Friday, November 29, 2013

opportunities: non-fiction, gift books, humor, calendars

Andrews McMeel Publishing is open to submissions. They publish non-fiction, gift books, humor, and calendars. For more info:


Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


Thursday, November 28, 2013

5 things not to do when writing a book

Good article here by Brian Klems. If clicking the link doesn’t work, copy it and paste it into your browser.




Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


Saturday, November 23, 2013

queries & elevator pitches: Molli Nickell`s advice



One sure fire way to perfect your query letter is to practice speaking it. You'll be amazed at how quickly you'll be able to synthesize the focus of your book as you figure out a way to "tell" it. 

Then, when you attend a writers' conference, you'll be prepared to pitch your story idea to every agent you meet. The concept of "elevator pitches" has been around the writing community for years. The purpose of learning to do this is to help you break the ice when accidentally (or on purpose) meeting an agent while on the elevator or standing in line at a buffet table.

(An added benefit is that your spoken pitch can be translated into the opening paragraph--sales pitch--of your query letter.)

Here's a possible scenario:

You're waiting in line at the buffet, directly behind an agent you want to meet. You begin your pitch.  


"Lovely spread isn't it? Reminds me the story I've just completed where potato salad becomes the prime suspect in a murder case."  


Now, you have their attention. You're both looking at potato salad which is one of the items on the buffet.   


"I have a story about four baby-boomer women who are reunited at their 40- year college reunion. Three are trapped in abusive marriages. Over lunch and pitchers of Sangria, the fourth member, a happy widow, shares her recipe for a special mix of potato salad that helped her child-molesting spouse meet his maker. Potato salad becomes the "widow maker" as the women bump off their husbands, one by one. And they almost get away with it." 


This breaks the ice and opens the door for further conversation about your story and gives you the opportunity to ask, "May I send it to you?" The agent will respond accordingly, and "voila," you have a personal contact with someone interested in reading your work.

When you submit your material, use the same dialogue in your query letter first  paragraph. And be sure to identify yourself and state where you met (at the buffet at the Southwest Writers' Conference . . . or wherever). This gives you the advantage of being someone the agent knows. Your work flies to the top of their "read this" list.

Here's a thought: CLICK ON OVER to my "winning query" page, then practice speaking some of the opening paragraphs. You'll be amazed at how quickly you'll become more at ease with making a verbal pitch. 


How about a virtual workshop or consultation to help you become pitch perfect? 

Thanks to Skype internet/visual technology, I can help you learn to pitch. Location doesn't matter. What do you need the most? Pitching? Writing the query or synopsis? First page? Manuscript structure? Writing Mechanics? To discuss possibilities of how I can assist you and/or your group in expanding writing and/or marketing skills, CONTACT ME 


Help is at hand~

If you want my assistance with any aspect of your writing project, let me know. The Book Doctor is available 24/7 to help with big issues or little ones: whatever you need to complete, evaluate, or polish your manuscript or beef up your marketing materials (query, synopsis, first page). 


Give yourself an early holiday gift! Take advantage of a budget-friendly $29 fee for a 30-minute phone consultation. I'll help you identify what you need and how to best achieve your writing goals. CLICK HERE to contact me.


Write on!  








Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


Thursday, November 21, 2013

publisher opportunities: BlazeVOX & Filbert

BlazeVOX [books] focuses on contemporary poetry, innovative fiction, select nonfiction, and literary criticism. They have a year-round open submission period.

Filbert Publishing specializes in how-to and self-help nonfiction, but they also consider exceptional fiction and other varieties of nonfiction. Potential authors should send an e-mail with a query, synopsis, and manuscript information.

If interested, you should be able to find them on the Internet.




Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


Friday, November 15, 2013

stories about kids' books being made

Interesting article here: 20 children’s book editors share stories about how some memorable books were made. Clicking the link probably won’t work but if interested you could copy it and paste it into your browser:


Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

mom memoir opportunity: Good Housekeeping and Shebooks

Do you have a memoir about your mom, your life as a mom, or a mom you've known tucked in a drawer? Time to pull it out: Good Housekeeping and Shebooks, a new e-book publisher of great stories by and for women, are sponsoring a non-fiction writing contest. Winner receives $2,000 and possible publication in Good Housekeeping and Shebooks. Entry fee $15. Contest runs from October 15 - December 15, 2013. For more info, see



Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

travel writing: Erin Byrne

Good stuff here on being a travel writer:



Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


using Word to format a novel; Yael Politis

Good clear info here on using Word to format your novel for publication:


Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


turning a book into a screenplay: Robert Bacon

Interesting advice here about books & screenplays from editor/author Robert Bacon of The Perfect Write. Also see his offers of free sample editing at the end of this post.


Turning a Book Into a Screenplay--The Truth About Options


With a certain degree of frequency, I'll be approached by a client about having his or her work turned into a screenplay, as there is confidence from some quarter, if not directly from the author, that it will make a great movie, TV show, miniseries, etc.  And I've been asked, since I've worked with this client's material, if I'd be willing to write the screenplay.  Invariably, it also comes up if I'd consider becoming a "partner" and write the screenplay without payment but with the prospect of a split of the profits when the work is purchased.  This is when I split, and what follows explains why.


