Thursday, May 28, 2009

Interview with NYT Bestselling Author and Publisher Deborah Smith

I'd hoped to include Deborah's interview during the Virtual Writers' Conference last week. Since I just got the interview today, however, I wanted to go ahead and post it. I think it will be a welcome addition to the conference articles, and I hope you enjoy it.

Gayle Trent: How did you make the transition--or, I should say, addition--from NYT bestselling author to publisher?

Deborah Smith: About ten years ago I sat with a group of old friends, all veteran authors with long track records at the big New York houses, and we bemoaned the lack of places to publish some folksy Southern short stories we wanted to write. It was like in the old movies where Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney get a great idea for a Broadway show but they've got no theater so they get all their pals together and put on a show in a barn (complete with amazing music, costumes and sets).

We decided that maybe we could put on a show in a barn.

So five of us pooled our pocket change, wrote a collection of stories, titled it Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes, printed a few thousand copies, and started learning how to be publishers instead of merely authors. To our amazement, "STAJS," as we abbreviate it, made money, sold out its first printing, and was picked up by a big New York publisher for reprint.

Stunned with glory, we formed BelleBooks. Now, ten years later, we've slowly but surely published more than two dozen books in a variety of styles (including two illustrated hardcover children's books) and are now entering a big new phase with a new imprint, Bell Bridge Books. Starting in 2008 we added a lot of new titles, and this year we'll publish nearly a dozen books. So our list is taking a giant leap forward.

I left my last New York publisher about four years ago and began publishing my women's fiction novels through BelleBooks instead. While I miss the bigger paycheck and the vast distribution of a major publisher, I love having control over all aspects of the process, including cover art and marketing. Now, if there are mistakes, I know where to point the finger of blame. Right at the mirror.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Alien Conspiracy" by Selden Smith

"Alien Conspiracy" is an excerpt from the memoir, My 91 Year Old Pregnant Mother hilarious and tender musings from a daughter's years caring for her elderly parents with Alzheimer’s by Selden Smith

Now the heart has taken on the vestige of caring for its parents. The beating heart in my dad belongs to my mom; the beating heart in my mom belongs to my dad. My heart so unavailable has surprisingly found a home with my parents. Does this mean I’ll never date again and will end up the spinster sister? But wait, I just realized that I am already the spinster sister. I am too old to be anything else. My heart has taken on my parents’ frailties, their hopes and dreams lost amid the ruins of a long life in the midst of a home forged by obsessive collecting and storing in any drawer, closet or pocket anything that may have a use in the next one hundred years.

I carry their baggage to give them room to be old and uncluttered. It doesn’t work mind you, the WW II generation will carry every bit of baggage they have until they drop. Not a scrap is wasted. Every piece of paper, a napkin that becomes so thin you can see through it and every leftover is used until it sits on the plate quivering, begging to be thrown into the garbage because it is old and wants to be put to death. Toilet paper is used so sparingly by my parents you’d think it was gold from Fort Knox. The amount my mother allows herself in a day is simply embarrassing. She always complained that my sister and I would have to marry rich to keep ourselves in toilet paper.

My parents collect everything. Especially my father, his room is filled with thousands of books and at least two hundred of them are Bibles. There is only a small pathway through his room in which the ceiling is held up by bookcases. Actually, I’m almost sure there are no actual walls, just fortresses of bookcases, papers, pens, pencils, paperclips, dirty socks, which could be worn again, book bags and candy wrappers. It is a danger zone perpetuated by the grabbing handles of trillions of plastic bags, not to mention the half full Styrofoam cups.

When they travelled, my father always had to carry several bags full of books and a Styrofoam cup full of coffee, which he usually spilled down the front of his white pants and shirt. This used to send my mother’s blood pressure off the chart as she tried to control the mess that followed my normally impeccably dressed father everywhere until Alzheimer’s took over his gray matter. He also had macular degeneration and couldn’t see the mess on his clothing without the stream of different magnifying glasses that he pulled from his many bags. One had a light, one had a special magnifying circle and one the handle kept falling off of, until my mother duct taped it back together again.

