The Unofficial Start to Summer Goals

Whether you are ready for it or not, summer is here! That means sunshine, ice cream, and vacation. It also means there’s a new season ahead of you. What are you going to do with this time?


For some authors, summer is a bonus season. With kiddos home from school, and vacation vibes all around, anything they can get done during this time is a bonus. That’s why goals beat intentionality when it comes to taking advantage of this or any season of life. 


There is a belief out there that if you want something badly enough, you will make it happen. You will overcome the obstacles in your way and triumph. Passion makes for great Nike ads and the best kinds of movies. We love a character that digs deep and wants it badly enough. “Alexa, play Eye of the Tiger.” But where does that leave the rest of us when our gas tank is empty? 


Passion can be a lousy friend if you’re waiting on it to help you achieve your writing goals. 


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Why Your Word Count Matters

Your word count matters.

Should you be concerned with your book’s word count? Absolutely. Knowing and understanding why word count matters is an important indicator for your project. Let’s make sense of these numbers.

One of the scariest requests a writer can get is to add words to a manuscript she thinks is complete. Suddenly, what you thought was done or close to it, needs an extra chapter or (and this happens) an extra 5,000 or 10,000 words. That’s a lot of words to add to something you thought was done. But why does word count matter? Wouldn’t coming in with a low word count just mean the book will be shorter?

It’s not quite that simple.

There are two reasons why word count is important.

The first reason is word count helps a reader determine if your book is a fit for him. Every reader has an expectation for how long a book will be based on the genre they are wanting to read. For example, if you write a novel and it is long, like Russian...

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PUBLISHING MARKET UPDATE, VOL. 3, ISSUE 5

Wanna make it big on TikTok?!  Yes, if you’re an author you do—particularly a fiction author.

What is #BookTok?! 

#BookTok is a linkable “hashtag” inside of the TikTok app, and somehow it is driving book sales in a big way.  TikTok is probably not the social media platform that you would assume would be frequented by voracious readers. But apparently, they are on there. Reader-fans are going on TikTok, sharing about their new favorite book(s), and tagging them with “#BookTok.”  And the click-throughs go wild.

The smart people at NPD BookScan did some digging into this latest book marketing phenomenon. They tracked a group of 90 fiction authors who were featured on #BookTok.  Comparing those authors’ sales in 2020 (before #BookTok started) to 2021, they found that those #BookTok authors saw sales growth of 73% for the titles being tracked.  Those authors alone saw sales go from 9 million copies to 20...

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Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 4

 Barnes & Noble Reports Solid Growth 

B&N CEO James Daunt reported in an interview with Publishers Weekly that despite a slow December due to the omicron COVID variant, B&N stores were trending 5%-6% above pre-pandemic 2019 numbers.  Daunt cited two factors that drove increases in overall book sales: backlist sales and BookTok.  BookTok seems to have ignited the interest of young people in books, with teenagers and young adults responding to the recent hashtag-related social media marketing trend.

Daunt also credited the hasty store remodeling that occurred during the pandemic as a source of increased foot traffic and corresponding product sales.  While that effort was done mostly with existing furniture and fixtures, B&N is now taking about 30-40 stores through a more comprehensive remodel, with the plan to update all locations as soon as feasible.

Amazon Shutters

Well, its bookstores, anyway.  Amazon has announced the closing of all...

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What Value Are You Bringing?

Every successful author adds value. They build a bridge to their audience with that value. It’s why we subscribe, follow, and listen to them. Whether it’s purely for entertainment or wisdom or insight, value is what every author has to bring if they want to succeed

That’s why it’s important to stop what you are doing today and ask yourself, “What value am I bringing to my audience?”

This question plays a huge part in determining the felt need for the books you write. The things you feed your audience should be tiny morsels for the main course - your book. Value is what keeps them coming back for more. 

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“The smart author knows that everything begins with delivering value consistently.” 

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Check out this quote from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: “Good marketing can sell once, but only a good product can sell twice. In the long run, your performance reverts...

