Tuesday, July 10, 2012

5 Tips and Tidbits from the Book Publishing Today Panel

by Jacqueline Fauni

We had a fantastic time at The Junction's first book publishing panel, which was moderated by the lovely Colette Sartor, and featured one of our own members, Panio Gianopoulos, co-founder of Palindrome Media and Backlit Fiction, as well as literary agents Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, Jennifer Rofe of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, BJ Robbins of the BJ Robbins Literary Agency, and Wendy Rohm of the Rohm Agency. For those of you who missed out, here are some of the insightful tips and tidbits we picked up from the panel:

1. First and foremost, you must finish your manuscript. Sure, it's standard practice for most agencies to require only a sample chapter when you query and then (if you hit that sweet spot of luck, talent, and preparedness) to request a partial, but before you send off that query letter, make sure you have a complete manuscript to back it up! And while most agents will work with you in an editorial capacity, you should do everything in your power to whip your manuscript into the best shape it can be before you approach them. Get feedback from people you trust to give you honest, constructive criticism (no, your pets don't count, no matter how remarkably intelligent they are), and rewrite, rewrite, and -- this is key -- rewrite until you're confident and ready to submit. That being said, you still need to be open to feedback from the agents you're contacting. Of course, getting any feedback at all is promising!

2. Do your research. Your goal is to find an agent who will be your greatest advocate. Don't know where to begin? Almost everything you need to know to write the best query letter to your dream agent will most likely be found on his or her agency's website. Read up on the submissions guidelines for each of your prospective agencies, and look into which agents might be the best fit for you and your story. Here's a nifty tip from Panio that can get you started on pinpointing those agents: Pick up one of your favorite books, or a book that's related to yours, and check the acknowledgments for the author's agent, who will (hopefully) be thanked in there. Keep doing this with more books and you can start to get a sense of which agents tend to have long-term and particularly fruitful relationships with their authors. Then go ahead and Google them!

3. Be proactive in building your platform. So often we hear about how authors can't solely depend on their publishing houses to promote their books. Nowadays, it's not enough to just write the next great American novel -- you have to market it yourself! What is the publishing world coming to?! However, if we stop being such Debbie Downers about it, we'd see the fountain of fun and potential in this reality. In an age where social media is the norm, connecting with an audience has become a real time phenomenon -- one that is more direct and can feel more personal. Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Figment, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. have made it possible for authors to find themselves just a click/tweet/wall post away from their readers. And today, according to the ever-reliable source of my own experience, most consumers will do their research before buying your book. Get yourself social media and SEO savvy so the first results they come across are what you want them to find about you and your book -- like your official website or fan page featuring sterling reviews, rather than mortifying videos of you doing God-knows-what seven years ago.

4. Amazon is your biggest frenemy. Amazon's got lovers and haters, and some that are on the fence, but there's one undeniable truth -- everybody knows about it. Whether you're a proud Prime member and see Amazon users' book reviews as a go-to resource, or refuse to buy any books from Amazon because they're responsible for putting a lot of bookstores out of business and you're disgusted by news of them taking over with all their acquisitions and new imprints, you have to (at least reluctantly) acknowledge that Amazon is a formidable contender in the book market. There are two things that mainly account for Amazon's tremendous success: (1) it's cheap, and (2) it's convenient -- two things that top the list of priorities for most consumers. What does this mean for authors? The success of your listing on Amazon can make or break your sales. And on another note, with Kindle Direct Publishing, self-publishing has become more accessible to both first-time and seasoned authors, but of course, any success from it is relative. In any case, Amazon can be an author's best friend or worst nightmare (or both).

5. Miracles happen in publishing, too. For those of you who marvel at how Fifty Shades of Grey ever became mainstream, let alone optioned by Universal, you may be enlightened to know that such publishing phenomena have occurred in the past (e.g. The Bridges of Madison County -- according to one of our panelists who I will leave unnamed in case there are any die-hard Bridges-of-Madison-County fans out there that may want his blood), with no other conceivable explanation than that it just happened. Seeing these distasteful things that shouldn't even be called novels at the top of the bestseller list can be frustrating, but for those of us who see these strange occurrences as miracles rather than blasphemies, it can be a pretty encouraging sign. We know the chances of making it big in the publishing world are rather slim, and we can be depressed by the winding, fickle road of publishing trends and how it's paved with downtrodden books that never see the light of day, but here's another way to look at it: If magic can happen for that book, who says it can't happen for my incredibly awesome, life-changing, out-of-this-world, beyond-the-scope-of-anybody-else's-imagination novel?

