Tuesday, August 17, 2010

...and the survey says!: The Lodown on LoCash plus GIVEAWAY!



Hey Seekerville! Let's face it...polls are boring. LOL! So I'm gonna mix this one up a little.

I've been SWAMPED this summer. Lots of crazy family stuff going on. I've also been MIA doing tons of sound gigs with my audio-oriented hubby while I'm not under deadline. We've had a blast. He's the cute & funny rocker dude to my right in the pic above at a recent concert he did. That's what I love to do when I'm not writing. My girls have been twisting sound knobs since they were in diapers. Gigs are GREAT family time. We meet lots of interesting people and many become our lifelong friends.

The two sweet guys to my left are friends from an AWESOME up-and-coming band called LoCash Cowboys. They have a song called Here Comes Summer that I hope you will go to the country music sites and vote for. They are new on the music scene but have been trying to break in to the music industry for years, like many of us in the book industry. I predict VERY SOON they will be a household name. IF you ever get a chance to attend one of their concerts, GO! You will have THE time of your life. These guys are former professional choreographers-turned-country/rock artists. They are AMAZING in concert and WOW can they dance! You can Google "LoCash Cowboys Dance" and see just what I mean. Check out one of the videos I took at a recent concert and put on my Facebook author page here. Click the video link LoCash gig or like I said, Google 'em.

Ladies, have a heavy-duty fan ready because those guys can shake those booties and I'm not talking about knitted baby socks. LOL. Definite romance cover material right there. Yes, my husband knows I like to stand at the back of the stage just so I can see those cabooses wiggle. Trust me, if he were running sound for Dolly Parton he would certainly not be watching her eyes. LOL! We have a mutual understanding. This post won't shock him and in fact he teases me about drooling over the way these dudes dance. CHECK OUT THE VIDEOS ON YOU TUBE like this and this and this. Gospel song here and here is the best one. Love that last song. Love it. LOL. BUT wait until after this post to check all those out. LOLOLOL! Another beautiful ballad is You Got Me. You name it, they sing it.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I have learned over the last decade and a half of being on gigs with my husband while simultaneously pursuing writing that the two industries are VERY similar in many ways.

How Preston and Chris (LoCash vocalists and the crux of the band) came up with their name is they'd say, "Man, that's so low cash." Meaning something is so low cash, it's almost free. But hey, some of the best advice is free, right?

Anyway, "Low Cash" became a phrase between them and eventually stuck. The REALLY neat thing about these guys is that they have no set list when they play. They READ the audience each night and just have fun and gear their show to the audience at hand.

This reminds me SO much of the market research we do in our profession. Music and books are very similar industries. Musicians have a listening audience. Authors have readerships.

If you're not yet published, your readership is out there, trust me. You just have to find them or trust an editor or agent to help them find you.

How can you best do that? READ YOUR AUDIENCE? KNOW THEM? WRITE TO THEM? Trust that your future editor/s know their (soon to be your) audience. Read your readers as much as they read you. Know what it is that they love about you and your style of writing then never cease to deliver less than the best their money can buy.

This will hold true both before and after you're published.

Like Preston and Chris, each of you have an extreme amount of talent and I believe, like the LoCash guys, you have a special niche that you alone are meant to carve. NO ONE is doing musically what Chris and Preston are and that is why I fully believe they will be enormously successful. I believe they're right on the rim of it in fact.

This pertains to the pursuit of publication how? If you are reading this, you likely are meant to inspire and entertain people with your words. Or you are an avid reader drawn into the publishing process because of your love of books. You were drawn to this blog for a reason. You're going to be most happy when you're using the gifts you've been given. Whether that's writing books or reading books others have written and perhaps reading them to your grandchildren, children or to underprivileged kiddos at the library or a school, etc. I want you to be fulfilled in your endeavors, so I'm using this poll post to encourage those of you who are aspiring toward publication to do everything you can on your end to make success happen for you. To a great extent, success means getting your gift into the hands of the people who'll enjoy or otherwise benefit from it, right?

Your FIRST audience will be an acquisitions editor, agent or first reader hired by the publishing house.

For the past two years I've been conducting a series of publishing polls. ABA and CBA editors, agents and publishers have been SO gracious with answers. In the beginning of this poll, my goal was to provide helpful information to conference workshop participants actively pursuing publication. When industry professionals taking part in the polls expressed great interest in the results, I decided to expand my research another year. The outcomes have honestly astounded me in that on several questions, over half of those hundreds polled have given the same blind answers.

One example is when I asked them what their most common reason/s for rejection was.

OVER 70% GAVE THE SAME ANSWER for Number One. MOST of the other 30% gave similar answers that could actually be tied to that NUMBER ONE REASON FOR REJECTION.

