Showing posts from April, 2010

how not to write a non-fiction book proposal

It's been a while since INTERN's written a post about matters non-fictive. But after coming across a few less-than-accurate guides to book proposal writing on the internet, she thought she should set the record straight. Here's the last word on the subject:


This is the part where you lift copy directly from the Vitamix salesman's spiel at Costco, but substitute the title of your book for "Vitamix". Don't ever tell what your book is about in this section—that comes later. Your goal here is to get the agent pumped.

Comp Titles

This is the part of the proposal where you get to diss other books on the same subject as your book (and books not on your subject that you just felt like hatin' on). You want to prove to the agent that every other book in circulation is a cockroach-infested pile of beaver dung, hence the need for your book to fill the gap. Personal attacks on other authors also go in this section. Don't be shy!


OK, here…

do unpublished manuscripts need book trailers?

Over the past month or so, INTERN has been shocked by the amount of work she's found herself doing to prepare for her book's** release. Between printing rather superfluous flyers, making a book trailer, and setting up a ridiculous website, the time she spent writing the actual book has become a faint, innocent, candy-coated memory.

But it all pales in comparison to the amount of work INTERN has seen tons of writers do to promote their book—before they even have a book deal.

Over the past year, INTERN has seen it all: writers who make a blog from the point of view of their fictional protagonist, book trailers for books that are actually half-finished manuscripts, sample cover art printed on glossy paper at great expense and submitted with the query or book proposal, custom-made stationary featuring a quote from the book, links to twitter and facebook accounts for a manuscript or character—pretty much everything short of feature-length films of the unpublished manuscript.

As som…

Guest Post: An Errant Interview

Good day, writerly colleagues! Today's guest post takes the form of an interview written by Jill Cayrol, with answers from INTERN (or INTERN's spunky ghost-writer) scattered hither and thither. INTERN herself is hard at work on her next book, "The Care And Grooming of Treasure Trolls 1988-1990," forthcoming in Mocktober 2010.

INTERN is away from her blog at the moment, most likely sitting comfortably on the church pew she rescued from the side of the road last October.  She’s probably flipping through her beloved dictionary in search of the perfect word to describe the organic cloudberry and granadilla snack square that Hippie Roommate made from scratch (after clearing all remnants of Vampire Roommate’s evil-spirit-ridding paraphernalia from every corner of the kitchen).   UNKNOWN HOPEFUL has spotted this as her one and only chance at blog-writing stardom and hopes that INTERN’s legions of fans can handle the intrusion.

In order to keep INTERN’s legions of fans parti…

the grapes of april

Hello, fabulous people!

INTERN has returned from her sylvan hideaway (yes, it was a camping trip—Techie Boyfriend always seems to sense when INTERN needs to be kept away from things like electrical sockets at all costs, and INTERN's mental health, volatile at the best of the times, is feeling much more robust after a week spent searching for morels. ((an activity only slightly complicated by the fact that neither Techie Boyfriend nor INTERN have the faintest idea when morels are supposed to fruit, nor where to find them.))

This month has been a hailstorm of book-related activity, little of which has actually made it onto this blog because INTERN has, by and large, been too hyperactive and/or consumptive to post. Anyway, here's what's been going on:

-A few weeks ago, INTERN's forthcoming book received its first review. (title of said book is 99 Funky Getaways For Active Seniors In the Midwest. There, INTERN has finally divulged her secret! Go forth and purchase it fr…

INTERN on blogging vacation!

Techie Boyfriend announced this morning that he is whisking INTERN off to a secret location for some pre-book release adventures. INTERN is therefore putting this blog on standby for a week or so.

In the meantime, write good things and read good things!

royalties on Total Loss Farm

INTERN was looking through Hippie Roommate's collection of 1970's-era homesteading books last night when she discovered an (apparently classic) tome called Home Comfort: Life on Total Loss Farm. The book was co-written by a dozen or so people who lived on the farm, and discusses everything from well-digging to psychic farming to the challenges of maintaining healthy group vibrations over the course of a Vermont winter.

There's a small section about farm economics—how much money the farm members need to make in a given year to cover the mortgage and property taxes, how the communal checking account works, and where the money comes from.

At this point, the author of the section reveals that most of the commune's income comes from book royalties. He then casually lists six titles from publishers like Knopf, Random House, and Harper & Row.

This blew INTERN's dome.

These cheese-making, outhouse-going, back-to-the-land folks were also published authors whose poetr…

Guest Post: Divine Secrets of Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores

Ahoy Wednesday readers! In this week's Guest Post, bookstore employee undercover book marketing mole Lindsey Carmichael reveals how brick-and-mortars really work. Want people to buy your book from a bookstore? Tip: be nice to Lindsey, and for #^$#'s sake stop moving your book from where it's supposed to be shelved. Lindsay blogs here and here. INTERN will be back tomorrow.


Every writer needs a day job. Supportive spouses, after all, can only take you so far. After it became clear my back up plan (PhD/research scientist) was killing my creativity, there was only one choice left - what better place for a writer to work than a bookstore? There are flexible hours, which free up time for writing. There's on the scene, up to the minute market research. And let's not forget the staff discount.

One of the biggest advantages, however, is the insight into how bookstores* actually function, and how c…

a special message from Confucius

INTERN was going to post something in response to this New York Times article about the growth of unpaid (and sometimes illegal) internships during the recession, but this morning INTERN's forward-happy dad passed along the following, which *obviously* trumps illegal internships in terms of importance:

Confucius say, "If you are in a book store and cannot find The book for which you search, you are obviously in the...

INTERN often gets the impression she is in the Wong Fook Hing bookstore.

Guest Post: A Former Random House Intern Speaks Her Effing Mind

This Fresh and Delightful guest post was submitted by Kristen Lippert-Martin on behalf of Jemima McNally, an 103-year old former intern for Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer (Random House, 1925). Kristen's blog is here. Jemima doesn't care much for computers, but she agreed to have her account posted here because the world needs to know the truth about writers.

Look, I’m only back on the job because I’ve outlived my pension. I had no idea this was not a paying thing, but, well, I’m here now, and the bus isn’t due to pick me up for another four hours, so I might as well read some of this slush crap you people are sending in.

It’s been years since I set foot in a publishing house, but to this day, people are still mewling at me, “How can I become a published writer?”

Let me tell you something about writers. I know writers, and I know writing, and I’m telling you right now, none of you is a real writer. That’s right. Go on back to your mama if you can’t take the truth.

Here’s what it…