Showing posts with label nathan bransford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nathan bransford. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 24

How To Create A Press Kit

How To Create A Press Kit

When I posted the other day about how Mike Reeves-McMillan got honest book reviews he mentioned having put together a press kit.

Having a press kit seems like a great idea since it means you'll have all the important information about both yourself and your books in one place for anyone interested to browse through.

Also, having a press kit makes it easy for the author when she/he needs to send information about the book to someone months--or years--after the launch. There's no wondering which directory the information is in, no panicked searches (or perhaps that's just me!). You know where all the information is and it's easy for anyone to access.

So, what, exactly, should go into a press kit?

Building A Press Kit: Author Information

In her article, Book Marketing: Creating Your Author Press Kit, Tolulope Popoola discusses how to put together your own press kit.

1. Author biography

I hate writing these! But it is one of the first things people want to know. What's your background, what kind of books do you write, how did you become a writer?

Tolulope writes:
Your author bio should be about 200 words, and it should have things that make you sound interesting and professional. You should include your name, your place of birth or where you currently live, what you do (or used to do) for a living, what you’ve written, perhaps your education (if it’s relevant), quirky hobbies, or interesting travel experiences. Basically, anything that will make you stand out.
This would also be a good place to list any relevant awards, were any of your previous books best-sellers, and so on.

2. Contact information

How can folks get a hold of you? A website? Blog? Twitter? Facebook? Also, list your agent if you have one.

3. Press release

Steven Lewis advises writers to pay less attention to what your book is about than to what it can do for your readers. Also, consider what market, what demographic, would be most interested in your book.

4. Sample author Q&A

Writers, bloggers especially, are always hungry for more information, so give them some! Tolulope writes:
Make a list of interview questions (and responses) about you and your book. This can include questions about your background, your inspiration for writing this book, why you chose to self-publish, your own favorite writers, future projects, etc. This section is particularly helpful for the interviewer and bloggers who want to help you promote your work, as it’s useful and ready content for them.

Building A Press Kit: Book Information

Book sample

Provide up to three chapters. As for what format you should offer them in, Tolulope made a PDF available for download, but I would suggest making your sample chapters available in as many formats as possible.

If you're having trouble converting your book from one format to another, you could try Calibre. The program is free and it's awesome.

Cover image

Often if a person is writing about your book they'll want a picture, so it's a good idea to provide the cover image. I don't think you need to provide this in many different formats, a jpg should be enough.

Where the book can be found on the web

List wherever your book can be bought as well as other sites it is featured on, sites such as Goodreads.

Sample reviews

Provide excerpts from reviews along with a link to the full text on the web.

The books "one line"

This is one line that sums up the primary conflict in your novel. For instance, they used to write a one line description of a movie on the can a reel of film was stored in that described the movie.

Nathan Bransford has written excellent how-to articles about how to summarize your book in a sentence. (see: How to Write a One Sentence Pitch

Brief Book Summary

This is generally quite short, something under 200 words or so. For example, this is Nathan Bransford's brief book summary for Jacob Wonderbar.
Jacob Wonderbar has been the bane of every substitute teacher at Magellan Middle School ever since his dad moved away from home. He never would have survived without his best friend Dexter, even if he is a little timid, and his cute-but-tough friend Sarah Daisy, who is chronically overscheduled. But when the trio meets a mysterious man in silver one night they trade a corn dog for his sassy spaceship and blast off into the great unknown. That is, until they break the universe in a giant space kapow and a nefarious space buccaneer named Mick Cracken maroons Jacob and Dexter on a tiny planet that smells like burp breath. The friends have to work together to make it back to their little street where the houses look the same, even as Earth seems farther and farther away.

Longer Book summary

This can be as much as 5,000 words or so that summarizes what happens in each chapter of your book (in other words, a synopsis) or it can be a book summary like you did above, just a bit longer. If you're like me you started off with a longer description and had to whittle it down to the essentials so you already have it.

Some sites (Smashwords for example) allow you to post both long and short descriptions so it's handy to have both, just in case.

By the way, this article of Nathan Bransford's is, hands down, the most helpful article I've read on summarizing a novel: The One Sentence, One Paragraph, and Two Paragraph Pitch. Also, see his article on how to write a one sentence pitch.

Example of a press kit

Tolulope included a link in her article to Michael Hyatt's press kit.

That's it!

What advice would you give a new author interested in assembling a press kit?

Other articles you might like:

- Chuck Wendig On Fairy Dross And Pegasus Dreams
- How To Write A Critique: The Sandwich Method
- How Robert J. Sawyer Writes A Novel

Photo credit: "The Reporter" by CEBImagery (dot) com under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Thursday, November 8

Third Person Omniscient, Third Person Limited or First Person. Which Point of View Is Right For You?

Third Person Omniscient, Third Person Limited or First Person. Which Point of View Is Right For You?

