Do you speak Agent-ese?

Do you speak Agent-ese?

Do you speak Agent-ese? 

I recently had lunch via Zoom with one of the agents I frequently speak with.

I know in this day and age, we’re doing a lot of digital meetings. It was funny, because she was telling me about negotiating rights with another person over Zoom. 

We are all dealing with the coronavirus right now. One of the positive things we can choose to see during these times is now writers have the time to write, read, and slow down a little.

And there is light at the end of the tunnel over in the Writing Gym. The publishing business has not slowed down despite the coronavirus. 

During my meeting with the agent, we strategized the careers of some of our writers who are in the Novel Selling U and are also on the Paths to Pulitzer. These writers have finished their novels, and they’re in the submission process. They’re creating that career. 

I want to highlight one particular member: Jeanne. The agent and I were looking at her synopsis and marketing angle. We asked each other: “Where are we going to place her novel in the market?” 

Imagine having access to an agent in the way that Writing Gym members do, an agent who can look at the whole picture and say: “All right, placement-wise, where’s the very best place for this and how can we position this so that this author is successful?”  

So, two pieces of good news;

One, agents are still looking for quality manuscripts.

Two, kudos to Jeanne and some of the other authors over in the Writing Gym for joining the Writing Gym and having created access for themselves to that kind of expertise.

The other thing that came up in the course of the conversation was the way agents reject manuscripts, and the things they say when they do.

It is not the agent’s job to tell you what to do with your manuscript when they reject it. But, they do have different ways of telling you they’re rejecting your piece. This particular agent I talked to said: “You might want to have some more people to read your work.” That was her way of saying that your manuscript just isn’t ready yet, but she won’t really tell you everything that you have to do.

Again, that is not the agents’ job. 

You might not understand this, because you don’t speak Agent-ese. The thing is, I speak to agents several times a week. I’m speaking to publishers and editors several times a week so that I can read between the lines when the writers over in the Writing Gym get those rejection letters. And because of that, we can interpret the letters. 

Remember when we were all still in school and we were graded with letters, from A-F? We can try to interpret your “grade” judging by the rejection letter. Is it an A or an F? What are they really trying to say with this language that they’re using?

At the Writing Gym, we have agents who have worked with us for a long time and, to be honest, 50% of the agents who I talk to are people I personally know. Because of that, we can get on the phone, call these agents up, and let them know that a manuscript has finally been revised. We can also depend on these agents to give us some meaningful feedback on the writing. This is really important.

Our Gym Rats aren’t stuck trying to deal with the confusion that comes with Agent-ese, such as asking unsurely whether it’s the manuscript itself or the query letter that has led to the rejection. 

Are you getting a lot of rejections and you’re not really sure what they mean? Or are you one of those authors who starts a novel and then starts it again and then isn’t quite sure what to do with it? Or are you someone who is confused about what genre your novel falls into? Let’s talk about it and clear up the confusion. Contact me here.

Happy writing. 

Top Author Tips to Get that Novel You Wrote in a Month to PUBLISHABLE

Top Author Tips to Get that Novel You Wrote in a Month to PUBLISHABLE

Top Author Tips to Get that Novel You Wrote in a Month to PUBLISHABLE


While we are all at home, doing our part to flatten the curve, our Writing Gym members are taking advantage of this quarantine time to work on their writings. One of our amazing Writing Gym members, O’Dell Isaac, is at the Revision phase of our program. 

Currently, he is working on a detective story in which the main character is helping the Health Department find a person who is HIV positive. During his search, he finds himself in the middle of craziness as he works to solve his case. 

I reached out to O’Dell when I saw his post on our Writing Gym page on Facebook, celebrating his completion of a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo. I congratulated him on his achievement and then asked him: “What’s your next step?” 

“I actually didn’t know what to say,” O’Dell states, “I was too busy doing my victory dance to actually think about what I can do next. I realized that what I was celebrating was not something I was comfortable giving to an agent.” 

“It’s one thing to want something, but it’s another to have a concrete plan with steps to take and here, we’re talking about my publishing career,” O’Dell insightfully states. We talked in hindsight of our first telephone call. From there, I asked him to send me the first 20 pages of his manuscript. I called him back, had a longer conversation with him, and he finally joined the Writing Gym. 

