Writing Tips, Publishing Strategies, and 101 Literary Ideas for Aspiring Authors

New Mark Shaw Website

Posted by Mark Shaw on September 18, 2012

Hooray! NEW Mark Shaw website at markshawbooks.com. Yes, we are growing, and look forward to seeing you on our new block.

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Aspiring Authors – It Only Takes One!!!

Posted by Mark Shaw on March 31, 2012

Never Give Up, It Only Takes One!!!   Leave a comment

Aspiring authors who dream of being published many times give up too easily. Just remember this – there is a literary agent or publisher looking for you, looking for you book and you just have to find them. Never worry about rejection, just keep the submissions, using the right form, etc., flowing and one day you will get the “yes” you are looking for since it only takes one “yes” and you are on your way to becoming published.

Next month, my first novel “No Peace for the Wicked” will be published after having had some 20 non-fiction books published, but it took more than 17 years for that novel to become a reality since I first heard of the story the book is based on in 1995. Over the years, the book has been revised a thousand times, in fact, at one point the word count was nearly 120,000. Through a tough editing job, I sliced more than 40,000 words and presto, the book found a publisher.

So, keep the faith and keep going. And remember, rejection is not a part of the aspiring author’s vocabulary!

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Plot and Structure

Posted by Mark Shaw on September 29, 2011

Hello Hemingwaywantabes. Hope your writing adventures are coming along just dandy. Wanted you to know about a book that has been most helpful to many regarding writing fiction. It is called Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. Good tips all around including how to create plots and structure guaranteed to assist with your first novel or your latest. Take a look. It’s a winner.

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Road to a Miracle, Mark’s new book, released

Posted by Mark Shaw on July 7, 2011

Yes, it is true, my 24th book, Road to a Miracle, is being released next week by People’s Press and Globe Pequot. It’s the story of the spiritual journey that led me to discover a daughter and two grandchildren that I did not know existed and who thought I was dead. More about the book may be learned at http://www.markshawbooks.net or at Amazon where the first review is a zinger. The link there is http://www.amazon.com/Road-Miracle-Mark-Shaw/dp/1936905000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310062249&sr=8-1.

Hope you enjoy the book.

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Hooray! New Edition of How To Become a Published Author Released

Posted by Mark Shaw on March 19, 2011

Sound the trumpets. Beat the drums. The latest edition of How to Become a Published Author “Idea to Publication” featuring Publishing Strategies, Writing Tips and 101 Literary Ideas for Aspiring Authors is now available on Amazon. Packed with new information, and guaranteed to optimize your chances of become a published author, the book includes guidelines for securing a literary agent, sample query letters and book proposals, and how to submit material into the publishing industry marketplace.

Hope you enjoy the new book. And please visit http://www.markshawbooks.net to learn about free mentoring sessions available upon request.

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Posted by Mark Shaw on February 21, 2011

Yippppeeeeee! A new edition of How To Become a Published Author: Idea to Publication is on the way. Should be ready in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, aspiring authors, keep working hard to improve your manuscripts, query letters, and book proposals. The publishing industry needs fresh faces, fresh writing, fresh stories all around. And remember, it only takes one literary agent to say “yes,” and one publisher to say “yes,” so keep the faith. You will be published!!!

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Scams Abound – Beware

Posted by Mark Shaw on January 17, 2011

With the development of such legitimate self-publishing tools as Create Space and PubIt, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to become involved with a subsidy publishers. So beware of the scams from Author House, IUniverse, Xlibris, Dorrance, and so forth. Sure, they do what they say they will do, but most books never are distributed enough to gain any sense of exposure. Authors, many of them with a good story to tell, and a good writing, end up with an empty wallet and boxes of books in the basement.

To educate aspiring authors, I provide free mentoring services. More information at http://www.markshawbooks.net.

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Read Good Books to Write Good Books

Posted by Mark Shaw on November 18, 2010

That’s right, reading good books helps with the writing of good books. So pay attention to what books are marked as the best written so you can learn from them.

For instance, Hudson Booksellers just listed its Top Books for 2010. Here’s the list. Read a few of them and see what storytelling methods were used, what the writing style is, and what kind of word usage is utilized. Learn from the best, and then write like the best.

