Tag Archives: Industry Insiders

4 Reasons to Go to a Writer Conference by Noelle Pierce

Posted by October 17th, 2014

Noelle PierceIf you’re a writer and you’re trying to decide whether to go to a regional or national conference, then my advice is to go. Granted, my experiences are limited to conferences related to the romance genre, but I think some things are going to translate no matter what genre is represented. Whether it’s a national or regional conference, there are going to be pros and cons—and I feel in most cases, the pros will outweigh the other.

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What conferences can give you:

1.  Networking with other writers at various stages in their careers. A conference is one of the best places to meet a critique partner or mentor. It’s also a place to be with like-minded individuals. I cherish those few days a year where I can walk up to virtually anyone and have something in common with him/her. Continue reading

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Self-Publishing Was Right For Me by Ani Bolton

Posted by September 8th, 2014

In 2005, I wrote a weird book. A really weird book that no one knew what to do with, including me.

My pigeonhole at the time was Historical Romance. I’d gotten a good agent, and she was shopping my novel. I was working on a follow up, but I didn’t want to write a story about dukes or balls. I wanted to write a novel about war and magic. So that’s what I did.

Steel and SongThe novel that became STEEL AND SONG: Book 1 in the Aileron Chronicles flowed right out of me. My then-agent was baffled by it. It wasn’t a paranormal romance. It wasn’t epic fantasy. It was somewhere to the left of what was considered marketable: a dieselpunk romance with magic and war. A heroine who was mouthy and a hero who was a coward. In other words, never going to sell.

So I left the draft on a flashdrive (how quaint!) thinking that was that. I started working for book packagers, ghost writing several YA novels. My day job became very intense. Writing novels was taking a back seat, and honestly, the stuff I was writing wasn’t singing to me anymore. Even though I was the co-founder of a highly regarded writing community, my love for the industry and for writing had taken a beating. I needed to check out for a while. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Andrea Dunlop

Posted by August 8th, 2014

Andrea Dunlop on Book CountrySo excited to have my friend and fellow Book Country member Andrea Dunlop back on the blog this morning! I just read Andrea’s book, THE SOJOURN, and I was blown away by how good it was. Just as I was finishing the book, Andrea wrote to tell me that she’s signed with literary agent Carly Watters. If you haven’t yet checked out the excerpt of THE SOJOURN that is available to read on Book Country, I highly recommend that you do so ASAP!

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Lucy Silag: Tell us what compelled you to write THE SOJOURN.

Andrea Dunlop: It was inspired by the time I spent in France as a student. Traveling abroad for the first time is an incredibly heady experience, it has a way of blowing open your perspective on life.

LS: How long have you been working on it? What is your writing and revising process like?

AD: I’ve actually been working on the novel off and on for twelve years now, if you can believe it. There have been many, many versions of the story but it always came back to the friendship between [main characters] Brooke and Sophie. I’ve gotten lots of feedback from different sources over the years that have helped me shape the book: fellow writers, agents, professors, I ended up hiring a developmental editor and I can’t overstate the difference that made. After you’ve been working on something for a certain amount of time, you lose perspective on it. It really helped me to just let go and be willing to do whatever it took to make the story better. Continue reading

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Submit Questions for our Ask an Editor Series!

Posted by July 28th, 2014


Book Country Ask an EditorThank you to all those who submitted questions for our Ask an Agent blog series! Your questions touched on a lot of topics including how to query agents and how agents actually go about choosing manuscripts. Thanks to the literary agents who helped make Ask an Agent possible! You can find links to their blog posts below.

This August, we are launching our Ask an Editor blog series! As you know, editors decide which manuscripts they would like to publish. Editors are involved in virtually every step of the publishing process, from the actual editing to marketing and promotion. Continue reading

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Finding an Agent: What No One Wants to Talk About by Arna Bontemps Hemenway

Posted by July 11th, 2014

As a writer and professor of Creative Writing, what I get asked about most is finding an agent. I struggle to answer for a couple of reasons: namely, that there are only two things of worth I have to say on the matter of finding an agent, and because both of them are pretty awkward to say out loud.

Arna Hemenway 2

Arna Bontemps Hemenway poses with his book ELEGY ON KINDERKLAVIER, which comes out from Sarabande Books on Tuesday, July 15th.

Before I get to those two pieces of wisdom, let me start by reiterating what you’ve probably already heard about finding an agent: You should take the time and effort to make your query effective and professional. You shouldn’t sign with an agent you’re afraid of (as the novelist Ethan Canin once memorably put it to me, “you shouldn’t need an agent to call your agent”) or one you can’t talk to or one who seems like they won’t answer your calls if you’re not successful. You want somebody who’s smart and effective enough to make good business decisions for you, but also somebody who seems like a basically good person. Pay attention to your gut. Be ready to get rejected over and over and over and over and over again.

Now we’ve got that good advice out of the way, here’s the first thing no one particularly wants to say or hear about finding an agent: agents are not important. Let me repeat that: the literary agent is not important. No offense. Continue reading

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How to Sign Up For the Book Country Newsletter

Posted by July 2nd, 2014

You don’t want to miss out on the Book Country newsletter. Every month we have exclusive giveaways and insider tips just for our newsletter subscribers.

