Working With the Industry: Meet Jr. Agent Hope Bolinger

Hello, friends! In the writing world, it’s good to know about the industry and the people who work there. Today, I interview Hope Bolinger, Jr. Agent at Hartline Literary Agency. You’ll enjoy hearing what she has to say in response to our thought-provoking questions–Jennifer

Writer journaling in a book

Hi, Hope! Please tell our readers, what is an agent’s purpose?

Hope: Essentially, being an agent boils down to two things: coach and cheerleader. We want to steer our clients in the best direction in the publishing industry. We pinpoint snags in contracts and try to help them attain the best deals possible for their books. We also want to be the author’s biggest advocate when approaching publishers. We don’t take on clients unless we love their work because we have to sell it again with equal or more vigor to the industry professionals who can help make their dreams become a reality.

How hard is it to be an agent in today’s publishing industry?

Hope: It’s difficult in the aspect that publishers are inundated with hundreds, thousands of manuscripts. Even as an agent, you have a lot of competition with other agents who are trying to help authors break into the industry. I will say it becomes easier the more you connect with editors at writing conferences and in one-on-one meetings. In the traditional publishing world, especially with the biggest houses, an agent is almost a  necessity.

What three things can a new author do to catch the attention of an agent?

Hope: Great question. I would boil it down to this:

(1) Meet the agent in person if possible. I remember the authors most who pitched to me at writer’s conferences or talked with me after a session. Follow-up emails from conferences are extremely helpful as well.

(2) Make that first page shine. I can usually tell by the first chapter whether or not the client would be a good fit. If the third chapter has good writing, but the first chapter or prologue (please don’t send us your prologues) is an information dump, we’re less inclined to want to take you on.

(3) Build platform before sending your books to us or to a publisher. Especially in nonfiction. It breaks my heart when I have a client with an excellent book, but the publisher turns it down because the author doesn’t have a large enough platform.

What three things can a new author do that will discourage an agent?

Hope: This will be harder to funnel into three main points, but I would say the number one problem I have is an author who comes off as a stalker. As agents, we look for authors who can strike a balance between professional and personal, but the latter half often seeps through more than the former. For instance, we’ve gotten love letters from queries before (even to some of our agents who are married.) 

Second, an author who swings to one of two extremes on platform. We have those who say, “I have no social media whatsoever.” And then we have authors who think they’re hot stuff. Show us all the platform you’ve accumulated, but don’t come off as arrogant or as if agents are doing you a favor. We want this to be a partnership that can last for several years, or even a lifetime.

Third, sending several emails to the agent at once. It’s best to send all the submission materials (Please don’t send all twelve of your books to us at once!) in one email. You can follow-up after 6-8 weeks, or whatever the certain agent has listed on his or her website. But agents receive literally hundreds of emails a day. If twelve of them are from you, they will be less inclined to take you on.

 5. Are you open for submissions? What are you looking for?

Hope: I am personally open for submissions (some of the agents at C.Y.L.E. are closed right now). I do a mix of fiction and nonfiction, but my sweet spots are YA (Young Adult), MG (Middle Grade),  Historical (especially anything ancient), Thriller, and Humor. I’m especially looking to sell in the ABA markets (American Bookseller Association.) Please no memoir (unless you have a significant platform), horror, self-published books, poetry, stage plays, or erotica. If you have a submission you think would be a good fit, send a query to hope@cyleyoung.co

Thanks so much, Hope for all the great advice. And readers, make sure you keep a watch for Hope’s novel, Den, to be released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, June 3, 2019

Check here for details about the progress of her book: http://www.illuminateya.com/books/comingsoon/den/

Click to tweet: What three things can a new author do to catch the attention of an agent? Hartline Literary Agency Jr. Agent, Hope Bolinger, answers this question and many more. #WritersLife #amwriting


Den

Danny was told sophomore year was supposed to be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To add to his sophomore woes, he—and his three best friends—receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the prestigious boarding school. Danny says no. His overbearing mother says yes. So off he goes.