Best Fiction

The Passage, Justin Cronin
Room, Emma Donoghue
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
Tinkers, Paul Harding
The Eden Hunter, Skip Horack
Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes
Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart
Bitter in the Mouth, Monique Truong
The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall

Best Non Fiction
The Possessed, Elif Batuman
Let’s Take the Long Way Home, Gail Caldwell
The Wave, Susan Casey
Sh*t My Dad Says, Justin Halpern
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Fatal System Error, Joseph Menn
Birdology, Sy Montgomery
The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee
Last Call, Daniel Okrent
Packing for Mars, Mary Roach

Best Young Readers
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney
I am Number Four, Pittacus Lore
It’s a Book, Lane Smith
Art & Max, David Wiesner

Best Business Interest
Switch, Chip & Dean Heath
Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh
Getting Naked, Patrick Lencioni
The Big Short, Michael Lewis
Aftershock, Robert Reich

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Helpful information regarding Book Industry Trends

Posted by Mark Shaw on October 5, 2010

From Publisher’s Lunch, here are some book industry trends every author should know:
Pre-Frankfurt Analysis: Where the Deals, and Aren’t
With the Frankfurt Book Fair officially opening on Wednesday (and dealmaking already underway at the Frankfurter Hof), “mood”-watchers like the Guardian are already proclaiming last year’s recession-induced  “austerity” over. Publisher of Harper UK’s Blue Door Patrick Janson Smith says, “People have short memories. It was instant panic last year but now it’s back to business.”

But the schedule has also affected the key pre-Frankfurt selling season. With a late Labor Day followed quickly by the Jewish holidays and an earlier-than-usual Frankfurt itself, there have been barely a few “shopping weeks” prior to this year’s fair. We decided to look past sentiment to statistics, which show modest signs of a rebounding acquisition market–and confirm last fall as a low point.

Direct comparison is a little tricky since you have to decide whether to look only at sales in the month of September across the years, or to compare against last year’s entire pre-Frankfurt selling period, through October 13.

Analyzing the Deal database at Publishers Marketplace, total US deal reports for September were unquestionably higher–at 482 deals in total, up 16 percent from 2009, and up 6 percent from the previous high-point of 455 in 2007. Fiction, which drives Frankfurt sales even though it comprises a third of deals overall, is up 17 percent over 2009, and up 9 percent against 2008.

Thrillers are the segment showing the biggest indisputable increase. We had 15 reported sales in September–including four major deals–compared to just 3 thriller sales last September and 10 for September and October 2009 combined. Even 2008 had 17 sales in September and October combined, with 20 across both months in 2007.

Other key fiction sub-categories show stronger activity for September alone, but fewer sales than the longer pre-Frankfurt selling window last year. As an example, the 17 mystery/crime deals for this September were well ahead of the 11 sales recorded in September 2009 and 2008, though last year’s pre-Frankfurt total was 22 deals.

Also hard to call on volume are the closely-watched debut fiction and general fiction categories. Sales reached new highs for September alone this year by a matter of a few deals in each category, but that means the totals are well behind last year’s pre-Frankfurt counts. Debut sales were actually strong last year–15 sales in September and 29 in October, 35 percent ahead of 2008 and slightly below a high-point set in 2007.

What does appear to be strengthening is the number of deals of scale, with two major deals for debut authors this month and another two six-figure deals. That’s better than just two good deals acknowledged pre-Frankfurt last year, but weaker than the six debut deals for six-figures or better from pre-Frankfurt 2008 and the 10 six-figure fiction debuts from the frothy pre-Frankfurt 2007.

Other modest signs of strength comes from the successful young adult fiction market, where deal volume is reasonable and the incidence of big deals is up significantly. September comprised 43 deals–well ahead of September sales in any prior year, though one behind last year’s pre-Frankfurt total in this category, and ahead of 2008’s 37 pre-Frankfurt sales.

Here the money on the table is clearly higher, discernibly up in YA more than any other category, with this September’s YA reports comprising four major deals, three significant deals and another 2 good deals, compared to five good deals and another undefined six-figure deal for all of last year’s pre-Frankfurt reports, and just four modest six-figure deals in 2008’s pre-Frankfurt stretch.

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Free Mentoring for Aspiring Authors Available

Posted by Mark Shaw on August 16, 2010

Yes, Hemingwaywantabes, your loyal book consultant is ready to assist you through “Free Friday” mentoring sessions.

Just this past week, I spent time on the telephone with a woman from Texas who wants to write, but hasn’t a clue as to write about. After hearing her passion for the spiritual world, I suggested she attempt a work of fiction based on the spiritual journey that had led her from the depths of depression to her current state of bliss. The main character may be patterned after her, or another if she chooses, with the plot including how organized religion didn’t quite cut it when too many obstacles were in the way. No matter, the main character, like her, bypasses the traditional route and discovers a path to her God she never knew existed.

If you would like to chat about your book, please check the Literary Consultant page on my website at http://www.markshawbooks.net. Or send me an email at mshawin@yahoo.com to set up a time when we can chat. I’ll be pleased to give you my two cents, based on my experiences in the publishing world, regarding book ideas, storytelling alternatives, book proposal concepts, query letter forms, or even how to find the proper literary agent or publisher for your book.

I love to mentor aspiring authors, whether the genre is fiction or non-fiction, and I look forward to speaking with you.


Mark Shaw

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