You can never throw anything away, as soon as you do you will need it. The reality is, as much as I hate to say it, it’s true. There I said it, go ahead, and call me an old lady spinster winch.

But I do have a theory of the scientific sort about the elderly. Aliens are using our elderly to create a takeover of the world or at the very least the United States. The hoarding of brown bags, plastic bags, soiled napkins, over eight million Styrofoam cups, which are deceiving as they hide inside of one another procreating and filling the trunks of cars and every crevasse that has an open space. Any void that is susceptible to being filled with a wadded up plastic bag and Styrofoam is actually a conspiracy by aliens who are using the old ones to take over this planet.

One day, I opened the trunk of the silver Buick Le Sabre and plastic bags with minds of their own exploded out into the wind travelling on torn handles for legs. Then I knew for sure, a gong will sound throughout the landfills, the salt mines and the trunks of Le Sabres’ everywhere. Elderly driver’s trunks will pop open and the plastic bags will spring to life, Styrofoam cups will sing as they whistle through the wind and the planet will be over thrown by plastic bags and Styrofoam who are collectively awakened as the enslaved Le Sabres of the world unite amid the den of honking horns and watch helplessly as plastic and Styrofoam take control of the world.


Besides being the author of My 91 Year Old Pregnant Mother hilarious and tender musings from a daughter's years caring for her elderly parents with Alzheimer’s, Selden Smith is an actress, artist, filmmaker and breast-cancer survivor.

An Agent's Time by Jessica Faust*

Why are there never enough hours in the day? I know everyone feels this way and I’m certainly no different, however as I watch the submission piles grow and the equeries come in I sometimes wonder what I do all day. How come I can’t get any of it done? So out of curiosity I tracked myself. How long do things actually take around here. Keep in mind this is not necessarily one day’s list, but an idea of how long different projects might take me.

Reading and responding to 25 equeries: 1 1/2 hours on a Sunday morning

Reading and editing the first 100 pages of a client’s next project, including sending it back with a letter: 3 hours

Reading and editing a client’s proposal (synopsis for three books only): 1 hour

Attending the BookEnds weekly meeting: 45 minutes

Reading daily publishing news that comes to me through email: 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how many links I click through)

Breakfast with a client: 4 hours (including travel time)

Introductory phone call with an editor newly assigned to my client: 15 minutes

Receiving a phone call from an editor with an offer: 10 minutes

Calling and telling a client that she’s just made her first deal: 15 very excited minutes

Read Publishers Weekly: 20 minutes

Writing a blog post: 20 minutes

Brainstorming phone call/career discussion with client: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Reviewing a contract from a publisher: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Lunch with an editor: 3 hours, 30 minutes (including travel time)

Career planning conversation with client: 40 minutes

So there you have it. A peek into what I do with my time.

*This post originally appeared at on Friday, November 21, 2008.

As a literary agent and cofounder of BookEnds, LLC, Jessica Faust prides herself on working closely with her authors to make their goals come to fruition. Her areas of expertise include historical, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and erotic romance, urban fantasy, women's fiction, mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. In nonfiction, Jessica specializes in current affairs, business, finance, career, parenting, psychology, women's issues, self-help, health, sex, and general nonfiction. While open to anything, Jessica is most actively seeking unique fiction with a strong hook, and nonfiction with creative ideas and large author platforms.

What Is a Book Proposal for Nonfiction Writers by Jessica Faust*

Welcome back everyone and Happy New Year! I can tell by my inbox that many of you have made a New Year's Resolution to get your book out on submission this year and for that reason I think today's post and tomorrow's are awfully timely.

One of the nice things about being a nonfiction writer of self-help or how-to books is that you can almost always sell on proposal. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? In other words, you don’t need to write the entire book to find an agent or a publisher. However, writing that proposal can be just as difficult as writing the book. Writing the proposal is all about marketing and positioning and sometimes not so much about the book. But what is a good book proposal? What do editors and agents expect and what can help make your proposal rise above the rest?

We do have short guidelines to a book proposal on our Web site, but I thought I’d give you a peek into what I give my authors, the insider's look into the work I make my clients go through before I submit anything to publishers. In other words, what do I mean when I ask for an overview, author bio, sample material, and a table of contents (toc).