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters horrible hazing initiations, girls who like to pick other people’s scabs, and cafeteria food that could turn the strongest stomachs sour. As he attempts to survive, he will have to face his fears or fall prey to the King’s Academy lions.


ABOUT HOPE BOLINGER

Literary Agent. Published Novelist.

Hope wants to help authors understand the publishing industry.

Since she started writing novels at 16, she’s been trying to crack the tricky code of how to catch an editor’s eye. She’s learned a lot along the way and wants to help authors find an in in this crazy industry.

Hope Bolinger is a professional writing major at Taylor University. She has served in various roles at IlluminateYA Fiction, Hartline Literary Agency, N 2 Publishing, and The Echo. Over 200 of her works (plays, poems, articles) have appeared in various publications. Her most recent success is having her YA novel Den contracted by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, scheduled to release June 3, 2019.

Resources for Indie Publishing

This month’s topic of Indie Publishing is great! I have really enjoyed learning more. I don’t know about you, but I love to think outside the box to find different ways to learn about the writing craft.

YouTube is my go-to lately. I sit at a desk when I’m at work and do repetitious data processing while answering a switchboard that is less busy during the night hours. During those hours I use one ear bud in my I-Phone to listen to videos on a variety of topics.

I didn’t realize until just a few months ago that there are a great many videos on the craft of writing. Some of the authors I have listened to do not write the same genre as I do, but basic story structure, outlining, marketing tips, and encouragement are basically the same for all genres. Who doesn’t need another author who has been there giving great advice on getting out of a slump during the process of getting your book done?

There are videos that are specific to a certain genre, but I tend to like to glean from all types of teaching. There is something called “Skill Share” you can access through YouTube. These videos are made by folks who want to “share” their expertise or lessons they have learned on a virtual plethora of topics. Of course, I have only sampled the topics that have to do with writing, marketing, or using social media as a marketing tool. One of the young ladies I like to follow and listen to is Vivien Reis. She posts very regularly in her own YouTube channel, and contributes to Skill Share.

There is even a video that gives you step by step instructions on how to self-publish your book for free or very minimal out of pocket cost. I will link this video below.

Another source for Indie Publishing is Google. There are many websites available to the techie smart novelist who is cautious in their quest for tools to self-publish. I found a website with called “48 Publishing Resources You Should Know About” by Diana Urban. She includes a great many topics that I didn’t even think about before writing this blog.

Pinterest is another resource for gleaning information on writing topics. I have my own board for saving pins I find of interest, related to the writing process. It can also be a good marketing tool for your book once it is in print. I also have boards used for saving pictures I like that relate to my current work in progress, like hero and heroine templates, places they might live, other characters in the story, and fashions of the historical period in which I am writing.

Last, but certainly not least: Good old fashion networking with other authors. Sometimes the writer sitting next to you has just the answers you need. Join a writing organization like the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), who can walk you through the in’s and out’s of publishing, and help you find like-minded individuals who can give you a helping hand while you craft your story. Many local chapters get together on a regular basis for continuing education, support, and friendship.

https://youtu.be/ZkoltFuljlE to learn about how to self-publish your book step by step. By Gillian Perkins

https://youtu.be/Isobf02R3fk to learn about Skill Share with my favorite writing channel. By Vivian Reis.

https://insights.bookbub.com/publishing-resources/ “48 Publishing Resources You Should Know About” by Diana Urban.
https://pin.it/yt2jg6wtnexxv3 This is a link to my Pinterest board for my book, “Patriot Hearts.”

CLICK TO TWEET: Need another author who has been there, giving great advice on getting out of a slump during the process of getting your book done? Resources for Indie Publishing from @trail_j via @InspiredPrompt #writinglife #IndiePublish

 

A Lot Can Happen in 10 Years!

by Harriet E. Michael

When I thought about this topic, so many things came to my mind. So much has happened in the last 10 years, nationally, internationally, with friends, with my family, and with me. It was hard to decide what to write about. I chose the single biggest change in my personal life that has occurred in the last 10 years.