None of those polled knew ahead of time what others answered. I'm sharing the results of that submission poll today in hopes that it will better your chances to have your submission make the best impression possible so that you can reach your readership. I sincerely want each of you to be successful and for your dreams to come true. You are going to be someones (or many someones') favorite author some day.

How does that sound?

Awesome beyond words, huh?

SO, how do you get there?

I know I'm stalling but I love the suspense. LOL! Want to know what THE most common reason for rejection was? I know because I've asked. :-)

Over 70 percent of the hundreds of ABA and CBA agents and editors polled cited this being their NUMBER ONE reason for an automatic rejection: "When it was clear the submitter either did not know or choose to follow submission guidelines."

I'm going to say that again in case you didn't catch it.

THE NUMBER ONE REASON FOR REJECTION IS WHEN THE AUTHOR DID NOT FOLLOW SOME ASPECT OF THE PUBLISHING HOUSE OR AGENCY'S SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.

OHMYGOSH! This is such an EASY fix! The very good news is that this mistake is 100% preventable.

What's the WORST thing you can do to detriment your dream right out of the gate?

Fail to know or follow submission guidelines.

If you think I'm trying to pound this into you...you're right! LOL. The poll speaks for itself. Don't jeopardize your chances by skimping on market research.

In the comment section, I'd LOVE to know how you research the market. If you can list a source that I haven't named above, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of seven LoCash Cowboys Here Comes Summer candles.

AND I will be giving away a copy of Sally Stuarts Market Guide OR a 2011 copy of Writers Market Guide to ONE lucky commenter. Winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition. SO stay tuned for that and be sure to view our contest rules and leave an e-mail address so I can reach you.

To be entered, list ways that you research the market, be that Web sites, books, industry blogs, etc. One example is Lyn Cote's blog. Did you know she does fabulous, comprehensive market research? I'm sure you know some sites or resources that others don't. Give us the URLs so it will truly be helpful information pooled in one place in case others aren't aware of how to research the market. It can be overwhelming to know where to begin.

One of my favorite ways is to attend conferences and sit in on agent/editor/publisher panels or ACFW publisher-hosted workshops. They will often talk extensively in those about what they're looking for and hand out copies of their most current submission guidelines.

If you are unable to make the conference, you can purchase the CDs online at ACFW.com Click the conference CD link.

To reiterate for those of you actively submitting: I encourage you...make SURE your ms follows submission guidelines. If you think it won't matter, my poll proves your thinking is in error. I didn't pull these answers out of my ear. These results came directly from THE industry professionals who have and will hold the death or life of your manuscript/s in their hands.

I'd hate for something so preventable to be the reason your work shows back up in your post office box or Inbox with a big fat devastating red R scratched across it.

Invest time and effort understanding the line and imprint you are targeting. That means reading books that publisher puts out. KNOW the guidelines and don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll overlook your ignorance or laziness. The poll results are proof they absolutely will not and there is almost ZERO tolerance for failure to follow submission guidelines. I urge you to obey them to a fine T! If you do not, prepare for rejection because not knowing or following submission guidelines is, according to those whose jobs are accepting or rejection submitted work, almost always a lethal mistake.

If you are going to entrust your ms to these people, know their house/agency and for goodness sakes, their submission guidelines. This is absolutely attainable. Absolutely crucial. Market research takes time but it will be time well-spent. It's professionalism and it WILL better your chances of breaking in, I promise.

Musicians, like authors, have to research the market. I'm sure at first music industry professionals didn't quite know where to 'shelve' Preston and Chris because they do a little bit of everything in their shows including old and new country, rock, pop, hip-hop, gospel and you name it. They've branded themselves country-rock but trust me, they stand out. There is NO ONE out there doing what they do on stage and there is NO ONE out there who writes like you. Finally, someone noticed the uniqueness that is LoCash. They are infectious!

And in an unforgettable moment, someone will notice you and your work too. They'll love the spark. The voice. The marvelous way you string words together. They'll cling to a flashlight and relish your story into the wee hours and put you on their auto-buy list then long like crazy for your next release. They'll bask in the images you paint with your words unlike anyone else in the world. Your readers are waiting.

I'd hate for you to spend years writing the book of your heart only to have it pushed back in your face at NASCAR speeds by an editor because you spent minuscule time getting to know the house you've attempted to entrust it to.

You don't have to be a statistic. Be the exception. Send in exceptional work that follows guidelines perfectly. It can be done. It should be done if you want to be taken seriously and looked at like the professional I know you all are.

You not only want to sell your manuscript, you want to sell yourself. Editors and agents NEED to know that you are someone they can work with and do so long term. Let the quality of your writing and manuscript make them sit up and take notice. Let your professionalism and Presentation make them sit up and reach for the phone to make that contract call.

