This post is specifically for all you readers who are also writers.
Last week at a local writer's group of which I'm a part, we had the honor of welcoming Pamela Clements, mentor and publishing consultant, most recently a VP in publishing at Worthy Publishing Group in Franklin, TN. She spoke for two hours. We listened, asked questions, and pondered. She was direct, powerful, loving, kind, and very, very insightful.
Here are tidbits of wisdom, straight from her mouth. I type them here for you, but also for myself, to help me digest them all over again. So brace yourself. And get out your notepad and pen.
Let's dive in:
"Tell the truth. Your book has got to be authentic."
"Can you tell me what your book is about in seven words?"
"Books get ranked and placed in specific spots on the publisher's list for a million reasons. Sales, marketability, viability of author, if people will champion it, etc."
"Publishers hate it when there is no comp title. You must have comp titles."
"You just are who you are. You just are. You're just you. And God loves YOU. That's all. And that's everything."
"Good business makes for good ministry. Bad business makes for bad ministry."
"You want the editor or marketer to put your book down (after reading it the first time) and say to herself 'How can I make this work?' Meaning: 'I don't want to let this book go.'"
"If you have a book that is very specific, about a very specific need, but not a mass need ... if you have a book that an editor says to you 'This is a good book that somebody needs, but nobody's going to sign this book.' Then this is the perfect type of book for self-publishing. Because people can find your book online after you write it. And somebody searching for help/support for that specific [thing] needs to hear your story."
"Don't be focused on a particular format of delivering content that is no longer attached to your readers' needs."
"You don't have to chew all the flavor out of everything you put in your mouth."
In regards to over-committing yourself to ANYTHING: "You can just say no. No. It's a complete sentence."
"Steady sales are what's important to keep your book on the shelf at bookstores. Not massive sales, but definitely steady sales. That's what people are looking for when deciding not to remove your book from the shelf after six months."
"You need to sell YOU to the agent. Then you sell your book. Presence first. Get his/her attention."
"Agents and editors are friends. It's a powerful relationship."
"Am I proud of the books I represented through the years? Yes. But the biggest impact I know I've had is with other women in the industry. Speak life into other women. Women make a difference. Be the light. Take time to touch others while you're doing your work."
AND FINALLLY, MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, straight from the mouth of Mrs. Clements herself, her answer to questions about the ever-evolving industry of books and writing:
Thank you so much, Pamela, for coming to speak to us! Your words and wisdom touched us all!
Here's more on Mrs. Clements:
Pamela Clements was most recently the Vice President and Associate Publisher of Worthy’s Inspired and Ellie Claire imprints. Clements is an industry veteran, having also served as Associate Publisher of Abingdon’s Christian Living and Fiction books which from its launch in 2011, published over 15 award-winning fiction and Christian living titles and was named Publisher of the Year by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Prior to that, she was Associate Publisher at Hachette. Clements began her career at Thomas Nelson in publicity and marketing before becoming publisher of its General Interest and Lifestyle imprint. She was instrumental in the launch of such best-selling authors as Andy Andrews, John Eldredge, John Maxwell, Babbie Mason, Ted Dekker, Cynthia Ruchti and Barbara Mahaney. A life-long reader, Pamela is committed to helping authors craft books that touch and change lives. Throughout her career, she has been privileged to work with other women in many different roles and believes that women supporting other women is important especially as the next generation takes its place in both business and ministry.
This little grammar book is entertaining me again. How is it possible?
The writing nuggets draw me in, every time.
Last night, I sat fireside (during an unusually cold, three degree Fahrenheit evening in Arkansas) and read a most helpful reminder, found on page twenty-one:
"If those who have studied the art of writing are in accord on any one point, it is this: the surest way to arouse and hold the reader's attention is by being specific, definite, and concrete. The greatest writers—Homer, Dante, Shakespeare—are effective largely because they deal in particulars and report the details that matter. Their words call up pictures."
When I write, please help me to do this.
Now ... back at it! (Back to my writing, that is...)
Hugs to all,
P.S. The Mod Code book #3, The Lost Lineage, releases in less than one month! (Feb. 14th, 2018!)
I had a reader email in asking me some questions about my writing life, and I thought I would answer them here on my blog.
So here we go:
What drew you to write YA fiction? In particular, science fiction?
I’ve always loved the young adult genre of books. YA conquers big topics in a digestible way for readers of all ages.
In regards to science fiction, specifically, my answer is two-fold:
First, I have a tendency to think deeply and regularly about God and the big questions in life. When I'm in that space, the world is vast.
Secondly, I had a vivid dream that actually turned into chapter 22 in The Mod Code (book #1 in the series). That dream set the stage for the “science-fictiony” side of the book.
What kind of language do you use and how do you handle sensitive subjects?
Do you mean inappropriate kinds of language? If so, then the answer is, I’m a pretty conservative parent—especially when it comes to what books my children read. I usually think about what words I would want my son or daughter reading when they turn thirteen, and I make sure my books would be on my own “mom allowed” list.
How did you market your books when you first started out?
A bit of social media. A few failed attempts at contests/book competitions. Book club talks. Mainly, I knew I just needed to keep writing books so my available offerings would expand, and then, my readership could expand with it
I see your ratings are very good. How do you manage that outside of being an excellent writer? How did you get your books noticed?
In general, I don’t think anyone will get good ratings with a bad book.
My most important advice in this entire blog post would be this: KEEP WRITING. And, in addition, you must keep IMPROVING your writing. It’s imperative to learn what makes a good book a good book. I learned this through a ton of reading about how to do that, and then implementing that advice into my own writing. Because ultimately, word isn’t going to spread about a book if people don’t feel it’s worthwhile enough to share with other people.
Hope this helps, Marilyn!
Have a great day everybody. : )