10 years ago, I was not a published writer!

typewriter

Writing is a new work God is doing in my old age. It’s a huge blessing to me and I can only hope it blesses others too. I thank Him daily for opening these doors, even though as is often the case, it was born out of adversity—from a difficult and even dark time in my life that started in the summer of 2003.

By 2009, I had an unpublished manuscript written on the topic of prayer. This is what later became my book, “Prayer: It’s Not About You” which started out four years earlier as a journaling exercise as I sought to learn more about prayer. Interested in writing, I attended the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference, hoping to learn how to get a manuscript published. I came home thinking that goal was not achievable, unless I self-published but I had learned three things: 1) I knew very little about the publishing world, even after the conference, 2) I have editing issues. 3) I didn’t have a platform.

I now know that a writer can pay an editor, and hire out other parts of the publishing process and turn out a good independently-published book. But at the time, getting a book out seemed impossible.

itsawriterthing.tumbler

Writing still intrigued me. Actually, it did more than that; it pulled like a magnet. I had words I wanted to share and had spent the previous four years honing my ability to put them down on paper. (Learning to write on a computer came later. My 60,000+ word manuscript and my first few articles and devotions were all hand-written and transcribed onto a computer.)

The wheels started turning in my head. If I could start getting small pieces published, then I would be scratching that writing itch while building an income and a platform. So, I sat at my kitchen table one day, shortly after returning from the writer’s conference, sharing my thoughts with my daughter. I sheepishly told her about the great workshop on how to freelance small pieces and confessed my desire to try my hand at it. But who did I think I was fooling? I was not a writer.

My daughter looked up from her orange juice and said profound words that jump-started my writing career. She said, “You know mom, the average American reader only reads at a sixth-grade level.”

I burst out laughing and replied, “I can write at that level!”

And I sat down immediately and began transcribing a devotion I had handwritten in my journal onto my computer to send to The Upper Room. That devotion, titled, “The Day of Small Things” based on the question posed in Zechariah 4:10, “For who has despised the day of small things?” became the first piece I ever submitted. It was not the first piece I ever had published, because it takes a very long time from submission to publication with some devotional magazines. It was published a year and a half later in the February 2011.

Today I have somewhere around 200 small pieces published in magazines, devotionals, anthologies (more if you count each individual devotion separately). The places I have been published as a freelance writer include: Chicken Soup for the Soul, several Lifeway magazines and their devotional, Open Windows, several David C. Cook and Standard Publishing magazines, The War Cry, Upper Room, The Secret Place (just to name a few).

Now I also have three books published, both independently and traditionally, two more under contract to be released this winter and next summer, and others at different stages of publication.

And, to think that 10 years ago, I was not a writer. Today, I cannot imagine not writing! I think I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

freedom

(Click to Tweet) I think I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. #amwriting #freelance

Writing Prompt: Ben highlighted, then deleted every word of the story he’d spent two hours creating. Now what?

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Indie Publishing: Here to Stay

By Jennifer Hallmark

Wow. We’ve had so many good posts this month concerning Indie publishing that I dislike seeing it come to an end.  In case you missed any, here’s a quick review…

Betty Thomason Owens started our month on July 3rd by discussing her own road to Indie publication with her fantasy novels: A Month of Indie Publishing.

On July 7th and July 11th, Susan Neal shared not only how she Indie published her book but how she took it to a number one Amazon ranking: Make Your Dream Come True and Self Publish Your Book, and How to Obtain an Amazon Best-Selling Ranking.

July 10th rolled around and Gail Johnson pointed us to some good ideas while Trekking the Indie Route.

On July 14th, Tammy trail asked an important question, “Is There Room for Indie Publishing?

Harriet Michael “Declared Her Independence” on July 17th with her Indie publishing journey.

On July 21st, I interviewed Hallee Bridgeman, an “Indie Author Extraordinaire”, who shared how she sold over half a million books.

Sherrie Giddens wrote a guest post titled “Take the Steps to Self-Publish Your Books” on July 24th of how she Indie published her books.