So where do you get those elusive guidelines?

I'll give you a few hints: Publishers’ Web sites. Publishers’ forums. Message boards such as what Steeple Hill has. Authonomy. Sally Stuart’s Market Guide. Writers Market Guide. Romance Writers of America is a tremendous resource. Frequently check house and agency Web sites because things change constantly and editors move by the end of the year.

Just for giggles and grins, here are some other reasons for rejection cited in the poll:

Inappropriate content.
Writing not up to par.
Poor grammar or other mechanical flaws.
Stepping outside the word count parameters.
Submitting genre we don't publish.
Author needs to grow a bit in craft or mechanics.
Synopsis incomplete or failure to tell us the ending.
Query letter that tells me I will love the story
Cover letter proclaiming I should buy this.
An argumentative tone upon correction or rejection.
Project not right for us.
Genre not selling.
Novice mistakes. ***

That's FAR from a complete list, but I wanted to show you a few just to see if you notice anything?

MANY of those "other" reasons cited can fall under the category of "submission guidelines."


***Regarding novice mistakes, I asked responders what exactly that constituted. I will share those answers in another post because there were numerous craft-related mistakes mentioned in detail by those who were able to respond to this question. For now I'll list a few which are: Too much telling. Passive voice. Backstory dumps. Too much introspection. Pacing or tone not right for genre.

Those are only a few! :-)

Those mistakes often flag an unpublished writer as a beginner which equates in an editor's mind to an author who is too much of a financial risk because they're still too inexperienced/not quite ready to work with an editor. I had a couple rejections because I submitted too soon, so don't feel bad if you have. It takes guts to submit. But use your brain as well as your courage and study those guidelines. LOL!

In Story by Robert McKee, (recommended to me by my Steeple Hill editor) he mentions how new authors sometimes are resistant to rules because they think it messes with their creative freedom. But editors view it as rebellion against guidelines. McKee states, "Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form."

To many in the country music industry, Chris and Preston were written off as breaking the rules. I mean, what kind of country singer plays rock and dances hip-hop style in cowboy boots and a Stetson then belts out a sweet, beautiful love-song ballad in a Harley shirt and skull and crossbones doo rag at a camo concert piano with fingers nimble enough to tickle Carnegie Hall?

But no, they are who they are and they studied the market and used their gifts and who they are as artists and individuals to carve out a niche. I'm telling you, they will be wildly popular. If you haven't heard of them now, hold on because you will. And if you ever see them in concert, you will be hooked because NO ONE puts on the kind of show they do. They have the most outstanding, energetic stage presence of any band out there. I've seen thousands. My husband is in this industry and he has told them from the beginning they have what it takes. He is a professional, he knows.

I want you to stand out to readers and industry professionals the way LoCash is standing out to those who've caught LoCash Fever. Fans and industry professionals who see a raging hole of a market for what they do. They filled a niche and you can too.

Mastering market research and keeping up with industry changes will greatly benefit you and get your work into the hands of readers who will rave over your words.

Interestingly, on a different question on the agent/editor poll, I asked responders what their number one pet peeve was. OVER 90% of them said, “When people do not follow our submission guidelines.”

Since SO MANY of them responded to both questions with the above answer, or a variation of the above answer, that leads me to believe that they must get a LOT of submissions that breach their guidelines.

This floors me. With the competition as fierce as it is, WHY would anyone want to intentionally lessen their chances of survival? LOL.

So, if you are tempted to skimp on researching guidelines for the house or agency you are targeting, I hope the above poll will deter you from that. We spend enormous amounts of time researching our novels. But the acquisitions editor of the house of our heart or the agent we'd love to be repped by will never know that if you don't set a good first impression.

My advice?

Take careful time to research houses and agencies. Do your homework before shooting that story off the runway. Don't send out blind submissions, meaning cannon ball it or shot gun your work to every house without checking first to see what they're currently acquiring. Be sniperish about it. Study the market. Trends. Watch the house or houses you're targeting very carefully. Granted some people just send stuff out everywhere and hope to hit one but it's rare that they do. Market research can speed up the process for you. Who likes to wait longer than they have to? LOL.

Submission guidelines include things like knowing how they like the mss formatted (font and paper size, margins, etc.) Use industry standard when there's a question. If you don't know that that is, find out because it's one of the first things you need to know when you submit. Submission guidelines include word count parameters, genre listing and whether they accept agented submissions, e-mail submissions, hardcopies, etc. This is not a comprehensive list. But it gives you an idea if you're really new at this. If so, don't fret this. Just fling yourself into finishing that story. LOL. If you're close to submitting, pay attention though. LOL. All of these details might seem mundane, but you are better off to be a little obsessive about getting things right.