In no particular order and definitely in your own voice and style, a nonfiction book proposal should contain the following elements:

1. Overview

The overview tells the editor, in brief, what your book is about. If you are writing your overview in paragraph form I would suggest you write no more than one or two pages. While it’s true we want to give the editor as much information as possible, we also want her to know that we can be concise. Think of advertising. We don’t want to read pages and pages on the new Apple iPod. An advertisement grabs our attention because it highlights only those most intriguing points. Your overview is really an advertisement for your book.

If one of your biggest marketing or advertising points is you as the author (which it should be), your credentials and the work you do (in other words, your platform) should be part of the overview. In fact, it should probably be one of the biggest pieces of the overview.

Other good points to include are:

#Timeliness of the topic—is it something that’s in the news a lot lately?

#The market—are there 85 million potential buyers for your book?

#The one thing that makes your book stand out from all others.

#Details about the approach you intend to take.

#Special features such as charts, checklists, photos, etc.

2. Author Bio

This could quite possibly be the most critical piece of your book proposal. If there’s one reason, more than any other, that editors are using to reject nonfiction, it’s because of the author’s platform, or lack thereof. When writing your author bio it’s critical that you have made yourself look like the Dr. Phil of your particular subject. We no longer live in a day when freelance writers can make it big writing books. It seems that everyone wants an already established author. Someone who can make this book a bestseller without any work from the publisher.

Again, this is a sales piece, and because of that it’s important to organize your author bio with the most intriguing and exciting information first. We don’t really care if you went to Harvard or not. We care whether or not you can sell this book to thousands of people. Therefore, who are you and what makes you an expert on this subject, and, most important, what gives you a national platform? Do you give workshops? Presentations? Do you teach at Harvard (much different than having attended)? Have you been featured in national magazines, on TV or radio? Do you have a number of major media contacts interested in your subject? Teach at a local community center? Mention as much as you possibly can and highlight the big stuff—the stuff that gives you national recognition. We would rather have you mention too much and have you edit it down than find out after the proposal has already gone out that you are a regular columnist for Time magazine and simply failed to mention this to us.

3. Marketing

Next to the author platform and subject, this is probably the third most important piece of your proposal and actually goes hand in hand with your platform. Not only does the publisher want to know whether or not there is a market for the book, and how big it is, they want to know how you can bring this book to that market.

Some of this might be a repeat from the author bio; however, it should be written more extensively. While you might have mentioned in the author bio that you speak nationally, in the marketing section you are going to expand on that and tell us how many people you speak to and on what subjects. Do you have a speaking schedule for the upcoming year (or two)? Make sure to include it with your proposal. Have you already been featured in major national magazines and newspapers? Mention this and include clips.

Don’t waste a lot of time talking about what you could do or what the publisher can do. Mention instead what you are already doing. It’s easy to think that we can all write articles for major magazines, but unless you’re already doing that there’s no guarantee that you can get published in them. Just because you think your idea should get attention from media sources doesn’t mean they’ll agree. Everyone can make their book a bestseller if they get on Oprah, but don’t even bother mentioning this unless you’ve been on Oprah before. Everyone will take the time out to do whatever publicity or talk show circuit the publisher can get for them, so this doesn’t make you special. What does make you special are the things you’ve done or the columns you write that already get you noticed.

In addition to showing what you can do to market this book, you want to prove that there is a market for this book. Statistics can help. Do you have a Web site with 100,000 subscribers? Did Dateline do a piece on just the topic you’re discussing, or on you? Was there a Newsweek article on you or the subject? Are there organizations all over the country that your book pertains to?

Other things to consider mentioning regarding market:

#Statistics on the size of the market and the extent to which it’s growing.

#Demographic information.

#Media sources you have a connection to—reporters, columnists, etc., in your Rolodex.

#Do you have a foreword writer already—a big name?

#Do you know of an organization that’s already agreed to buy copies of the book when it’s published? Include this information and how many copies.