In a recent post Nathan Bransford talked turkey about Point of View.

First Person

In the first person perspective everything that happens in your story is told through your narrator's perspective. For example:
"Ouch! That hurt," I yelled. Jan glanced back and grinned.
"Oh, I'm sorry, was that your foot?" she said.
I glared at Jan's back as she peddled off into the distance, laughing maniacally. She would pay. Oh, yes, she would pay.
Nathan Bransford says this of it:
The really compelling first person narrators are the ones where a unique character is giving you their take on something that is happening, and yet it's clear to the reader that it's not the whole story. You're getting a biased look at the world, which is central to the appeal of the first person narrative. [1]
For example, in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series each story is told by Harry Dresden, Chicago's only consulting wizard. As a result, the books are infused with his personality. A very good thing! But the reader doesn't know whatever Harry doesn't know and sometimes that's quite a lot; enough, certainly, to keep the story interesting.

Nathan Bransford suggests that if you use the first person prspective that you make your character likeable. Or at least likable enough to pass the "stuck in an elevator" test. He writes:
Would you want to be stuck in a room with this person for six hours? Would you want to listen to this person give a speech for six hours? If the answer is no, then you might want to reconsider. [1]

Third Person: Limited Versus Omniscient

In the third person perspective, limited, you are, as the name implies, limited to one person's point of view while in the omniscient mode you can peek into the minds of all your characters and report what you find. While the latter is VERY convenient it's not as personal.

Here's an example of third person limited:
"Ouch! That hurt," Karen yelled. Jan glanced back and grinned.
"Oh, I'm sorry, was that your foot?"
Karen glared at Jan's back as she peddled off into the distance, laughing maniacally. Karen decided that Jan would pay for defiling the pristine newness of her sneakers.
It's not quite as personal because you're not hearing Karen's thoughts first hand, you're being told them by someone else.

In third person omniscient you can dip inside the head of anyone in the scene.

The Choice: Do You Want To Head-Jump?

Nathan Bransford writes that the decision whether to use third person limited or third person omniscient comes down to whether you want to head-jump. He writes:
Third person limited is, well, limited. The perspective is exclusively grounded to one character, unless you cheat a little. This means that you have all of the constraints of first person (all the reader sees is what the protagonist sees), but with just a tad more freedom. The reader will wonder a bit more precisely what that character is thinking and there's a bit more of an objective sensibility.

One of the classic third person limited narratives is the Harry Potter series, and Rowling strays from Harry's perspective in only a tiny few rare instances. She therefore had to bend over backwards to filter everything the reader needed to know about that world through Harry's view. If Harry can't see it? It doesn't happen for the reader.

I would wager my sorting hat that things like the invisibility cloak and the pensieve were extremely inventive ways around the narrative challenges posed by third person limited. There is no "offstage" for the reader to witness something that Harry can't see, so instead he has to be present to see he shouldn't  (invisibility cloak) and witnessing historical events for himself (pensieve).

Third person omniscient is, ostensibly, a bit more freeing, because you aren't limited to a single character's perspective. However, it's also very difficult because for a reader it's very disorienting to head-jump. If you're inside one character's head and then jump to the next character's head and then another, it's very difficult for the reader to place themselves in a scene. They just have whiplash. [1]
He ends by saying:
That's the key: Whatever perspective you choose, it has to be grounded. The reader has to know where they are in relation to the action so they can get their bearings and lose themselves in the story.
Nathan Bransford's entire post is well worth reading--heck, all his posts are!: Third Person Omniscient vs. Third Person Limited.

Other articles you might like:

- David Mamet On How To Write A Great Story
- How To Earn A Living As A Self-Published Writer
- Using Pinch Points To Increase Narrative Drive

Referenced articles:
1) First Person vs. Third Person, Nathan Bransford

Photo credit: "Writing" by ^ Missi ^ under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Wednesday, October 17

Query Letters: How To Write Them And Who To Send Them To

Query letters, summaries, tag lines, blurbs: sometimes I think this kind of writing is as hard as writing a novel!

Fortunately there are writers like Chuck Sambuchino willing to lend a helping hand. He writes:
When contacting agents, the query process isn’t as simple as “Just keep e-mailing until something good happens.” There are ins, outs, strange situations, unclear scenarios, and plenty of what-have-you that block the road to signing with a rep.
Chuck Sambuchino mentions agents, but query letters can be sent to editors too. Though there are fantastic agents there are also a bushel-load of not very good ones and these days it is possible to have a career as a writer without an agent. If you'd like to read more about this, here are a few great articles on the subject:

Dodging the Agent Bullet and Agents, by Laura Resnick
Deal Breakers 2012 by Kris Rusch,
Agent Fail by Joe Konrath
But Why Would You… Ever Need an Agent in this New World? and Agents by Dean Wesley Smith

Okay, on to the good stuff! Here are Mr. Sambuchino's first four questions and answers about query letters:
1. Can you query multiple agents at the same agency?

