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The word personal essay often conjures feelings of boredom and dread among many people. However, this shouldn’t be the case: personal essays are simply refreshing, more chatty, and friendly than formal essays. Personal essays often provide you with an opportunity to speak directly to your audience about anything that you have experienced in your life—from your love life, death, to how you feel when you walk your dog. Here is an overview of some tips for writing personal essays:

Getting Ideas

Brainstorm on your life experiences that are life changing, upsetting, stressful, or humorous. If you find that any of the experiences generates an adrenaline rush for writing, it is probably a good place to begin your essay. Keeping journals of pivotal moments of your life can go a long way in helping you capture great ideas that you can use as starting point for writing your personal essays.

The Hook

To make your essay interesting, start off with a breathtaking bang and get your reader’s immediate attention with the first few sentences or paragraph. You can use anecdotes, quotes, and humor to capture your readers’ attention.

Point of View

You are allowed to use first person active voice in personal essays. In personal essays, you are the narrator and you should do the talking. Although personal essays are more conversational than other forms of essays, never make it sound like a high school life story or diary entry.

Be concise

Word count requirement will differ between publications. However, one thing is certain: concise writing is usually the hallmark of a great personal essay. So after you’ve written your essay, ensure that you thoroughly edit it to cut the fluff and make each word count.

Connect With Your Readers

Although personal essays are usually personal in nature, your message should be widely recognizable if you care about making a precise connection with your readers. The broader your target audience, the greater your publication chances will be.

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Choosing a literary agent is a vital move for aspiring writers. This is because you need this professional to get the most out of your writing career. Now, this does not mean that your agent is an oracle. You have to choose your literary agent carefully. In addition, you have to ask the right questions before you entrust your project to any agent. Below are some of the questions to ask prospective literary agents.

How long have you been doing this job?

It is safe to assume that literary agents get better on the job with time. It also makes sense to assume that the agent with many years experience is likely to have more useful connections than the agent who is still new to the writing and publishing business. For this reason, you ought to ask your agent how long he or she has been in the business because this will help you decide whether to sign up with that agent or not.

What are your plans for this particular project?

This is a vital question because specifics are always better than general information. If a literary agent wants to represent you on a particular project, you need to know exactly how the agent intends to “represent” you. Your work has unlimited possibilities and a good agent should look at the big picture. Important factors like a translation and movie rights should be taken into consideration. Other factors your agents should discuss with you are the position of your work within the larger market and audio/electronic rights.

How much commission do you charge?

Generally, most literary agents charge 10-15% but this figure is not cast in stone. It is possible to get an agent who will charge less than 10% and some agents may charge you above 15%. The important thing is that you should know exactly what you are getting into before committing yourself to any agent.

Get informed

There are other questions you can ask your literary agent but we cannot discuss all the questions in this article. The important thing is that you get informed so that you will not make any avoidable mistakes. You can visit this blog and look at our other articles for more information on this topic. Just read our articles and you will get valuable insight on writing, publishing and negotiating with literary agents.

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So you’ve written a book? Congratulations – now what you have left to do is to write a great blurb or synopsis of your book for your query letter, get your book published and of course, sell enough copies to make the entire venture worthwhile.

Writing story blurbs isn’t as easy as you might think and the trick is to provide a synopsis that gives enough information for the reader to get an accurate idea of what your book is about, without including too many theme descriptions. You also don’t want to make your blurb too long, otherwise a reader and potential publisher of your work may well lose interest, and one or two paragraphs focusing on the highlights of your story, and not the details, is considered to be most effective.

There are some other points to consider to increase the chances of your story blurb catching the attention of a reader. Try not to give away the ending of your story; you want to give a clear idea of what it is about and perhaps some of the plot highlights without giving too much away. Save the details and twists and turns as a surprise for the reader. Talk about one character in the book, rather than several, and try to focus on that character’s human side and the emotions that we are all familiar with – hope, fear, love, etc. If the reader of your blurb can identify with the character in the space of just a couple of paragraphs, they are more likely to be interested. Keep your blurb concise and simple; your story synopsis is not the time to use too much symbolism, overly descriptive passages or long, flowing sentences. Ideally, use the same tone and style as your book contains.

We want you to succeed, and the tips above can help you to be successful with one of the most potentially difficult parts of the book publishing process, writing a killer blurb of your book! The main idea is to get the reader’s attention and keep it long enough for them to want to know more, in this case, the agent you are trying to sell the story to.

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For an new writer, writing a query letter may seem like a bore. All the hard work has already been done, the book is written, so they just want to dash off a quick introduction and be done with it. The query letter is a marketing piece though, a single page to convince an agent to read a writing sample. It is a smart move to make sure it is written in a way that will grab their attention.

The first goal in writing a query letter is to have a strong introduction. If the agent has a lot of work (and virtually all of them do) they will be looking for a hook to convince them to continue reading. A weak or vague opening will give them the excuse to put the letter down and not even look at the sample. Do not give them that excuse.

Once they are hooked with the strong opening, a short summary of the book comes next. This summary is the writer’s chance to set the stage for their book. It should intrigue the agent, perhaps give them a familiar setup with a new twist. Agents read a lot of these, so taking lots of time to make it unique and interesting is a smart move.

Assuming the agent is still interested in the story (and because the first two parts of this letter was so well done, of course they are) the author can now give a little bit of background on themselves. Good stories are the most important part of the literary industry, but having an author with a cool background can help with their branding and sell more books (the ultimate goal here, remember). An author who spends time on their elevator pitch is going to be more memorable to these agents.

Thank the agent at the bottom of the paper, and now the letter is done. The outline is simple, but the devil is in the details. Early writers should spent a lot of time on writing a query letter. This letter is going to sell them to their first customer – an agent that can get them a deal and a career.

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