I think contests are a great way to practice submitting to houses. Some contests disqualify people for not following the guidelines. This upsets entrants but learning a hard lesson is better than learning an even harder lesson down the road. What I mean by that is that it's better to get a low score or a disqualification than a form rejection from your dream editor or agent.

Let's turn the comment section of this post into a market research venue. EVERY person who lists a source of market research not listed above will receive the chance to win one of 7 LoCASH Cowboys Here Comes Summer candles AND will be entered into the drawing for their choice between a 2011 edition of Sally Stuart's Writers' Market Guide if you're targeting CBA or The 2011 Writers' Market Guide if you're targeting ABA.

So, comment away~! And don't forget to go vote for our friends, the very talented LoCASH Cowboys. Help us help them get to the top of the country music charts with Here Comes Summer. You can do that here on the http://www.locashcowboys.com/ site. Click the CMT and GAC buttons and you'll see LoCash in the top 20!

LEAVE A COMMENT, letting me know how you keep up with industry changes. Be specific. Let this post be a tangible resource for those who are overwhelmed and don't know where to begin.

If you're a reader-only, leave a comment and I'll enter you into the candle drawing if you like. Just list the top three reasons you put an author on your auto-buy list. :-)

And for WHEN not IF that happens, I leave with you these LoCash Words in hopes you will take them to heart. This next video is the one most worth watching. Scroll down to the bottom right of their My Space page, to the video showing hands on a piano. Click that. The song Keep in Mind is near the middle of the moving video on this page. "I know those dreams you're tryin' to chase. You want 'em now but they won't wait. Last thing you're thinkin' about is slowing it down and the ones you left behind. I'm always thinking of you cause when somebody loves you that's what they do...all of the time, so keep in mind. Keep in mind...." "LoCash means remembering your roots. Remember where you came from. Stay true to who you are. Never forget the people who helped you. It's a way of life."--Preston Brust and Chris Lucas of LoCash Cowboys.

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post. Enjoy the rest of your summer! And PS...GO VOTE FOR MY FRIENDS' song on GAC and CMT!

Don't forget to leave your comments here for a chance to win a LoCash Candle or a Market Guide book.

MANY THANKS!

Cheryl Wyatt

54 comments :

  1. Interesting post. I am currently doing a course on complex documents and writing complex reports. part of it includes marketing polls etc. So was interested in this post. Also its good to see what the top response was. Also what you said about reading and adhering to guidelines etc applies to applying for jobs. I also noticed the comments about letters saying you must buy this etc. Although we are told to sell ourselves we dont want to come across as arragant or overconfident.
    Ok as a reader the top 3 reasons I put an author on a auto buy list.
    I love there style of writing and also the genre.
    They are writing a series and I want to keep reading the series.
    I cant think of a number 3 right now. Sometimes its the subject that puts an author on autobuy.

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  2. Awesome, Jenny! Thanks so much for your response. I am very interested in why readers put certain authors on auto-buy.

    Cool beans! Thanks for stopping in. Miss you!

    Hugs
    Cheryl

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  3. Okay, I'm rounding up breakfast...cowboy-style. We've got good old bacon Fresh off the Farm (LoCash joke). We've got cowboy boot-shaped cookies with icing in the shape of spurs.

    We've got fried potatoes, seered in a pit fire like they used to in the old west. And we have home-made beef jerky and deer sausage, dehydrated just for Seekerville.

    There are ham and cheese muffins shaped like Stetsons and fresh coffee, though not as good as Helens! So you might wanna wait to have a cup until she shows with the percolator.

    Homemade bisquits and gravy...and lasso yourselves up some New Mexico style eggs there with a little hot peppers in 'em if you need a kick this morning. YEEE HAW! Eat up pards!

    Cheryl

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  4. Cheryl you are on my auto buy cos you mentioned cricket in your first book!
    I think one other way is if I connect with the book. One reason Gilbert morris is at the top of my must have list is because he includes history in his books and he brings that time alive. I love historical books where you learn about history as well as get a good story.

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  5. Oops took me awhile to get back to Seekerville after checking out the links, Cheryl.
    Very enjoyable.

    The results of your survey are amazing. Who knew submission 'rules' were the only rules that can't be bent or broken. Thanks for all your research and for some 'cute guy' time this morning!

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  6. Wow, another workshop in a bottle.

    This is great stuff, Miz Cheryl.

    I already like LoCash because I am always low on cash.

    Thanks for sharing the poll results too.

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  7. Cheryl, looking GOOD.

    And oh my stars, Tina's right, this is a conference-in-a-bottle and the price is right, for sure.