And with those humble (and arguably self-delusional) thoughts, I will leave you. Many thanks to our wonderful panelists, moderator, and attendees for making it such a fun night!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Friday Night Book Salon with Wendy Goldman Rohm

Why take the class? To be a better writer. To gain insider insight into the publishing industry. To develop a valuable set of tools you won't learn about anywhere else.
This class fills up fast, so sign up now!

6 meetings on Fridays, July 13th - August 17th
At The Writers Junction
Cost: $650
*** $50 discount extended to all Writers Junction members ***
Limited Seats Available
Open to members & non-members, but discount for members only.

The course is inspired by the original series of Masters Teas that Ms. Rohm presented at Yale University. This Friday night series will be playful and relaxed, and we'll be offering snacks, wine, and beverages while exploring many entertaining dimensions of narrative. 

In this 6-week intensive, you will embark on an adventure, a journey into your own ideas that will be full of surprises, challenges, and revelations.  Writers will be given a foundation on which to build something solid, beautiful, and long-lasting. Participants will generate new material and fine tune existing material, and breakthrough story problems and blocks.

 During our interactive sessions, you will explore:
  • How to Define and Create Your Most Compelling Book or Story: Conscious and Unconscious Processes
  • The Elements of Structure
  • Creating Plot, Place and Character Outlines for Any Genre
  • Active Versus Passive Writing: Some Tips, Tools and Techniques
  • Identifying Your Audience
  • The Role of Research in both Fiction and Nonfiction
  • Developing Your Voice and Point of View
  • How to Stay On Track
  • The Role of Exclusive and Original Material
  • Sourcing Tips and Techniques
  • How to Present Your Book to Agents and Publishers
The class will meet for six sessions on Friday from 7:30pm-10:30pm, July 13th to August 17th.   

This workshop will be held at The Writers Junction, located at 1001 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica. 

$650. A $50 discount will be extended to all Writers Junction members.  

Please purchase your tickets HERE: http://rohmbooksalon.eventbrite.com


Wendy Goldman Rohm, New York Times best-selling author and literary agent, has taught and lectured for MediaBistro, Yale University, onboard the QEII, and at numerous universities and organizations in the US, Europe and Asia. She has presented her writing and book workshops since 2002. The workshops were originally inspired by her Masters Teas at Yale University. Rohm's work has been published by Random House, The New York Times Syndicate International, Wired magazine, Tina Brown's Talk magazine, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Financial Times of London, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, Playboy magazine and many others. She's also been a literary agent and author for Sterling Lord Literistic, New York; The Waxman Agency, NY; Waterside Productions, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.; and founded The Rohm Agency (TheRohmLiteraryAgency.com) to represent emerging authors of fiction and nonfiction. Rohm has appeared as a commentator on numerous national and international television and radio broadcasts, including The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and numerous programs on CNN, BBC, CNBC, PBS, NPR and others. She welcomes contact at: Wendy@RohmLiterary.com  

From Wendy's Students:

"Whatever stage of writing your book you find yourself - not yet started or almost done - Wendy's classes are sure to fill in missing pieces and break through stumbling blocks. Whether it's through her unique guided meditation method, where she navigates you through scenes in your own book with her soft voice, or running you through the ins and outs of getting published with her natural business savvy, you are sure to benefit from her tips and techniques that will get your book finished and at the door of publishers."
 ~AG, Bangkok, 2011

"The class has literally changed my life in many ways. I knew I had stories to tell but I also knew I didn't have the tools to create a gripping narrative. Attending the Retreat, listening to Wendy's sage advice and following her practical guidance, has been a godsend. An unexpected bonus was how warm, intelligent and helpful the other members of the group were. I really didn't expect to have the privilege of feedback from such educated, experienced and wise classmates. In addition to learning how to write my best and in my best voice, I also acquired a new circle of friends. So, what can I say about having attended the Paris Writers Retreat? I guess 'Lucky me!' says it all."
~N. Lane, Paris, France

"Wendy is a fantastic instructor and this course is a great starting point for someone who is thinking about getting a book published, but just doesn't know where to start. Wendy was down-to-earth, accessible and honest - the class encouraged me to keep working on my writing, and helped me know what to expect from the literary industry."
~Marthe Druska

"Wendy Goldman Rohm's students get published! Three writers in my group alone got major publishing contracts after taking her course!"
~Bess Gallanis, author, Chicago