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The Secret to Becoming a Better Writer

Everyone wants to be a better writer. Even if you’ve crossed that finish line and become a bestselling author, there’s still room for growth. 

As agents, we want writers that care about craft. Your writing matters - the voice, the style…even the punctuation. And while we might not grade you too harshly on that last one, you must show us you care about craft too. 

That’s why we want to share with you the secret to becoming a better writer. 

It’s not a magic trick or a style guide, though the last one will help you. 

It’s not a course or a lecture or a YouTube video. 

It’s like most secrets: It’s very simple. 

The secret to becoming a better writer is to become a reader. 

That’s it. 

Great writers read. They read widely, across genres. We wouldn’t say it’s impossible to be a writer without being a reader, but it sure does make it a lot harder. 

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How to Query an Agent

Ah yes, the query letter. Feared and dreaded by every writer, it’s the magical key to unlocking the door that leads you to a literary agent. There’s a lot of information available on how to query a literary agent, and most of it is useful. Today, we’re going to look at a few pro tips for how to query an agent and unlock that door. 

First, only submit a query letter to an agent you’ve done some research on. Know their name and use it in your letter. Mention a previous book that the agent worked on that you enjoyed, too. Here’s an example: “I enjoyed Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love. I saw your name in the acknowledgments section at the back of the book.” Mentioning past projects is a small thing that goes a long way with agents, and it lets us know you’ve done your homework. 

A query letter should do two things really well: be brief and specific. It needs to be no more than a page long. You’ve only got a...

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How NOT to Connect to an Agent

Literary agents want to discover you. It’s true. You may not believe it, you may be jaded from the umpteenth unanswered query, but we really ARE looking for you.  

As we’ve said before, your success is our success. That's why we want to tell you how NOT to connect with an agent. 

If you don’t want to connect with an agent, send us a query to read your manuscript that’s outside of the genre we work in. That means you haven’t researched what we, as literary agents, are looking for. It’s okay to do a little stalking or research, whichever word you prefer. Every agent has a specific taste for a genre of books.  Sending a literary agent something they aren’t looking for is a great way NOT to connect. 

Here’s another way to NOT connect with a literary agent: Send us an “I’d love to pick your brain” email. Literary agents are busy. We’ve got a full inbox of requests. When it...

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Publishing Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 3

David beat Goliath! 

At least in the 4th quarter of 2021. While Amazon’s online sales fell 1% in Q4 of 2021, brick-and-mortar bookstores saw an increase of over 43%. Bookstores finished the year up 28% over 2020—a year when all of the retail sector was up only 19.3%. Though that jump still left bookstores short of pre-pandemic 2019 by 1%.

2021 Corporate Reports 

The 2021 year-end results are rolling in from the Big 5 (or 4, or 3, or whatever it is this week).  

Simon & Schuster continues to increase its resale value – even though they are technically in escrow to Penguin Random House (pending a legal contest from the DoJ). S&S ended 2021 up 10% in sales and a whopping 52% increase in operating income.  

Hachette's parent company, Lagardere, reported a 9.4% revenue increase, with earnings up a phenomenal 42.7%.  Hachette’s US division was up 3.7% for the year. The company is, however, forecasting a flat 2022, as it...

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Do You Want to Grab a Coffee?

Have you ever wanted to have coffee with a literary agent? If you could just get some time around the table with one, you could get all your questions answered, right? 

As literary agents, we get this request a lot. Our hope is to provide you with answers so that you avoid those pitfalls and blind spots that so many amateur writers make. It’s amazing what a short conversation can do. 

And as much as we love coffee and talking about books and publishing, there isn’t enough time in the day to handle all these requests. 

That’s why we want you to join us for our FREE author training: Thursday, Feb 24, at 1 pm PT/3 pm CT"The Secret Path to Getting Published."

This training is for:

  • Authors who dream of being traditionally published
  • Authors who want a substantial publishing deal
  • Authors who are seeking representation from a literary agent
  • Authors who keep getting rejected and don’t know what they are doing wrong
  • Authors...
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