“I didn’t really have any idea what I was getting into. I was nervous but excited too,” O’Dell continues, “because I was taking a step that I had never taken before. I didn’t know what was out there, but I figured it was going to represent forward motion. It was going to take me further than I had been in this process.” 

O’Dell credits the Writing Gym for its accountability aspect:

“Someone is getting you to work out the tools that you have and develop new ones that you may not have had before. Someone comments on your results and looks at your writing and sees the maturation, the progress.” 

O’Dell states that he has come such a long way in his writing, that when he opened his manuscript again it seemed to him like someone else had written it.

“I’ve come so much further that it almost looked like it had been written by someone else, but the encouraging part of that is that I’ve become a much stronger writer.” 

The most important and beneficial thing O’Dell learned with us is to believe in himself. “Self-belief is something I never really had before. But now, I know that I have the tools that work best for me and my genre. It’s just a matter of knowing how to apply those tools.” 

We love analogies here at the Writing Gym, and I especially love what O’Dell states about the toolbox. There are a lot of programs out there that, in the context of the toolbox analogy, would come up to a broken door that you’re trying to fix and replace your hammer with a screwdriver or a wrench or something else. Then, you’d have to figure out how to use that tool instead of the one that you are familiar with. Now, you’re stuck with a tool you have no experience with.

At the Writing Gym, we open your kit and we take note of what works and what doesn’t work for you personally and move forward with that knowledge. 

Indeed, the Writing Gym wants our writers to improve and to succeed. We want to point writers at the right direction and help them achieve their writing and publishing dreams. 

We are so happy that we have O’Dell in our Writing Gym membership. We are proud of all his achievements and we hope that you, too, can take advantage of your time inside your home to write and write and write. 

Stay safe and happy writing.

Get your book published…ALL over the world

Get your book published…ALL over the world

Get your book published… ALL over the world 

Terence Harkin–Terri is a friend of mine and a great example of not only how it is possible to get your book published in the American market, but also in multiple places AND get a three-book deal.

Terri wrote his latest book, The Big Buddha Bicycle Race, before we met at the Writer’s Digest in New York City, and he shares his experiences below. 

“I met Annalisa at a time when this book was out and I was getting a second book ready,” Terri says. “I was still having some doubts about how it was gonna grab an audience. Annalisa had read the first chapter, and she gave me a lot of valuable and positive feedback. It’s just given me a lot of incentive to go forward.” 

We are so glad to hear that the Writing Gym was able to help Terri with his publishing journey. 

His happy-ever-after is this three-book deal that he’s got for this series, which is really amazing. A year and a half ago we were in New York, and now he’s got an Asian publisher in Chiang Mai, Thailand who will be doing the Asian release of his book set in Asia. Ohio University Press is going to do the American release. Moreover, they’re also trying to get some French publishers interested. 

The future is bright. 

Terri is a wonderful example of how is it possible to publish your book in the American market, and to publish in multiple places and to get multi-book deals.

Thank you Terri for your inspiration. 

Publishing successfully is about having the best product and best marketing plan to get your book into the world and reader’s hands.

We’d love to talk to you if you’re serious about getting published, if you’ve got questions about your individual situation, and what you can do about it. Click this link to book a call.

Happy Writing. 

Cheap Pans… and Other Musings on Writing

Cheap Pans… and Other Musings on Writing

Cheap Pans… and other Musings on Writing 


Some of you may know that in the past couple of weeks, I have been displaced from my home. There was an emergency, so I’ve been in this temporary housing situation. I bought two little cheap saucepans, thinking that I’d only need them for three weeks maximum. 

“This is going to be fun,” I first thought as I paid $10 for both pans. Well, it’s been a little bit more than three weeks, and at this point I’ve thrown away both saucepans. In the course of cooking, at one point or another, they started smelling really bad. Teflon, a chemical that gets released from using certain cookware, can be bad for your health. So I chucked both away. 