"If you have a great idea for a book and need a primer on how to shop the idea and develop a great book proposal, this is the class. Wendy offers great advice and walks you through the process of getting your nonfiction book idea published. She's very approachable and makes time to help you. I'd like to take a longer workshop with her as I develop my book proposal! I thought it was time and money well spent!"
~Mike Reilley

"Wendy ran the best workshop ever!  The classes are exceptional.  I have done the Iowa Workshops for non-fiction books, and although they are excellent, Wendy's are more helpful and inspirational, i.e., they translate into moving projects forward with a lot of creative intensity."
 ~Darcy Evon, author, Smithsonian scholar, Chicago Sun-Times columnist

The Junction

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Apply the Enneagram System to Your Story Structure with Jeff Lyons!

Can't pin down that ever-elusive story structure? Join us for Jeff Lyons's workshop on July 22nd, and find out how his phenomenal story development method can apply the Enneagram system to your structure!

Junction Function

How to Use the Enneagram-Story Bridge to Become a Master Storyteller
A Workshop with Storygeeks' Jeff Lyons
Sunday, July 22nd
Limited Seats Available
open to members & non-members
1001 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90401

At a Glance: 
  • Ninety minute introductory lecture on how to use the Enneagram system to discover and develop the right, true, and natural structure of any story.
  • Covers the fundamentals of the Enneagram system, its history, applications, and relevance for storytellers.
  • Discusses the fundamentals of story structure principles and how the Enneagram is fundamental to the creative writing process.
  • Introduces the Enneagram-Story Bridge™ and the essentials of Rapid Story Development™.
  • Appropriate for screenwriters, novelists, and creative nonfiction authors. 
Storytelling is not dependent on any form; a story can be painted, danced, written, staged, or mimed. But all stories are dependent upon having a structure. Every story has one. Every story must have one. This presentation describes a new and powerful story development methodology that can guide participants through the intricate process of developing any story idea into its right, true, and natural structure. The key to success lies in understanding the dynamic and intimate relationship between story structure principles and the Enneagram system.

The Enneagram is the most powerful system available today that describes the nine core personality drives underlying all human behavior. Each of the nine personality drives is rooted in thoughts, feelings, and actions that largely determine how we interact with the world, for good or ill. Everyone has an Enneagram -- including fictional characters and stories themselves! Story structure and the Enneagram are two must-have tools every writer needs in their writing toolbox. This introductory lecture reveals how any story's structure is related to, and determined by, the Enneagrams of the characters that populate any story. Every story knows how it should best be told. If you can cross the Enneagram-Story Bridge, this lecture can teach you how to listen to your story so that you can be a master at telling any story.

If you are ready to learn real tools that will lead to productive and profitable story development, then this lecture is for you. Sign up today!

About Jeff Lyons:
Jeff Lyons is an independent writer-producer with more than 25 years' experience in the entertainment and publishing industries. His company, Storygeeks, is a professional services company offering story consulting, training, and editorial services for authors, screenwriters, indie producers, and indie literary agencies.


"Jeff Lyons's mind-blowingly brilliant combo of the Enneagram and innovative story structure shakes things up and virtually reinvents the storytelling wheel. I'm hooked!"
~Caroline Leavitt: New York Times Bestselling Author of Pictures of You, Award-winning UCLA Novel Writing instructor, Book Critic

"Jeff's method for developing story is deceptively simple yet wildly effective. Following his steps at the beginning of my writing process has saved me hours of painful rewriting down the line. Highly recommended for screenwriters and novelists alike!"
~Teresa Huang: Staff Writer NBC's Knight Rider (2010)

"Jeff Lyons's unique insights on the Enneagram and its impact on story structure is at once comprehensible and enlightening. Since making use of it, my characters have sprung to authentic life. All writers should give this a try." 
~Masha Hamilton: Award-winning Author 31 Hours, The Camel Bookmobile; Journalist

"Unlike most writing gurus, Jeff Lyons is actually a real writer. He not only 'gets' story at its deepest level, he can guide even a novice writer through the steps necessary to create a polished, commercial screenplay or novel. Hire him!"
~Stephen David Brooks-Writer / Director Heads N TailZ

"Jeff Lyons has an impeccable grasp of story. Grounded in the fundamentals, with a deep understanding of what makes characters tick, Jeff is a superlative instructor, coach and mentor. Storygeeks is the best!"
~Julie Gray-Founder 'Just Effing Entertain Me'