4. Competition

Probably the second biggest reason an editor will reject a nonfiction book proposal is because of lack of competition or too much competition. Are there other books on the market similar to yours? Don’t be afraid to talk about that fact, but most important, prove how your book stands out from them. When doing this it’s important to see it from the editor’s point of view. I know that we all think your book is different, but the truth is that bookstores are going to shelve it next to other, similar books. So how is your book going to distinguish itself from others? In other words, if readers are only going to read the title and back of the book (probably something similar to your overview), what makes your book shine? Look back to your bookstore activity and the number of books next to yours on the shelf and use this as a guide.

While it’s not necessary to name every competitive title, it is probably a good idea to list the top three or so and show how your book is different. The key here is to present your differences. If an editor likes your book her next job is to present it to the rest of the editorial staff and sales department and convince them that your book is worthy of publication. By giving her ammunition, such as the point of difference between your book and others, you are helping her sell your book. In addition, doing a comparative analysis shows the editor that, in fact, you are an expert and know your competition. She will assume, as we will, that you know all of these books intimately and have read them.

*** Don’t ever think that by not mentioning competitive titles you will trick the editor into believing that there aren’t any. Editors who buy in a certain genre—yours—know the market and know just as much about the competition as you should. They read the books and reviews and regularly scour bookshelves. Therefore, it’s better to be up front in your proposal and prove why your book is different rather than leave it to an editor’s imagination.

5. TOC and Chapter Summaries

The TOC (table of contents) might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people will submit a proposal without one. This is a simple way to give an editor another overview of the book. It’s also the first thing most readers (and editors) will look at when they open a book. If you feel that your TOC warrants cute titles, that’s great. We always want something that makes your book stand out, but it’s important that the title headings clearly describe what the chapter will be about. We shouldn’t have to try to guess. When writing your TOC don’t forget to include any appendices or other supplementary material you intend to include (charts, sample forms, etc.).

Chapter summaries are chapter-by-chapter breakdowns. Including this allows the editor to see how you intend to approach the material and also gives her an idea of your writing style. Chapter summaries are what allow nonfiction writers to submit on proposal rather than with the entire book. When writing your summaries remember to include all of the information that makes your book different and intriguing. If you intend to include charts or photos in a particular chapter, mention that, and, if possible, mention what they will be of.

One important note about chapter summaries: They are the first real impression the editor has of your writing style—so make them shine. Chapter summaries should be fun to read an exciting (as long as you intend for your book to be fun to read and exciting). Please don’t start each one with, “Chapter one will include . . . ” Put your voice into it and make them read as if they were the chapters themselves. The most successful book proposals read like the book, not as a boring outline of what the book could be.

Chapter summaries should be anywhere from one paragraph to five pages long (each).

6. Sample Chapters

Sample chapters are the icing on the cake, and we all know that bad icing can ruin a cake. We should probably stop using the word “sample” when describing the chapters you intend to send out with your proposal. While these are meant to give the editor a sampling of how your chapters will be written (style, voice, and tone), they should be submitted as if they are going straight to publication. In other words, they should be perfect. Like the rest of your proposal the grammar, punctuation, and style should be impeccable. There shouldn’t be any typos and the tone you’ve written the samples in should be indicative of the tone your entire book will be written.

When choosing which sample chapters to write don’t just automatically go to the first. What chapters are your strongest and most intriguing? Write those. After all, your goal is to grab someone’s attention, so why would you submit the most stagnant chapter?

At a minimum, your proposal should include two to three sample chapters or two sample chapters and an introduction. Of course, what you submit can always change depending on your proposal. It might be helpful to discuss this with your agent before getting started. Whatever you decide, think of this: we have seen editors reject a proposal because there wasn’t enough material submitted. From an editor’s perspective it looked lazy, as if the author was unwilling to do the work required to sell the book—which doesn’t bode well for the future. It’s always better to have too much material than too little.

7. Publicity

This is obvious. Supply your agent with newspaper and magazine clips, tapes of radio and TV performances, copies of articles you’ve written or been interviewed for. Etc. Again, it’s better to send too much rather than too little. Your agent can always weed through it and decide what are the most important pieces.

Extra Things to Consider

When all is said and done there are a few extra little tidbits we’d like to add:

#There’s no right or wrong to writing a proposal. Use this as a guide, but don’t forget to add your own personal flare. We’ve sold many, many books and no proposal has truly been like the one before it.