    I ordered Panera for breakfast today and there's a great variety of low-carb, low-fat foods, including an egg dish that's to die for.

    And booties????

    Not the baby kind?

    Cheryl, you radical, you.

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  8. Ah, the not following guidelines is so true for so many things:job applications, school applications, essay contests, placing ads, etc etc. I have seen more people lose out for thinking they can get beyond the rules OR NOT thinking in the first place.

    I don't have any new suggestions for market research but I do read authors blogs for comments made about the books. I figure those who write the authors are the most enthusiastic. But I also watch what is being requested in our library system. It takes a lot of requests to get into the system so I trust that is where a lot of interest is.

    Autobuys! Good grief,it is more than three but here goes:

    Detailed writing style...if the author shows that much care in the details, it shows overall in the production of a quality story.

    Story line...if I know the author takes standard story lines and makes them fresh, if they focus on plot situations that no one else will touch.

    Three in a row...if I try an author's work three times and am pleased, on to the autobuy list they go. This is especially true of new authors.

    A note about continuities/series...I fell for your wings of refuge series so the series label on the cover and mentioned in the blurbs does make a difference. Continuities I will autobuy if I recognize some authors I normally autobuy.

    No need for candles...sniff, allergies. But congrats on your LoCash promo...I see youre doing a great job on the internet plugging them.

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  9. Wow Cheryl, Again great advice. You are so right on with the reasons for rejection.

    I find the editor spotlights at conferences are the best source of info. They TELL you what they are looking for and what they don't want. You're right about getting the CD's even if you've been to the conference. Because you forget. or didn't hear something and will the second time.

    And the LOCash boys. How fun is that? Lucky you to have such heroes to model your characters after.

    I always tell my hubby "I have to stare at those good looking men, sweetie. I'm doing research." LOL

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  10. Hey there, Cheryl, what a fun summer. Loved the post.

    How do I keep up with the market?

    Read.

    Talk to my Seeker buddies.

    Belong to ACFW.

    Follow the Links Tina sends.

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  11. WHOA, Cheryl, like Deb I got sidetracked watching the LoCash Boys -- or maybe "mesmerized" would be a better word!! Godspeed to those cuties!!

    And I can certainly vouch for the following statement of yours:

    If you are going to entrust your ms to these people, know their house/agency and for goodness sakes, their submission guidelines. This is absolutely attainable. Absolutely crucial.

    And not only know their written submission guidelines, but check with other authors and loops as to any guidelines that are "understood." My favorite story as to a failure on my part in this respect is when I pitched the Irish-Catholic O'Connors to a publisher who doesn't publish anything Catholic or with a specified religious affiliation. My pitch was all of seven seconds long, but my humiliation went on a LOT longer than that!! I actually wrote a blog about it called Buckle Up ... It's Going To Be a Bumpy Ride

    Thanks, Cheryl, for this really fun and important post!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  12. Great post, Cheryl! Can't wait to check out the cute guys in cowboy boots!

    Researching the market means keeping your eyes and ears open. Join various writers loops. When someone tells you they were at a conference and heard this, that and the other editor from major publishing houses say they are looking for historicals, that historicals are hot, then believe them! You can learn a lot from other writers who are going to conferences, reading industry blogs, etc. It's great to have friends! Share with each other. (That sounds like something a kindergarten teacher would say, but it's still good advice!) Tina gives lots of great links to industry websites, articles, and blogs in her weekend editions of Seekerville. Mostly, besides coming to Seekerville on a regular basis, I just read what other writers say, and go to the ACFW conference every year if I possibly can!

    Researching the market can be as simple as looking at the emails from online book stores like Amazon and cbd.com that list the current bestsellers.

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  13. Jenny, one of these years I'm totally coming to Australia to go to a Cricket match with you!

    I love Cricket! LOL. I wish it was more prevailant in the US.

    I still have the little Cricket duck too! It will be forever cherished. It sits above my computer watching as I type. :-)

    Cheryl

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  14. Debra, glad to oblige you. LOL!

    Thanks for stopping in.

    Cheryl

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  15. Tina, thanks! And I'm glad to see that someone mentioned your Weekend Editions here on Seekerville as a great source of market research. YEAH! I was hoping someone would because you rock with that! We appreciate all the time you put into it for us and Friends of Seekerville.

    Cheryl

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  16. Ruthy, thanks! Yeah...booties. What fun!

    Thanks for breakfast...again! LOL. LOVE Paneras!!!!

    C

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  17. Julie, thanks for those great answers! I'm totally taking notes. LOL! Thanks for your insight and for your kind words about Wings too. What a blessing it is to get to write for Steeple Hill. Glad you stopped by.

