Author Archive

The Ploughshares Round Down: How To Tell People What Your Book Is About

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Last week, I received a fiction pitch I knew I would reject a few lines in. It contained the phrase, “after he discovers a family secret long since buried.” (Or something like that.) I wrote back to the author and admitted that I was passing because, while other people

The Ploughshares Round-Down: How To Screw Up A Book Proposal

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When I first start working on a proposal or a manuscript with a writer, I tell them I have two stages of advice: breaking things and fixing things. At first, I’m going to keep asking hard questions and recommending big changes, until I think the writer has said what that writer wanted

The Ploughshares Round-Down: That Time A Famous Author Failed And Blamed Ebooks

Author: | Categories: Publishing 1 Comment
Last year, I was talking to a romance novelist who self-publishes her books. She had decided to go this route after submitting a manuscript directly to Harlequin and not hearing back from them for months. What forced her hand was that she had kids, she had been working part-time,

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Stop Stressing About the Bestseller List

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BookCon sold out all 10,000 tickets! That’s kind of amazing. It’s also an opening that probably means absolutely nothing to you. It should, even if you never plan to go. Every year, the book industry has an annual conference in New York City called BookExpo America (BEA). I haven’t

The Ploughshares Round-Down: How Publishing Looks From the Agent’s Side

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If I were forced to write a mission statement, it would be short and sweet: “Help authors. Have fun.” It’s easy for anyone in this business to lose sight of the fact that we do what we do because we love books, and that everyone else we meet is here

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Do White Male Editors Only Publish White Male Books?

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For most of the nonfiction books I sell, the editors I’m selling to have a lot of objective information on hand to guess at a title’s potential success: the author’s Twitter following, other books on the same subject, other books by the same author, the popularity of magazine articles

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Four Kinds of Editors (and Agents) You’ll Meet In Publishing Heaven

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A rule I learned as an editor: when you look at a book’s acknowledgments, the effusiveness of praise for an editor is inversely proportional to the effort he or she put into the book. If a writer goes on and on about her editor, that editor did almost nothing.

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why Learning To Write Plot Matters

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A few years ago, my cousin was just about to graduate from a small state school with an English degree. He told me he wanted to be a writer. I had never read any of his writing, so I was unbelievably discouraging. Try a job in the real world,

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Is It True You Can’t Make Any Money Writing Books?

Author: | Categories: Publishing 2 Comments
When I was making the switch last year from being an editor to being an agent, I heard from older agents that I was making a huge mistake. Advances are shrinking, they said. Midlist authors are going without contracts, and everybody is self-publishing. The whole industry is falling apart!

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why Your First Few Pages Mean Everything

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Because I love transparency and being generally helpful to writers, or because I am a masochist, I let writers query me by Twitter. It says in my bio that if you can squeeze your pitch into three tweets I’ll respond. I’ll admit I have a few stock responses, but