#Page numbers—make sure your proposal has page numbers. I’ve actually had editors complain about this.

#Spelling, typos, and grammar. We can’t stress this enough. If you don’t think you are a strong enough writer or self-editor, consider bringing in someone else to work with you. If you need suggestions ask your agent.

#Extras—do you have an author photo? It can’t hurt to include it.

#Do you plan to include photos or illustrations in your book? Mention that and roughly how many. And always, always include samples.

#Sample news pieces—Did Newsweek do a cover story on just the topic you’re writing about? Include a copy.

#Title—this is the very first thing an editor looks at when reviewing a proposal, so let’s give them something that grabs their attention and yet says clearly what the book is about. Believe it or not we’ve had editors very interested in a book, but before even bringing it to an editorial meeting they called to see if they could change the title. This might be something you and your agent can brainstorm on together.

Have fun with it and good luck!!!

*This post first appeared at on Monday, January 5, 2009.


As a literary agent and cofounder of BookEnds, LLC, Jessica Faust prides herself on working closely with her authors to make their goals come to fruition. Her areas of expertise include historical, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and erotic romance, urban fantasy, women's fiction, mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. In nonfiction, Jessica specializes in current affairs, business, finance, career, parenting, psychology, women's issues, self-help, health, sex, and general nonfiction. While open to anything, Jessica is most actively seeking unique fiction with a strong hook, and nonfiction with creative ideas and large author platforms.

An Interesting Thought on "Rules" by Jessica Faust*

A lot of comments lately have blasted agents and editors for all of our rules. We stifle authors, we cause nothing but problems, and we’re rude to boot. I debated a discussion on rules because I have a feeling I’m going to get blasted for it, but a client of mine pointed out that what makes my blog work are my honest answers and the honest comments I get from my readers.

So here goes . . .

There are seemingly a lot of rules in publishing, but if you’ve ever heard me speak or read enough of my blog posts I think you’ll know that I’ve repeated again and again that those rules are not rules and should not be seen as such, but should be looked upon as guidelines. One of the most frustrating things for me about being blasted for all of our rules is that so many of them are created because authors ask for them, and so many more are not rules I’ve put out but rules authors impose themselves.

I am constantly asked for more clarification, for more rules. Authors want to know a secret to getting in the door. How do you write the perfect query letter, how do you write the perfect synopsis, and how do you write the perfect book? I cannot tell you that. I can give you hints, clues, examples, and critiques. I can do my best to help you along the way, but there are absolutely no rules. You’ve said it yourself, agents impose rules but then sell books that break them. When asked how to write a query letter or a pitch I can give you tips on what I’ve seen that’s worked for me. Does that mean it will work in the same way for another agent? Not necessarily, because it’s all subjective. This is the same for resumes and resume cover letters. You can read a resume book and see hundreds of examples. They might all work for you or they might not. Ultimately, when reading the advice of agents you need to pick and choose what resonates with you.

Reading our blogs should be done in the same manner you read revision letters from critique partners, agents, or your own editor. You need to see what worked and didn’t work for other people and see how it resonates with you. Then you need to make your own decisions. Making smart, professional, and personal decisions are in the end what the only rule should be.

Part of this entire rules thing is that authors often take what we say as an absolute. My comment last year on saying thank you in a query letter is a perfect example. In trying to help one particular reader tighten her thank-you (and granted, I should have used a different tone) I was barraged with criticism and read all over the Internet that if you thank me in a query it is an automatic rejection. What?!? Come on. Do you really think I’m that narrow-minded and obtuse? I will take the blame for the tone I used and I guess I should have explained myself in a kinder, gentler manner, but to have it so blown out of proportion is crazy. I’ve learned as the blog goes on what voice works best for me and my readers and tend not to be snarky anymore (or not much). However, that was certainly not a rule. It was a piece of advice relating to one particular query letter.

So my advice to you . . . take what you read on all agent, editor, and publishing blogs with a grain of salt. We give the best advice we can from our own knowledge base. We have few rules and only guidelines. And while we’d prefer you email a query letter, there are plenty of you who include a page or two of your work, and, you know what, I do read them.