What are we talking about here? This isn’t a cooking show. As I was preparing dinner (not with the two cheap saucepans), I thought about how there are people who first buy these cheap products, not wanting to invest in high-end ones.

They’d buy cheap sauce pans, then three months later they have to go back to the store to buy more because their old pans are defective. Again, they end up paying $10, and get stuck on this cycle until they waste so much money that actually amounts to the cost of the $700 high-end cookware.

Most importantly, and most upsetting, is the fact that many writers treat their writing lives this way. They go to these free library groups and cheap writing classes over and over again without getting real results. What ends up happening is more damage done to their writing because of these choices they are making. 

Cheap solutions, just like those cheap saucepans, are not going to be the best and healthy choice you can do for your writing lifestyle.

Writers who look to these cheap solutions are getting the wrong kind of feedback and the wrong kind of information from people who don’t know what’s going on. 

If writers choose to invest in themselves in the first place, not only will they save tons of money and time, they are doing what is best for their craft by getting actual, healthy results.

If this resonates with you, and you are ready to make the investment of your writing life, let’s talk. Book yourself right into my calendar

Happy writing. Happy cooking. Happy eating. Until next time. 

Making Time for Reflection

Making Time for Reflection

Making Time for Reflection


As I was walking through the Vermont woods on a beautiful sunny but cold day, I thought about the writing process. Some of you know I’m in the process of writing two books at the moment, and one is due back to my editor on Monday, so we’re wrapping up that draft.

I could have stayed at home and worked on that draft, because I’ve certainly got work to do, but as I walked through the woods, I thought about the importance of taking time to reflect. It’s important to set aside time for inspiration, take time to let your brain relax a little bit, give it space to reflect, and get inspiration. 

It’s amazing the ideas that come to you while you’re walking.

You don’t have to walk out in the woods; you can walk in your neighborhood, or around a track at your local college.

What matters is getting out, doing something different, and allowing your story to run in the background, to give it some time to marinate while you’re ruminating. 

It’s really important to the creative process to take time off from your book and not worry about it. Instead of thinking, “Am I ever gonna get published?” “Am I ever gonna finish it?” “Am I ever gonna do it?” give your brain a break and take some time off.

I hope you are finding inspiration, and ways to find inspiration.

Happy Writing. 


What Gets in the Way of Publishing

What Gets in the Way of Publishing

What Gets in the Way of Publishing? 

When it comes to what gets in the way of finishing and of publishing that book, I think you’re going to be surprised by what I say. There are people out there working to finish and publish a book, and they think it’s going to be easy. However, it is a complicated process.

So, what gets in the way of people publishing? 

Many writers want to live the “author lifestyle,” so they ask me: “How can I get published?” “How do I do that” “What is the secret?” They often want a magic pill, to do one thing to get their novel published. 

In the end, what happens is they go through a cycle of submissions, and they experience a lot of rejection that doesn’t feel good. So, they stop and give up. They feel frustrated, and unsure of what to do next. It’s a terrible situation to be in, so rather than finding a real solution, they fall back on writing. 

It sounds good, because writers should write. And it is.

 You can’t publish books if you don’t write them. However, many writers use writing as a crutch.

Rather than go through the experience of rejection, and learning how not to be rejected by having the right submission and working with someone,  they go back to only writing.

The “only” is important here. They use that writing as a crutch, because all they’re doing is writing. It feels like they’re doing something- they’re busy, producing pages, writing words, things are happening.

However, they’re not putting it out there into the world.  

The act of writing in and of itself will not get you published. Using writing as a crutch is a big problem. That is why the writers in the Writing Gym are not only writing everyday, but they are also getting the right information on how to submit that manuscript, and many other important steps that can lead to getting published. 

Many writers miss these important steps. They don’t have the right materials or the right connections. What we do over in the Writing Gym gets writers those connections and the right information so that they can be successful and publish.  It’s common for writers in our Facebook group to get requests for full manuscripts from publishers.

Imagine what it would feel like to have the right tools, the right knowledge, and the right support to get a “yes” in less than an hour. If you’re serious about becoming an author and living the author lifestyle, and you’re ready to stop doing what isn’t working and start doing the things that do work, book a call now.

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