Querying Without a Manuscript

Two weeks ago, I told you about the day I got “the call” from my agent. I had a book deal. And, I had two months (and a few days) to actually write the book. Now, the big question I’ve been getting lately is this: Why didn’t you have the book done before you queried and agent, much less sent it on to a publisher? Here’s why: Non-fiction is different from fiction. From what I hear (and all you fiction folks correct me if I’m wrong), if you’re writing a novel, you’d better have the whole thing in tip-top shape before even thinking of querying. But non-fiction is different. Oftentimes editors want to shape the direction of the book, add components and leave other components out. So, with that in mind, my agent told me NOT to finish the book when I was waiting for “the call”. She advised me to wait until a publisher had seen it and advised me on the direction they wanted it to head. This makes for a frantic few months trying to finish a book before a deadline, but it helps you avoid a ton of crazy rewrites. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t have it done before I got the deal. My editor at Guideposts is awesome awesome awesome and really listened to me and allowed me to have a lot of input in the direction of my book, but she did have some very specific requests. She had me move a few chapters in the outline. She wanted me to beef up the content in a few places. She had...

What’s for Dinner, uh, Thursday: Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

So, I didn’t post “What’s for Dinner Wednesday” yesterday becuase, well, because I slacked off and took my kids out for burgers on Tuesday night because I didn’t feel like cooking. So, we’re going to go ahead and have “What’s for Dinner Thursday” this week. I got this recipe from my friend Michelle and it’s AWESOME. Mediterranean Turkey Burgers 1 egg white 1 lb. ground turkey 1 onion, chopped (I used red) 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts 1/2 tsp. paprika 1/4 tsp. allspice 2 tsp. olive oil 1/2 tsp. cumin 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more if you want!) Blend all ingredients in a bowl. Form into patties and grill (Michelle does it in a pan with cooking spray, I did it on the grill). Serve on wheat buns with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and I added tzatziki sauce (recipe below). Delicious! Thanks Michelle! Tzatziki 1 cup plain greek yogurt 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated 1 clove garlic, finely minced salt and pepper Mix all ingredients, let sit in fridge at least 2...

Marketing a Book.

On Mondays, I ususally write a post about the book writing process— but I’m going to skip that this week for a little side conversation about marketing. On Saturday, I went to a “Book Marketing Bootcamp” in San Jose taught by Kathi Lipp and hosted by Class Seminars. The class was only one day– but the day was jam-packed with marketing ideas and thoughts and well, let’s just say that I’m suddenly supermotivated to become a book marketing machine. Anyway, since I’ve been living and breathing marketing today, I thought I’d give you the highlights and see if you had any other wisdom to share. Here are the highlights: * In order to successfully market your book (and therefore yourself), you have to come up with a very specific, very reader-focused value statement. Tell the reader what they are going to gain by reading your book. This value statement should transfer to everything you do… from your blog, to your book, to your speaking endeavors. Yikes. * Your branding needs to be cohesive. You can’t have an upbeat, lively book with a tranquil ocean scene on the cover. And, with that in mind, you can’t have an upbeat, lively blog or website with a tranquil ocean scene either. * When marketing your book, your job isn’t to convince people to buy your book, but to convince people that your book is going to help THEM. Nobody likes spam. So telling someone to do something or buy something does no good. Instead, you need to build relationships with people so that your work can meaningfully contribute to their life. *...

The Art of Traveling Alone

Yesterday, I flew to San Jose for a book marketing boot camp taught by Kathi Lipp. I haven’t gone to any actual sessions yet– it starts in a couple hours– but already, the trip has been a raging success: – I wrote for three hours straight on the plane. Turns out that loooong plane trips aren’t half bad when you don’t have a two-year-old lay child squirming on your lap and a four-year-old asking every.two.minutes if he can go fly the plane. Who knew? – I had lunch with my friend Anne who is engrossed in a book of her own– a biography of MFK Fisher. It was great to catch up, but also to “talk shop” about the struggles of writing and managing life. – I “met” one of my best friends in the world, Deva. Get this: Deva and I have worked together (remotely) at Nick for almost 4 years now. Over that time, we’ve become great friends–she’s literally one of the few people in the world I know I can call anytime, anywhere for anything. Yet, until yesterday, we had never met face-to-face. Crazy, right? I went over to her house, met her absolutely adorable kids, we went shopping, we had coffee and went to dinner. Deva is even more fabulous in person. It was funny because Deva told me that when I talked, she had a hard time looking at me because she had become so used to the voice that it was hard to see a face attached to it. It was a bit surreal– there was a point in a store where I...

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Red Beans & Rice

I confess: Red Beans and Rice is NOT what I planned on making for dinner last night. My goal was to write about my best and favorite recipes, not my old standbys that I make when I have nothing else in the fridge. BUT, the day got away from me and I never made it to the grocery store… so, I made Red Beans and Rice. And you know what, it was delicious. Here’s my recipe: 2 cups water 1 cup write or brown rice (uncooked) 1 onion, chopped 1 package light turkey sausage, chopped 1 green or red pepper, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 2 whole tomatoes, chopped 1 stalk fresh oregano, chopped. 2 cans small red beans 1. Bring water to a boil. Add rice and simmer on low for 20 minutes until rice is tender. 2. While rice is cooking, add onion, sausage, pepper, garlic and tomatoes to a large skillet. Saute until tender. 3. Sprinkle with fresh oregano. 4. Add beans and sausage mixture to rice. Cook 2 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. 5. Serve with warm tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese and pico de...
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