Screenwriting Is an Art Form All Its Own


Above all else, I do not take any work on consignment related to a project's being signed by any medium.  If I did this, I would have a library full of unpublished manuscripts sitting next to my cardboard house abutting a Dumpster.


Ignoring the necessity of shelter and food, the next reason is because I have never felt qualified to write a screenplay, as it is a separate discipline from crafting a novel.  Screenplays have their own set of requirements related to layout and structure, and I'm not versed in any of them.


But of greatest importance, spending the funds to turn a manuscript into a screenplay in my opinion is a colossal waste of money.


It's Important to Understand the Process


Once a producer likes a storyline, the normal modus operandi is for that studio executive to commission a respected screenwriter to design the screenplay.  Any screenplay submitted by a layman would be revised substantially, and it would be just as easy to work from the manuscript.  For example, an experienced screenwriter's knowledge of what can or can't be converted to film based on budget is no minor detail and something the average individual would not know much if anything about.


How an Option Plays Into This


An option to purchase a work is not a contract for the material but essentially buys time for the studio to consider the project.  This sort of "wait and see" agreement generally ranges from 12 to 18 months, and an unknown writer can earn on average from $500 to $5,000 for granting this right, which is aptly referred to as "the option payment."  The lower range is more common, and any previously unpublished writer getting $5,000 should run around the town square naked at noon.


The Purchase Option


If the option is executed, this means the writer would be entitled to "the purchase price" established by the original options agreement, and is why an experienced agent or lawyer (or both) is mandatory.  Fees for the exercising of the option are often tied to a project's budget, and as it increases so does the writer's stipend.  But this is all over the place, ranging from the low five figures to breaking seven.


One Definite Author Advantage Provided by Options


The nice thing about a properly structured option agreement, if the work is not "greenlighted," is that the rights are returned to the author and the writer is allowed to keep the original option fee.  And at this point the work can be shopped around without any fear of legal repercussions.


Author Realities


How many times have you heard of a writer's work being re-optioned?  And how often have you learned of a writer, whom you know, whose material has been turned into a movie, TV series, or miniseries?  I have one associate during the past 20 years who had a short run with a cable TV show, and I know a lot of people who write.


To put this in perspective, some insiders say having an option exercised is 10,000 times more difficult than getting a book published by a Big 6 imprint, and how hard is that in today's sardine-crowded market?  This, as much as anything, is why I never wanted to learn to write screenplays. 


I won't accept work to edit unless I believe in my heart of hearts the story has a shot at finding an audience in some milieu.  And even at 1,000 to 1, I'm okay with this, as my clients at least have a chance at success at some level. 


The Cold, Hard Facts


But when the odds become 10,000,000 to 1, I have to bow out, as I can't take a person's money when the possibility of success is right up there with getting bitten by a mountain lion in Manhattan, killed by lightning in Death Valley, or hitting 10 of 10 numbers on a keno card.  This last example is around 9,000,000 to 1, but who's counting at this point, right?  And it's what I'm really getting at in all of this. 



Robert L. (Rob) Bacon, Founder

The Perfect Write®


Please contact me with any questions or comments, and let me
know if there is anything in the field of professional writing you
would like addressed in a future Newsletter.

For authors, The Perfect Write® is now providing

FREE 3-PAGE LINE-EDIT (if applicable).  Paste your material
(up to 5,000 words) to (no attachments).

For Authors, The Perfect Write® is continuing to offer

Paste your query to (no attachments).
and visit the Sample Letters Page for examples of successful queries.

The Perfect Write® offers comprehensive editing services, from
manuscript critiques to complete revisions, including line-editing,
along with query design and composition.  For pricing, send your
project requirements to



Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

opportunities for queries & submission

The following literary agents are currently open to queries: Monica Odom of Liza Dawson Associates, Beth Phelan of Bent Literary, Maria Vincente of P.S. Literary, Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary Media. Ripple Grove Press is interested in picture-driven stories for ages 2-6. No religious or holiday-themed stories. If interested in any of these, you should be able to find more info by searching on their names.


Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,


real people & events: how much to reveal in a book

It’s tricky for book authors to know how much information they can reveal about real people and events without stepping over privacy boundaries and getting into trouble. As the following case suggests, it's probably best to consider possible results and err on the side of caution.

The Associated Press | Nov 05, 2013

A judge in Puerto Rico has ordered a private detective to pay $575,000 in damages to a family after publishing a book about a high-profile killing of an 8-year-old boy. The ruling accused Milton Rodriguez Rivera of violating the privacy clause of an $8,500 deal he had made with Ana Cacho and her family to investigate the March 2010 killing of Cacho's son. The book contained excerpts of interviews that Rodriguez had with Cacho, her relatives, police officials and others. Cacho said in court documents that people thought she was involved in the killing as a result of the book.


Elma Schemenauer, author of 75 books published in Canada and the USA, editor of many more,,,