Think It’s Hard to Get on a Bestseller List?

Amazon bestseller

The sought-after mark of . . . excellence?

Well, yeah, maybe it is. . . .  But not as hard as it used to be.  Why?  Because the bestseller lists—of which there used to be only a handful, a small handful if you count only the ones that counted—are proliferating.  The New York Times Book Review recently announced that their own collection of bestseller lists will be expanding.  They are adding a gaggle of lists, including Travel, Humor, Family, Animals, Politics, Celebrities, Graphic Novels, and more.

Keeping up with the Joneses?  Or maybe the Amazons?  It’s possible; we’re in an age of copycatism . . . Like, for instance, the fact that every humongous website or email host now wants to move their cyber-furniture around when you leave the room. “Facebook did it, it must be good! Quick, let’s reconstruct the menus and tabs while the user goes to the potty!  They won’t even recognize their Facebook Wall—oh wait, we’re going to reconstruct the Wall and call it a Timeline . . .”

Change is good, right?  (I don’t know, sometimes change makes me want to take a nap.)

Perhaps having more bestseller lists will make that prized BESTSELLER honor more accessible . . . and yet, won’t that make it simultaneously less meaningful?  You be the judge . . .

Oh, and you can go to a boot camp, too, to learn how to work the system to get your bestseller badge.  I can’t tell you how many “bestselling” writers I’ve met that I’ve never heard of; nor have you; nor has anyone.  Because they bought or boot-camped their way into bestseller status and were on an Amazon list for a week. Presto!  “Bestselling Author!”

Ah, but I seem to be on a rant.  Too glum for you?  Try this instead, it’ll make you laugh:  18 New Bestseller Lists

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My Gentle Barn: Starred Review from Booklist

If you haven’t had a chance yet to read My Gentle Barn, you may want to pick up a copy. It’s a story to get wrapped up in, one of those tales where you leave your comfy living room sofa and find yourself in another person’s life . . . And Ellie’s a pretty awesome person to hang out with!

Here’s what Booklist had to say about My Gentle Barn (starred review):

The saga of Laks and her animal sanctuary is enormously compelling. She grew up loving animals in a family that could not understand her empathy for “disposable pets.” Struggling to find her way, she fought drug addiction and then successfully started a dog-rescue operation in her spare bedroom. Determined to change the world, Laks rescued animals from a dilapidated petting zoo and then expanded to accept pigs, horses, and more on a multiacre ranch outside Los Angeles. With brutal honesty, she acknowledges the missteps in her first marriage that became a casualty to her rescue efforts, but then she recounts the happiness she found with a volunteer who became her soul mate. The two found enormous personal and professional success as they reached out to at-risk youth and became leading voices in the movement to extend rescue efforts to farm animals. Laks brings so much raw emotion to her narrative that readers will find themselves moved to tears over the lives of goats and cows. Intimate, powerful, and shocking in its revelations about the food we eat, My Gentle Barn is not easily forgotten. This is a book to talk about and return to; it’s a life changer, plain and simple. –Colleen Mondor

You can buy it by clicking on one of the retailer buttons on this page.

What Do Literary Agents Want?

So, you’ve written your book manuscript and you think it’s amazing. Or maybe you just have an idea for a book that you think is amazing. What do you do next?

Back in the day of the renowned editor Max Perkins, you could throw your rough pile of brilliance over the transom of the publishing house, and your in-house editor would make it into an equally brilliant published book.

Times are different. Now your brilliant manuscript (or proposal) has to be polished-perfect to even be considered. And . . . if you want to get anywhere near one of the big publishers, you have to go through a literary agent.

So, once you’ve gotten the feedback and guidance of a professional freelance editor or writing coach and you’ve rewritten your manuscript and/or proposal (as many times as necessary), the next step is to search for potential agents. (Where and how to search is for another post.)  But once you are ready to make your submission, what do agents want to see?

This article in the online Writer’s Digest does a pretty good job of covering the basics.  (The one important piece that’s not covered, other than a passing mention, is how to prepare a proposal. But there are plenty of other resources for that online.)

Also, be sure to read each agent’s submission guidelines on their website.  Every agent has a different set of requirements for what they’d like to receive from you (e.g., query letter first, synopsis, first ten pages, first fifty pages, etc.). And be sure you’re pitching to an agent who has interest in the type of work you’ve written.

I invite any of you to share your own wisdom and experiences (or pitfalls and pratfalls) in submitting work to a literary agent.  Just add a comment!

My Gentle Barn: Another Book Signing Saturday

Ellie Laks and Nomi Isak. Photo by Leslie Miranda.
Ellie Laks and Nomi Isak. Photo by Leslie Miranda: lesliemiranda.com.

If you missed the book signings last weekend, there’s another one on the calendar for this Saturday. Come treat yourself to a glimpse of My Gentle Barn, as shared by Ellie Laks (who is an absolute delight).

Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 1  pm at the Barnes & Noble in Valencia

My Gentle Barn weaves together Ellie’s own journey with the story of how The Gentle Barn came to be what it is today. Filled with heartwarming animal stories and inspiring recoveries, My Gentle Barn is an uplifting account that will delight animal lovers and memoir readers alike.

Or buy the book here.

Nomi Isak is the collaborative writer on Ellie Laks’s memoir, My Gentle Barn.

 

 

Ellie Laks will sign My Gentle Barn

Gentle Barn Cover-full sizeIf you’d like to meet Ellie and have her sign your copy of My Gentle Barn, she will be signing books at the following times and places in the L.A. area. I plan to be there too (at all but perhaps Valencia).

Saturday, March 29, 2014, at 1 pm — Barnes & Noble in Burbank

Sunday, March 30, 2014, 10am to 2pm  at the Gentle Barn!  — Barnes & Noble will be there selling books (Not only a chance to buy a signed book, but you can meet the animals!)  [Map to The Gentle Barn]

Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 1  pm at the Barnes & Noble in Valencia

Read more here for March 29 and April 5 signings:  Ellie at Barnes & Noble

You can also buy the book here.

Nomi Isak is the collaborative writer on My Gentle Barn