Sunday, 25 December 2011

Twenty ways to get an instant agent rejection

1.      Send a three or more page query letter.
2.      Start your book with a flashback.
3.      Start with a prologue (Yes - some experienced authors getting away with it).
4.      Get someone to write the query letter on your behalf.
5.      Confuse some common words - of/off, to/too, there/their/they're, past/passed, allay/ally, cash/cache, accept/except, bate/bait, sight/cite/site.
6.      Make lots of spelling mistakes and typos.
7.      Handwrite your query.
8.      Use lots of redundant expressions like. 'dark black', 'fiction novel', 'loud shriek' (quiet shriek anyone?)
9.      Send your query as an email attachment.
10.  Beg an agent to accept your work.
11.  Mention how many times you’ve been rejected by agents.
12.  Tell the agent how much your grandmother/aunt loves your book.
13.  Start by moaning about the quality of other books being written.
14.  Submit work which isn't finished.
15.  Lie to an agent. E.g. "Enclosed is the work you requested...."
16.  Don't include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the reply.
17.  Use another author's well known character or plot.
18.  Include lots of profanity on the first pages.
19.  Submit work less than 40,000 words long.
20.  Submit a first novel of more than 120,000 words.

From my e-book "An illustrated guide to getting published" Get it free at (or buy it at Amazon). There's a new version being produced which includes publishing at Smashwords and other places.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Write and publish a book in a week?

You can download the second edition of this book for free at downloads.htm or get it at Amazon for 77p / $0.99
UK link | US link

A few months ago I set myself the task of writing and publishing a book in just one week. I completed it within seven days and made the book available at Amazon. Free at the time!  The print version is in full colour but has been withdrawn until edition 3 is available.

So what did I write about? Simple. I put together an illustrated guide to getting published both in print and in e-book format. It wasn't a huge work so I added notes on editing your book, getting an agent, cover creation and promoting the finished work.

Now I'm getting quite familiar with this process, after all I have produced ten books in the 'A Vested Interest' series. I did make some new discoveries along the way though which naturally - I included in the book.

The major difference I found was, because this is a non-fiction book, that I had to include lots of screenshot graphics. Getting them right to display on the 600 x 800, 16 shades of grey screen of a Kindle took quite a bit of work because I also wanted them to display in colour on Android readers. The result was a compromise.

Here's the new things I found out:

  • It's quite easy to put links to a different area of a book.
  • Click a hyper-link in an e-book on the Kindle and it will open that page in the Kindle browser.
  • You can't really do a satisfactory drop capital on a basic Kindle although it's a lot easier now that 'styles' are recognised.
  • You can't left or right align a graphic other than on the current line.
  • MS Word has an absolute limit of 220dpi (dots per inch). Book publishers recommend 300 dpi. You can tell MS Word not to compress graphics but if you output the file as pdf it forgets what you told it.
  • You can print from Word to a pdf file where graphics are NOT compressed. 
  • If you put a screen capture from OneNote into Word it gets saved as 199dpi. The answer is to replace these with hi-resolution graphics later.
  • If you save a bulleted list from Word as a 'Web page, Filtered' file Word will not use the correct HTML but will use a bullet character (Alt 0149) and spacing. This looks stupid on a Kindle. I find the answer is to use the 'calibre' ebook management program to create an epub file and submit that to Amazon.
  • The Create Space Cover Designer looks very basic at first but is surprisingly versatile.
  • Mobi (Kindle) files are almost twice the size of epub (Sony/Nook) files.
  • Calibre makes the job of creating a multi-level contents page very easy.
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