    Cheryl

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  18. SANDRA! I LOLd at this: "I always tell my hubby "I have to stare at those good looking men, sweetie. I'm doing research."

    TOO FUNNY! I'm still giggling. And I'm TOTALLY gonna steal, errr, borrow that line for my next visual hero "research." LOLOL!

    Man, do we have the BEST jobs in the world or what? LOL.

    Thanks for commenting. Love it.

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  19. Mary, SOOOO true. Thanks for stopping by! This summer has been bittersweet. I'm glad for hubby and the sound gigs to offset the tough stuff going on.

    Another Hoo-Ra for Tina's market research!

    Cheryl

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  20. Julie L, yeah! Distraction can be a wonderful thing. LOL!

    And THANK YOU for adding that GREAT advice. It's hard to find out stuff the hard way and like you, I have. LOL!

    But hey, now we can share our insider knowlege with others, huh? LOL!

    My mother in law LOVES your books. She took them to Yellowstone with her and has been raving about you ever since. She nearly hyperventillated when I told her you are a good friend of mine. LOL!

    Keep up the great writing! One publisher's loss was another gain where you're mistake is concerned. LOL!

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  21. Melanie, excellent points! Thanks for taking part and sharing. DO check out those cowboys. LOL!

    Thanks for stopping by.

    C

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  22. Wow Cheryl, alter-ego!
    How much fun is this?

    Yes, conference in a bottle, or blog, or something.

    Great info. Thanks for doing that research. Wow.

    Loved Your line: "You don't have to be a statistic. Be the exception."

    Though this is a creative business, the adjective there is creative. The noun is business. Just as in any endeavor, there are reasons for things to be as they are. "Tried and true?!"

    Though I thought I was ready last year about this time, I NOW see, I was not at all. With this in mind, I'm preparing to submit TODAY to 3 editors from BIG houses.

    I've poured over their guidelines - from where? A one page sheet that came with stickers. We received them at an SCBWI Conference. These stickers are GOLD.

    Why?

    Because all these houses are closed and yet, these editors opened up for submissions from anyone who attended. But we must submit one ms. and include the sticker on the envelope.

    On the one page listing, they tell us EXACTLY what they want.

    For example, I wasn't completely certain what was meant by cover letter. Nosed around everywhere I could think of (including here - there's no listing for cover letter?! Shocking!!!) and several agency blogs... But in the wee hours, ran across a link to the SCBWI book we received as new members. So I found my copy, turned to page 12 and voila. Guidelines including: "The cover letter should never attempt to explain the story; your story must speak for itself."

    So - mine is going to be short/sweet with a sentence or two concerning something each of these editors mentioned during their lectures - which were outstanding. It was one of the editors who said, "Please include some sort of reference to the conference in your cover letter, whether it is a conversation with Ms. ___ or something that you took away from the weekend. She likes to have that context."

    I'm so so so glad someone suggested I start attending conferences.

    Oh - I read somewhere that JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame submitted to one person, and one person only. But she REALLY did her research and targeted THE one she thought would be the best. Turns out, she was right. Ya think?

    I'm not a candle person either (allergies as well) but would be blessed to win one of the resources. Thanks Cheryl!

    may at maythek9spy dot com

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  23. Wonderful and thorough advice, Cheryl! Thanks for doing the research on the top reasons for rejection--that is a gold mine!

    Especially for unpublished writers, I can't recommend conferences strongly enough. There's no better way to get inside info on the industry--what editors and agents are looking for, craft instruction, critiques, etc.

    Welcoming a little rain this morning and a respite from triple-digit temps!!!

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  24. and YES to Tina for her research. I do often check that out.

    and YES - speaking of WE's - these gals do a great job of it.

    http://the-writing-bug.blogspot.com/2010/08/this-week-in-writing-worldaugust-13.html

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  25. What a fantastic post, Cheryl! You've done the work by polling the professionals. Bless you for sharing the results! I'm sure all the unpubbed writers reading this will take your advice to heart. Pubbed or unpubbed, we must know and embrace publisher guidelines.

    I'm going to check out LoCash. And vote!

    Btw, you and your hubby look fantastic!

    Janet

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  26. Aw, Cheryl, that is SO cool about your mother-in-law -- thanks for telling me, my friend!! ALWAYS good to hear!! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  27. Cheryl, I was blown away by your answer of the top reason for rejection! I had NOT expected that.

    Very interesting! I can't wait to hear more of the survey. Thanks for sharing!!

    Thanks also for sharing the video links. I've been hearing a lot about these guys lately. :)

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  28. KC, GREAT thoughts! AWESOME on your submissions! We wish you the best. Keep us posted, okay? This is so exciting!