This business is hard enough. Coming up with amazing ideas and writing them with near perfection is not easy, and I know that, I really do know that, so to let these so-called rules get you down is crazy. There are plenty of other things about publishing to get us all down.

*This post originally appeared at on Friday, June 20, 2008.


As a literary agent and cofounder of BookEnds, LLC, Jessica Faust prides herself on working closely with her authors to make their goals come to fruition. Her areas of expertise include historical, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and erotic romance, urban fantasy, women's fiction, mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. In nonfiction, Jessica specializes in current affairs, business, finance, career, parenting, psychology, women's issues, self-help, health, sex, and general nonfiction. While open to anything, Jessica is most actively seeking unique fiction with a strong hook, and nonfiction with creative ideas and large author platforms.

Introducing Jessica Faust and Kim Lionetti

Jessica Faust

As a literary agent and cofounder of BookEnds, LLC, Jessica Faust prides herself on working closely with her authors to make their goals come to fruition. Her areas of expertise include historical, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and erotic romance, urban fantasy, women's fiction, mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. In nonfiction, Jessica specializes in current affairs, business, finance, career, parenting, psychology, women's issues, self-help, health, sex, and general nonfiction. While open to anything, Jessica is most actively seeking unique fiction with a strong hook, and nonfiction with creative ideas and large author platforms.

A veteran of publishing, Jessica began her career in 1994 as an acquisitions editor at Berkley Publishing, Macmillan, and Wiley, where she had the unique opportunity to acquire and edit both fiction and nonfiction. Jessica takes her editing experience to the agency, where she works closely with her authors to create the best possible proposal submissions.

You can contact Jessica directly at

Kim Lionetti

After eight years at Berkley Publishing, Kim Lionetti left her position as Senior Editor to join BookEnds in March 2004. In her editorial work, Kim enjoyed overseeing an eclectic list comprised of romances, westerns, mysteries, nonfiction, and general fiction. While at Berkley, Kim was responsible for creating several successful mystery series and developing nonfiction project ideas, such as The Science of Vampires by Katherine Ramsland, Cannibal: The True Story Behind the Maneater of Rotenburg by Lois Jones, and Jigsaw: Piecing Together a History by Anne Williams. While she enjoys bringing some of that variety to her agenting life, her particular areas of interest are women's fiction, mystery, true crime, pop science, pop culture, and all areas of romance.

Most important, Kim is looking for fresh voices in the fiction she takes on and fresh ideas in nonfiction. Given her extensive editorial background, she enjoys helping authors shape their work into more marketable products and seeing their writing as part of the "bigger picture."

You can contact Kim directly at

How Can I Be Represented by BookEnds?

So often we hear about authors caught in the middle of publishers who don't want to see their work if they are unagented and agents who don't want to see their work if they haven't been published. What's a writer to do? Luckily you've found BookEnds, a literary agency accepting queries from both published and unpublished authors.

As you might imagine, there are a lot of benefits to hiring an agent. An agent has contacts in publishing and knows exactly who might be interested in your particular book. An agent also understands the publishing contract and will make sure that you get the best deal possible. And most important, an agent can help you achieve your career goals and help you plan for what's ahead. BookEnds agents provide the added bonus of years of editorial experience in major publishing houses and can assist you in making your book the best it can be before it goes to the publisher.

As a member of the AAR (Association of Authors' Representatives), BookEnds does not charge reading or evaluation fees. In an attempt to run a "greener" business, BookEnds is no longer accepting unsolicited proposal packages.
To query BookEnds, please e-mail only one agent directly at:

Jessica Faust

Kim Lionetti

and include the word "query" or "submission" in your subject heading.

All snail-mail queries should include a SASE and can be submitted to:

BookEnds, LLCAttn: Agent (please specify agent)
136 Long Hill Rd
Gillette, NJ 07933

BookEnds is currently accepting queries from published and unpublished writers in the areas of romance (and all its sub-genres), erotica, mystery, suspense, women's fiction, and literary fiction. We also do a great deal of nonfiction in the areas of spirituality, new age, self-help, business, finance, health, pop science, psychology, relationships, parenting, pop culture, true crime, and general nonfiction.