And Betty Boyd ended our month with an interview with blogger, author, and life coach Nancy Colasurdo and her Indie published memoir.

As you read each of these articles, I believe you’ll understand why Indie publishing is here to stay. The reasons behind the decision may vary but each person seemed happy with the results.

Next month, we’re taking a totally different road and discussing favorite books of the Bible. Don’t miss it!

Click to tweet: Indie publishing is here to stay. #IndiePub #amwriting

Writing Prompt: Bob stood facing Lil, hands on his hips. “Why would anyone want to read your memoir? And who’ll publish it?”

Lil snorted. “Haven’t you ever heard the word Indie?”

 

 

Take the Steps to Self-publish Your Book

By Sherrie Giddens

Over the last several years, many of the walls between authors and self-publishing have come down. As a result, it is easier than ever for a determined writer to become a published author. However, knowing exactly how to go about the process of self-publishing can be an overwhelming task. I can remember the first book that I self-published. I followed the path paved by those who went before me and took some of the stress out of the process. I would like to share that path with you today.

Once you have written your manuscript, the real work begins. It is time to go back over your work and edit, edit, and edit again. Once you have completed your editing, it is important to turn the manuscript over to someone who can do a more thorough job of editing. They will look for spelling and grammar issues, sentences that do not flow easily, and holes in the plot and story line. This is an important step and should not be skipped, if you intend on having a professional piece of work to publish.

After your manuscript has been edited, you’ll need to consider where you want your work to appear. Many choose to publish their eBooks through Amazon on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Doing so will require preparing your document. You can find information on document preparation, by following this link to the information page. There are no fees associated with uploading your document to KDP and the process is not a difficult one, when you follow the guidelines provided.

You might also consider the publication of your document as a paperback. Amazon owns Createspace, a company that many self-publishers use to create their paperbacks. If you choose to use Createspace as your self-publishing solution you will be given a few options.

  • They will provide you with a free ISBN or you can purchase one through them.
  • If you are having difficulty with your document, you can pay for their services, which include editing and formatting.
  • You will need to download a template for your manuscript. Templates are designed to work with the various book size options. They are easy to use and make the process less time consuming
  • Createspace also offers a free cover creator.
  • Unless you choose to use their services such as editing, there are no fees for creating a paperback through Createspace.
  • You will be given the option of ordering a proof copy of your book. There is a small fee for this service, typically less than $10. I highly recommend ordering a proof copy. Once it arrives, check it over, you will be able to make any changes needed before you publish your book.

It is important for your eBook and paperback to share the same cover image. Whether you choose to have someone create your paperback book cover, or you use the free cover creator offered by Createspace, once your book is ready, Createspace will provide a cover that can be used for your eBook as well. Download the provided eBook cover and save it to your computer. Then you may upload it to the KDP edition of the book. This will provide a uniform look for both the eBook and the paperback. Here are some of my covers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with every program, there can be some glitches. Createspace is no exception. You will be given the option of allowing them to upload your eBook to KDP. This option can lead to issues with extra numbers and letters showing up throughout your document. I would recommend taking the time to upload the document yourself. Doing so will also give you more control over the process.

Once the eBook and the paperback have been completed and uploaded, they will automatically be listed for sale at Amazon. Amazon tries to link both editions within a week or so, but it doesn’t always happen in the way that it should. By creating your author page, through Author Central, you will be able to initiate this process on your own.

I know this information can seem a little overwhelming. I thought so until I took the plunge and began preparing my document. Step by step, while following the guidelines, the feeling of being overwhelmed was replaced with a feeling of relief and accomplishment. Take a deep breath and dive in.

There is much more to discuss when it comes to self-publishing, but with the basics that have been offered in this article, you are well on your way to living your dream. My wish is that you find self-publishing to be a fulfilling part of your writing career.


Sherrie Giddens is the author of several titles for women and their families. Her latest book is designed to help lesser known authors fill their schedules with book signings and events.

You can find Book Signings and Events for the Lesser Known Author at Amazon.