    SCBWI sounds like a fabulous conference. If you come back on here and read this, can you provide a link for us? Thanks for all the great info.

    I love that the industry professionals who attend conferences leave themselves accessible to those in attendance. It really does make a difference on both ends.

    It's good to know that nearly all of them attend conferences for the sole purpose of meeting potential authors.

    Great stuff! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing and for your kind words.

    C

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  29. KC, I forgot to say that that is interesting about JK Rowling. I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing!

    Cheryl

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  30. KC, see you should TOTALLY do a teaching blog post on how to write a cover letter. Especially since there doesn't seem to be other resources out there for how to do that and what to include. I totally think people would flock to it.

    Something to think about! ;-)

    Maybe you could research cover and query letters and guestblog it here for us. Let me know what you think...

    Cheryl

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  31. Myra, it's been smokin' hot here too. Last week it was over a hundred. Those LoCash guys danced and sang in it for over two hours! The humidity was a monster too.

    There have been heat advisories out. It's supposed to cool off this week to the high nineties. LOL!

    Thanks for coming by and commenting. I SO agree about the value of conferences.

    C

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  32. Another shout out for Tina's WEs!!!

    WOOT! Go Seekerville!!!!

    Thanks KC for providing that other blog link. Very cool!

    Cheryl

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  33. Janet, thank you for the sweet words! AND my mother in law mentioned your books too! She just LOVES the ones she read.

    She said you and Julie are on her auto--buy list.

    I will have to let her read Cara's because I know she'll be just as hooked. But I have to finish it first. LOL! NO ONE can have it until I'm done. LOL.

    I'm SO behind on reiews. Did I mention that I've been BUSY this summer? LOL.

    Cheryl

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  34. Janet, I forgot to say THANK YOU for voting for the guys! They will SOOOO appreciate it. They are very gracious to fans and thankful for the support. They don't forget.

    Hugs!

    C

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  35. Missy, the poll results surprised me too on many counts. I didn't expect that. I guess because it surprises me that so many people would risk it. LOL!

    I'm glad to share. To help people was my reason for doing it.

    When I've shared portions of the survey to industry professionals, they have even been surprised at how similarly they work across the board without having known it. LOL!

    Thanks for coming by!

    Cheryl

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  36. As a reader, I am drawn to authors for various reasons. 1) I like their style of writing. I like crisp, clean writing that with plausible people and events (even in sci-fi and fantasy). 2) I like to feel like I know the characters and their settings before the end of the story. Do I feel like I have been somewhere and visited with these people. 3) I like to feel connected to the author as well as the story.
    Shirley
    beekeeper5[at]bellsouth[dot]net

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  37. A great market research tool for CBA is cbd.com/fiction. On the left, you can search fiction books by publisher. Publisher! How cool is that? So you can see exactly what that publisher is putting out right now and in the coming months.

    sallybradleywritesatgmail.com

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  38. Hey Cheryl

    Here ya go - www.scbwi.org
    Society of Childrens Book Writers & Illustrators

    I've been to two of their conferences now, and heading to the 3rd at the end of September - in NASHVILLE! :)

    Parts are open for business, so please come!

    Are you CRAZY?

    uh. *gulp* ME? Guest blog? Cover letters? Well... uh... sure, I think. Could May help? Strength in numbers you know...

    (Y'all are already booked for awhile, right?)

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  39. Hello Cheryl, Your writing on this blog is a true treasure chest of information and I appreciate your every word. I am starting a new creative endeavor in my life by writing. I haven't really started a book in particular yet, because I feel I need a good educational foundation on writing and authors to begin. I have a creative nature that excels in music, crafting, needlework, graphics, art, etc...and have had a "yen" to write for a very long time. I've lived a very dramatic/traumatic life and many unique and unusual life experience stories to write and most importantly I desire for the Lord to be involved and write whatever I do within his will. I have many questions, and go to every authors blog that I can find and keep finding authors, information, publishers, marketing strategies and keep making author friends on Facebook, Twitter and thru personal contact. I listen, read, watch and take in all the information I can get in the various directions of the writing profession. I have joined ACFW, and other book clubs and organizations, including the local chapter of writers that meet once a month. I haven't attended my first meeting yet, but I have been in contact with several authors who are connected and spoken by phone to Lena Nelson Dooley of the DFW Ready Writers, as well as other area authors. I live in Texas, and there is an abundance of talented writers also living in Texas. I have a slight mobility problem due to an illness that almost took my life 10 years ago. My husband and I are retired from the work professions in which we were involved; and I spend a great deal of time in front of my pc as well as read, read, read. I have been blessed many times so far in book giveaways and will continue to comment and hopefully win different genres to study. I have a need for the book on marketing and the lit candle to read it by! A CD with the music of the LoCash guys playing in the background would set a good scene for learning! Thank you for the opportunity to possibly win your giveaways. I'm now going to save your posting and put it in my wish treasury box and it will draw interest every time I take it out to peruse!