Generally, no. A rejection from one usually means a rejection from the entire agency. If you query one agent and she thinks the work isn’t right for her but still has promise, she will pass it on to fellow agents in the office who can review it themselves. Agents work together like that.

2. Can you re-query an agent after she rejects you?

You can, though I’d say you have about a 50/50 shot of getting your work read. Some agents seem to be more than open to reviewing a work if it’s been overhauled or undergone serious edits. Other agents, meanwhile, believe that a no is a no—period. So, in other words, you really don’t know, so you might as well just query away and hope for the best.

3. Do you need to query conservative agent for a conservative book? A liberal agent for a liberal book?

I asked a few agents this question and some said they were willing to take on any political slant if the book was well written and the author had platform. A few agents, on the other hand, said they needed to be on the same page politically with the author for a political/religious book, and would only take on books they agreed with. Bottom line: Some will be open-minded; some won’t. Look for reps who have taken on books similar to yours, and feel free to query other agents, too. The worst any agent can say is no.

4. Should you mention your age in a query? Do agents have a bias against older writers and teenagers?

I’m not sure any good can come from mentioning your age in a query. Usually the people who ask this question are younger than 20 or older than 70. Concerning an age bias, I would say some agents may be hesitant to sign older writers because reps are looking for career clients, not simply individuals with one memoir/book to sell. If you’re older, write multiple books to convince an agent that you have several projects in you … and don’t mention your age in the query to be safe.
Excellent advice! Read the rest of Chuck Sambuchino's article here: 9 Frequently Asked Questions About Query Letters. Thanks to Elizabeth S. Craig for tweeting a link to Chuck's article.

Another person with loads of marvelous information on how to write a query letter is former agent Nathan Bransford. Here are links to a few of his articles on the subject:
- How to Write a Query Letter
- How To Format a Query Letter
- Example of a Good Query Letter
- Example of a Good Query Letter II
- Example of a Good Query Letter III
- Holiday Cheer: Anatomy of a Really Bad Query Letter
- My Query Letter for JACOB WONDERBAR

If you don't read any other article about writing a query letter, read this one: Query Letter Mad Lib. In it Nathan gives a template for writing query letters. He writes:
Well, we're going to play query letter mad lib today. Here's how it works.

First I'm going to need these things:

[Agent name], [genre], [personalized tidbit about agent], [title], [word count], [protagonist name], [description of protagonist], [setting], [complicating incident], [verb], [villain], [protagonist's quest], [protagonist's goal], [author's credits (optional)], [your name]

Now, look how your query turns out:

Dear [Agent name],

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author's credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]
Best of luck writing your query letter! :-)

Other articles you might like:
- Query Tracker: Keep Track Of Your Stories
- Indie vs. Traditional Publishing, Which Should You Choose?
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Photo credit: davide vizzini

Monday, August 27

Nathan Bransford: The Pubishing Process In GIF Form

Best. Post. Ever.

Enough said.

Read Nathan Bransford's post here: The Publishing Process In Gif Form.

The clip from the TV series Friends of Joey Tribbiani (aka Matt LeBlanc) is my favorite.

Other articles you might like:
- Amanda Hocking's Unusual Writing Schedule
- Pixar: 22 Ways To Tell A Great Story

Photo credit: Yasin Hassan

Sunday, April 24

How to write a query letter: the paint-by-number approach

How to write a query letter: the paint-by-number approach

Writing a query letter is hard work—nearly as hard as writing the book! That was my experience at least. Nathan Bransford's blog got me through it and helped me produce a query letter I was happy with. I highly recommend this post to anyone writing a query letter: Query Letter Mad Lib.

Skeleton Query

Dear [Agent name],

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author's credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]

Nathan Bransford's Post About Writing Query Letters

Nathan Bransford has several other terrific posts about writing a query letter:

Happy querying!

Other articles you might like:

- Query Letters: How To Write Them And Who To Send Them To
- Query Tracker: Keep Track Of Your Stories
- How To Structure Your Story

Photo credit: "Student and Teacher" by Wonderlane under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Saturday, January 8

2011: The year of the tablet

Looks like tablets are going to be the hot item this year. Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent, now an author and CNET employee, wrote yesterday that, "if there's one hot device out there this year it's the tablet. Tablet tablet tablet".

He makes the point, which I think is a good one, that once a person owns a tablet there is no further financial impediment to purchasing and reading an ebook.  Since ebooks are, in general, less expensive than hardcover books and even sometimes less expensive than paperbacks, this is likely to increase the number of ebooks purchased and read.

This could be the year that more ebooks than pulp-and-paper books and bought and sold.

How does it feel to live in the midst of a digital revolution?