For more information on how to successfully put together a proposal and query, please see the FAQs page.

BookEnds agents do reply to all submissions and queries, including e-queries, and hopes to do so in a timely manner. Our response times are traditionally 10 to 12 weeks on requested partials or fulls, 2 to 4 weeks on e-mail queries. If you havenÕt heard from us after that time has passed, please feel free to drop us an e-mail with the following information: which agent the submission was sent to, the date it was sent, the title, and the author name.

*****Please Note:

BookEnds does not handle children's books, science fiction, short fiction, poetry, screenplays, techno-thrillers, or military fiction.

While BookEnds agents will do their very best to respond to every submission in the proper SASE, they are not responsible for SASEs returned for improper postage.

Our e-mail service's spam filters are growing more aggressive by the day, and unfortunately even properly addressed e-mails are sometimes mistakenly identified as spam and deleted. If you haven't received a reply to an e-mail query after a reasonable amount of time, your best bet is to resubmit your query via regular mail.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blog Tours 101 by Jodi M. Webb

My mom is annoyed at me. Again. It drives her crazy that I have a job that she’s never heard of and she can’t explain to her friends. I’m a Blog Tour organizer. So, for my mom and everyone else who is a little fuzzy on blog tours here’s the scoop.

Definition: Blog tours are like book tours but, instead of going from book store to book store, you go from blog to blog.

Question: But what do you do once you get there?

Answer: There are lots of options. The owner of the blog (blogger) can post their review
of your book, an excerpt, or your book trailer. They can post a video, podcast or written interview they do with you, give away your book, or run a guest post. A guest post is a short piece (500 words) you write about your book and writing, your life, or even something like baking cupcakes or traveling to foreign countries.

Question: What are the advantages of a blog tour?

Answer: You don’t have to get out of your jammies. Okay, there are other things. Bloggers have followers that automatically receive an email or feed of their blog posts everyday. They can guarantee you that these people will get info about your book as opposed to book store events that may only attract 8 people (sadly I know this from personal experience). You won’t be traveling here, there, and everywhere wasting gas and time you could be writing. And, since most bloggers archive their posts, visiting a blog is like a book store event that lasts forever. Visitors could read about your book tomorrow, next week, even next year. They can also instantly visit your website, blog, book trailer, and even purchase your book immediately through your publisher’s website or They can also blog, Twitter, or email friends about this great new author—you!

Question: What blogs should I include in my tour?

Answer: Obviously, blogs that have a lot of visitors or regular followers. But they also should have to be your target audience. For example, if you wrote a romance novel and you stumbled across a super-popular blog called skip them. Most romance readers are female, we’ll have to assume that most readers of are male. In the real world visiting would be like writing a romance and having a book event at man’s clothing store.

Question: So I should only approach blogs with many followers?

Answer: No, there is an exception. Let’s pretend you’ve written a niche book directed at a very specific group—how about women writers. If you find a general blog for women called with 20,000 followers and a blog for women writers called that has 10,000 followers definitely go for You know that all 10,000 of their followers are your target audience. With you don’t know how many of the 20,000 are writers. This is where the Internet can work to your advantage. Although there are no bookstores dedicated to OCD, raising environmentally aware children, or only books set in the South, there are popular blogs dedicated to them.

Question: Can I set up a blog tour myself?

Answer: Yes, but…(you knew there was a but, didn’t you?) there are some disadvantages.

1. If you’re working from scratch it will take you some time to discover the high traffic blogs that welcome blog tours. Also, some blogs prefer to work only with organized blog tours that can assure them they’re being offered a quality book.

2. You might visit a few clunker blogs that you have problems with: they forget to post your review or something else.

3. It’s tough to be both the thrilled author and the tough marketer who is pestering a blogger to get the post just right. It’s nice to have a middleman (or woman).

4. Organized blog tours often announce your blog tour to a larger group, offering you additional publicity.

Jodi M. Webb is also the author of Pennsylvania Trivia: Weird, Wacky, and Wild(Blue Bike Books) and hundreds of articles in magazines such as Grandparents Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, PTO Today, and The History Magazine. If you want to know more about WOW Blog Tours you can reach her at .