    Sharing Christ's Love,
    Barb Shelton
    barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

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  40. Oh - another resource popped into the inbox...

    I usually glean 1 or 2 things each time.

    http://links.mkt230.com/servlet/MailView?ms=NDUzOTY3OQS2&r=NDU4OTE0NDMyMQS2&j=MTYyMDUyODExS0&mt=1&rt=0

    We just came in from mowing. About 3/4 way thru it began to sprinkle, then it got right with it. We're drenched but it's done. We have on eau du newmownlawn.

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  41. Shirley, thank you for that reader insight! I'm a reader too but since becoming an author, I tend to study books rather than become immersed in them. So your comments helped! Thanks,

    Cheryl

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  42. Sally, that's an excellent resource. THANK YOU! Glad you could stop by.
    Cheryl

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  43. KC thanks for that link.

    Yeah, I'm serious. If I don't e-mail you after October, remind me, okay? If you're up for it, I'd love for you to do a query/cover letter post.

    I know you'll do a great job! If you meet any industry professionals in the meantime, you can ask them what they like to see in a cover/query letter.

    Thanks for spending time with us today!

    Cheryl

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  44. Barb, it is so nice to meet you here. It sounds like you are well on your way to some fabulous learning and gleaning. Keep up the excellent work!~

    Come back here and visit us often. You will learn a TON from these amazing ladies.

    Thanks for coming by!
    Cheryl

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  45. KC, thanks for another resource link!

    And LOL about the mewnlawn...took me a minute to get that. LOL.

    Have a great night all! I'm hitting the sack early.

    Cheryl

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  46. Hey Cheryl! It's so cool that your girls get the artistic vibe from both sides, huh? I'll bet they have a blast playing with sound systems and words. Can't beat that life. (Can you tell I love writing and music?)

    I had heard that not submitting properly formatted manuscripts would result in an automatic rejection. BUT, I didn't realize so many people submitted improperly formatted materials. It sounds a little crazy because I would think when something that important is on the line, the writer would do everything they can to ensure a complete read through by the editor. That 70% really blows my mind.

    The one way I research what's selling is by visiting agent and publishing websites, reading the blurbs for their recent releases or sells. Then I'll know if my story will fit in, or if it's a storyline that has been overdone.

    Well, second week back at work is kicking my tushie almost as much as the first week, so I'll tell y'all goodnight. It was fun visiting even though it's bedtime!

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  47. Hi Dianna!

    Hope your week slows down. LOL! Thanks for coming by yesterday.

    Cheryl

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  48. Okay, I have a funny story to tell y'all. My creative nonfiction "redemptive memoir" introduces readers to Lectio Divina, an ancient Benedictine meditation form that has revolutionized my devotional life.

    Of course, I describe this in the proposal, and the other day I received a note from an editor to whom I'd submitted. It said that since their house WARNS people of the dangers of the contemplative life, they didn't think they could publish my manuscript....smile.

    Obviously, I did not do my homework well enough, shoulda coulda check them out more thoroughly.
    All I had was a 2009 Christian Writers' Market Guide...I was too cheap to buy a 2010 one.

    But at least my boo-boo makes a funny story.

    Thanks for your suspenseFULL writing today, Jenny.

    Gail Kittleson gkittleson@omnitelcom.com

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  49. Jenny, that's awful and hilarious at the same time. Bummer!

    I'm guessing you research guidelines now before you submit, eh? LOL.

    Thanks for coming by. If you haven't checked out Deb's gadget post today, I hope you will.

    Lots of interesting stuff on there.
    Cheryl

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  50. Hi Cheryl,
    Thanks for the mention of my research. However, it is on my main website http://www.LynCote.net Just click the Christian Book Publishers Page.
    I update every spring and have done so for 12 years now!
    I don't want anybody to be as clueless as I once was.
    I've just added another ebook publisher too! I update through the year as stuff pops up. That's why it's a good idea to join my egroup so a writer doesn't miss one of these!
    Thanks again and ladies, I met her dh and he's a cutey!

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  51. Lyn, thank you for letting me know! Good to see you.

    PS...have you played trombone with any straws lately? LOLOL!

    Or received a call from someone two seats away? LOLOL. I don't remember when I've laughed SO hard. HE HE!

    Cheryl

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  52. I am blown away by your site. Awesome. And that is a word I have not used in ten years. I love it and consider it a God send. Many thanks! Hugs.

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