How to Turn Your Book Ideas into Money in the Bank, Step 6: Query Letters and Self-Publishing

Welcome back to our Turning Book Ideas into Money series! So far we have covered:

If you have decided to go the traditional route and get your book published with the big dogs in New York, then you will need to craft a short, compelling query letter.

This is a dreaded step for writers the world over. How can we be expected to compress our 100,000 word manuscript into a 250 word blurb? It’s outrageous, impossible! I won’t do it and that’s it. You can resent it. You can refuse to play by their rules. And you will never get that beauty published. Your idea, outlined, written, edited to a prosy shine, will lie forever in a drawer.

Are you ready to suck it up and write a query like a good little writer?

Check out this post for examples of winning queries. Note how each query differs slightly, depending on the genre of the book it represents, but also note that they all share one common thread: they sell both the book and the author.

A query letter is a letter of introduction, introducing a literary agent to you and your book. BUT, it is also much more than that. It is the last step in your Jedi training. Master the query and you will be crowned a Jedi Knight, powerful in the ways of the Writing Force. Succeed in this and you will have your own literary agent. Of course, there yet remain plenty of hurdles between your dream and sales. But crafting a successful query is a major check in the win column.

Here are 5 quick tips on drafting winning queries:

  1. Research potential agents: genres they like, titles and authors they’ve sold
  2. Drop the old-school gender salutation and just start with: Dear Jennifer Jackson,
  3. The Hook: What is the unique aspect of your novel? Open the letter with that
  4. The Body of the letter should include: Main character (don’t give a run-down of every character) and the person/group/thing that is keeping the MC from attaining her deepest desire. Don’t forget to include What is at Stake. What is exceptional about your created world? Ideally this will be something the agent has not yet seen
  5. The Snatch-N-Grab closing: Compare your book to other successful works, especially if they are books this agent has sold or mentioned as a favorite

Continue reading “How to Turn Your Book Ideas into Money in the Bank, Step 6: Query Letters and Self-Publishing”

How to Turn Your Book Idea into Money in the Bank, Step 4: The Soundtrack to Your Writing

Welcome back to our journey from Book Idea to Money in the Bank! So far we have covered (1) the vital and exciting Step of fantasizing your idea into life inside your mind (2) the importance of outlining your idea and everything you need in that outline (3) and finally we examined the actual act of writing in all its glorious and dirty detail. Today let’s discover the Soundtrack to your Writing.

As I’m sure you know, music can be motivating. The right song can make you feel invincible or full of ambition. Where it concerns writing, music is especially important; tracking down the right tunes and sounds help to place you in the proper motivated mindset. Certain tracks and genres can even enhance a scene if you listen to them while writing.

MUSIC TO WRITE BY

Some literary artists swear by their Enya or Meditation music; a number claim that only ocean sounds work for them; a few writers praise the focusing power of techno or alternative; still others swear by absolute silence—or by the natural sounds of the world.

J.K. Rowling created the world of Harry Potter inside a busy café (The Elephant House), as British baristas slung java and patrons groaned over their busy schedules. It seems incredible to me that anyone could write anything worthwhile in a crowded place. Probably it will remain a mystery to me. But it sure worked for her. Whatever works for you, go for it.

Here we are interested in extolling the virtues of discovering the right soundtrack for your novel writing experience.

So, onward and upward, my fellow travelers.

Music can drown out distractions from the world around the writer, so that she can focus on the world inside. The right music can enhance a scene as it is being written. According to PSYBLOG, listening to music boosts your verbal IQ—a clear benefit for any writer trying to get her point across. (Astute writers read their work aloud, as they know that verbalizing reveals awkward dialogue and poorly structured phrasing.)

IT’S INSPIRATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL

Continue reading “How to Turn Your Book Idea into Money in the Bank, Step 4: The Soundtrack to Your Writing”

How to Turn Your Book Idea into Money in the Bank, Part 1: Conception

Hello writers/self-publishers! Let’s jump right into a new series. Take it to the Bank is my latest resource for helping new writers develop their careers in the most frugal manner possible.

Each of these 9 posts will provide you with a quick exploration of successive chapters in the book, with links and helpful tips provided throughout.

The AHA Moment
Today we are exploring Conception–a titillating subject. One of the great joys of writing is first conceiving your book idea, that ‘aha’ moment, when inspiration strikes like Cupid’s arrow and you want nothing more than a few hot minutes to explore the idea.

When it strikes, everything else seems to stop. You must take advantage of this moment and jot down your idea.

The physical act of recording your inspiration will reinforce its importance in your mind, firmly establishing it in your memory cortex and moving it from a fleeting short-term thought to a vital initiative on which your creative mind will unconsciously dwell.

Fantasize About It

Remember when your school teachers snapped at you for fantasizing during class? Well, they were wrong-o! The best thing you can do at this point in your journey from Idea to Money in the Bank is to fantasize about it.

Let your mind wander down twisted corridors of imagination. Let it stroll through ancient enchanted forests. Let it lead you down the path of most resistance, where difficult quesitons are not merely examined, but hoisted, weighed, smelled, licked, and smashed with Nordic hammers. Let your mind fill up with scenes and plotlines. Let it run amuck.

Reader’s Digest has a nice simple post showing you 5 ways to come up with story ideas, while Ali Luke of Aliventures (who also wrote Publishing E-Books for Dummies) provides a comprehensive list of methods for you.

We explore in greater detail the importance of fantasizing your idea into an entire world, fully supported by characters and social systems and history, in the first step of Take it to the Bank, recently published and available for a short period for only .99 cents, here.

Enjoy, and have fun conjuring your idea into a book that will–through 8 more steps–lead to money in the bank!