Newsletter Sample for blog

Not on the list yet? Here’s how to sign up for the Book Country Newsletter: Continue reading

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Why I Love My Book Cover by Elizabeth Andrews

Posted by June 18th, 2014

HuntingMedusa cover.jpgThis is going to sound just terrible, but as a reader, I rarely shop for books by the cover art.  When I go shopping for books, I almost always have a list of books I’ve culled from favorite authors’ websites, or recommendations from readers I trust. I can appreciate all of the lovely covers on the shelves in the store–though I will profess a bit of a bias against all the copy-cat covers on erotic romances these days–fruit and flowers?  Those do not scream “hot romance” to me.  Give me a hot, shirtless hero on the cover, whether he’s alone or with his heroine. I am, after all, a romance fanatic.

That is one big reason why the cover for my book HUNTING MEDUSA makes me so happy when I look at it. (And, okay, I might have petted it a few thousand times.) But it isn’t just the mostly-naked hunk looking all broody and dangerous. No, the talented artist who worked on my cover art managed to work a bit of the setting into the background, and there’s the heroine, defiant and still vulnerable. Plus there’s a nifty little symbol tucked into the corner that will continue throughout the trilogy, and that makes me smile. The first time I saw it absolutely thrilled me, seeing all those little touches put together after all the work I’d put into the book. Plus, seeing the cover art made the book feel even more real than everything leading up to that point. Continue reading

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Which Type of Writing Guide Is Right for You, Right Now?

Posted by June 10th, 2014

Which type of writing guide is right for you right now

Many writers begin a story on a whim, and before long they’re taking an imaginary joy ride. Writing a novel is fun: the words flow . . . and then they don’t. Like Consumer Reports testing a car for safety, your writermobile slams into a wall. Now what?

Writing guides abound to address everything that stymies us. Search among the six types of resources to find a match for your problem or need.

Inspiration and Contemplation

These books prime the pump of imagination, help you generate ideas, and nudge you out of an unproductive rut. One of the best guides is The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Her 12-week study that addresses and overcomes all manner of “blocks” can open the floodgates of productivity and confidence. Cameron’s “morning pages” and “artist’s dates” have sustained millions of writers.

The Writer’s Life and Writing

We all want to know what famous writers think, how they write, and how they “made it.” The King, Stephen King, in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, tells vivid stories about his life including drug addiction, alcoholism, and being hit by a car. He kept writing novels through nearly all of the difficulties, often mining them for his stories. King’s book includes reading lists, excellent craft advice, examples to model, and writing assignments.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott, is seductive. Her honesty in laying bare her messy life, with humor, beckons the reader to do the same. By example and by the techniques she shares, Lamott urges readers to expect and move past “the shitty first draft.”

How to Write a Novel

Almost all novels have similar whole-book structure. If you’ve written your story “organically,” you may be out on a limb and need to return to the trunk. Three books will straighten you out. How to Write a Story: The Secrets of Writing a Captivating Tale, was written by Peter Rubie, agent and former book doctor for New York publishers, and Gary Provost, a master teacher and author of over 20 novels. This how-to-write book is straight-forward, clear, practical, specific, and almost foolproof for any writer who follows its directions. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Mystery Writer DJ Lutz

Posted by June 6th, 2014

DJ LutzToday we’re getting to know Book Country member DJ Lutz. His WIP on Book Country is a fun, fast-paced Cozy Mystery called THE APPLE PIE ALIBI.

Lucy Silag: How did you get started writing in the Cozy Mystery genre?

DJ Lutz: I started writing about six years ago, experimenting with different forms, genres and voices. Since mysteries had always been a favorite of mine to read, writing them came easier to me than other genres. I eventually drifted toward cozy mysteries because the style seemed to mirror my own life: somewhat fun with a twist of dry humor, not too much violence at all, and full of quirky characters. My life to a T, without the requisite dead body.

LS: Who are your favorite Cozy Mystery authors? What have you learned from reading their work?

DL: In general, I have always loved the intellectual process used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and I certainly enjoy the whimsical inventiveness of Agatha Christie. I suppose my slant toward the culinary mystery could be due to my quest of reading the entire Rex Stout collection. But of those, I suppose only Agatha would count as a true cozy writer. They all help, though, in that they have shown me it is possible to write a challenging mystery in such a way the reader doesn’t think about the format. They succeed in creating a world of characters that force us to keep turning the page! Recently, I have also started reading Diane Mott Davidson. She is an awesome scribe and very prolific in the culinary mystery sub-genre. I enjoy her books and have discovered it is possible, and sometimes best to break the rules! Continue reading

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What Writers Can Learn From BEA14

Posted by May 29th, 2014

BEA 14 collage

BEA14 is kicking off in earnest today in New York City, and, as always, it is quite an adventure for those of us who go to the show.

Book Expo America (BEA) is the preeminent publishing trade show and conference in the US. Booksellers, educators, publishers, authors, and librarians come from all over the world to take the pulse of the publishing business each may. The gathering is held at the Javits Center in NYC, with exhibits on new innovations in digital publishing technologies, panel discussions on readers’ buying habits, dozens of author signings, and much, much more. This year there is also a consumer day for kid and adult readers on Saturday, May 31, called The Book Con. Continue reading

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