Once my husband, Bob, and I enjoyed having several gorgeous red and yellow hibiscus plants growing in our front yard. But we neglected to prune them, and they looked like a bramble bush with branches going every direction. 

Then one day neighbor boys attacked my prized but scraggly hibiscus plants! They broke off branches to use as pretend swords when I wasn’t watching. After they were through, trash and broken foliage littered the lawn in front of my townhouse.

I assumed they had destroyed the plant since broken sticks shorn of their leaves ruined their former beauty. But one morning a breathtaking sight greeted me. A huge bouquet of red hibiscus flowers cascaded down from the top of the plant. The bountiful crop of larger-than-ever blooms proclaimed they had flourished not despite of mistreatment, but because of the “abuse.”

This experience reminds me of a Bible verse. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[ and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2 NKJ).

I see in this simple story a parable of the Christian life. Just as plants need pruning to reach their full potential, so God needs to prune His children’s lives so the fruit of His Spirit can grow within them.

God loves us so much that He will prune His children even if it hurts, and even if it seems He is harming us, but we are not in a position to judge. We need to remember He is God and we aren’t!

True faith does not demand explanations from the Lord. We may ask, but He does not have to tell us.  In the meantime, our part is to walk by faith.

Just as I thought the neighbor boys had ruined my plants, but instead they had unintentionally rejuvenated them. So God uses cutting experiences to make our lives more fruitful.

Our temporary happiness or comfort is not the point. Through Christ, we may always overflow with deep and lasting joy—independent of circumstances. 

To be fruitful in Christ, I need to rest in Him, trusting Him to bear the fruit through me.

So if you’re a child of God, cooperate with the divine Gardener’s handwork instead of fighting against him. Who can tell what Jesus will do in your life if you yield to Him?

 

Hibiscus flowers bloom crimson and yellow,

   Billowy trumpets proclaim their Creator’s work.

They remind me not to strain and strive,

   But to rest in Him from Whom all beauty flows.

So effortless their loveliness appears;

   So persistent their blossoms renew.

Silent witnesses of God’s touch.

   They seem to whisper low:

If He cares for us,

   how much more does He watch over you?

One afternoon a number of years ago in August my husband, Bob, and I with our sheltie, Mac, traveled to Manzanita Lake in northern California. My sister had told us about the wildlife there. As an artist, I was eager to photograph deer and other animals we encountered. 

While sitting at our campsite under a canopy of pine trees, noisy stellar jays adorned with perky top knots fluttered through the overhead branches. We threw pieces of our dog’s food on the ground, and the bright blue birds swooped down and plucked the kibbles up if the pieces landed far enough away from us. 

Suddenly a golden mantle ground squirrel that looked like an overgrown chipmunk popped out of his hole. He scurried toward the food and stuffed himself with the tasty treats. He got to the pieces before the jays did by coming closer to our feet than they were brave enough to do. 

They squawked as though to say, “Hey, that’s our grub. Leave it alone.”

He paid no attention but kept cramming kibbles in his mouth until his cheeks looked like they were about to burst. When he could jam no more in, he turned around, ran back to his burrow, and disappeared.

After he left, the noisy jays swooped down and gorged themselves until the squirrel returned and chased them away. They flapped their wings and scolded him for confiscating food they believed was theirs.

The golden mantle ground squirrel had a goal. He was storing kibbles away for the winter when he would hibernate and later awake to eat his stored cache of food. 

I believe the squirrel has a lesson for us. I’m not talking about storing away physical food, although at times that can be a good idea. No, I’m talking about hiding away in our hearts spiritual food that will sustain us as we face whatever trouble may come into our lives.

Many years ago, I started hiding away spiritual food by memorizing Bible verses. I found it handy to write them on index cards with the verse on one side and reference on the other. With these precious promises memorized, God speaks to me. 

For example, when I wake up, Psalm 118:24 often comes to mind.  “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” The best defense against discouragement is praising God.

When perplexing problems come up, I can claim James 1:5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  

If I want to complain, I need to remember Philippians 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”

When fearful, 2 Timothy 1:7 comforts me. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The apostle Paul wrote this verse when he was in prison awaiting execution by beheading. 

When I’m tempted to say angry words, I need to remember Proverbs 15:15. “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

When I feel guilty about sins I have committed, I remember 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

When I think of death, 2 Corinthians 5:8 soothes my soul. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Are you hiding away spiritual provision for your times of need? Consider buying a pack of index cards, and as you read through the Bible, note those promises and commands that seem to jump out at you. Then copy them. Place your memory verses within easy reach and keep repeating them. After a while, they will sink deep into your heart, nourish your soul, and prepare you for the winters in your life.

 

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How would you like to improve how you relate to others and become more energetic at the same time? All this without having to purchase anything? 

Here’s a surprising truth. One of the most powerful weapons to enhance our lives is our tongue! A powerful energy killer is distress over troubled relationships. Worrying about them can siphon off needed energy.

Here’s a simple five-point plan for improving relationships and increasing your energy at the same time. 

1. Speak encouraging words instead of negative ones. 

Concentrate on positive qualities in other people and dwell on those instead of others’ faults. This alone should do wonders in relieving stress in relationships. Doctors know prolonged anxiety can bring about harmful physical and mental results, however, healing words can soothe stress and lead to improved physical health. Think back in your own life when someone encouraged you. You still remember what they said and the good feeling it gave you. We store in our minds other people’s responses toward us. Which of your words would you like people to recall when they think of you?

2. Don’t pour gasoline on a verbal fire. 

Proverbs 15:1 states, “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”(NKJV) When someone gets mad at you, be careful about your response. Choose what you say before you speak and then talk. Why should you burn your relationship houses down with your own mouth? Remember A soft answer turns away wrath. That way you won’t be adding to the heat of an already roaring fire. Why not try spraying water on an argument with calm words instead? 

Many marriages have crashed because of hurtful accusations partners hurl at one another. You might as well punch a hole in a feather pillow and let the feathers fly out and then try to collect them one by one! We can’t get back the damaging effects of hurtful words either. Want to free yourself from an entrapping verbal situation? Practice waiting a while before answering someone when you’re angry. Carefully choose what you are going to say. The other person may remember your reply for years.

3. Don’t be a motormouth. 

Let’s listen more than we talk and think about what we’re going to say before we spew it out.  People who chatter on and on strain their relationships. If you enjoy monopolizing conversations, consider what other people may be experiencing when they’re with you. Also, the more you talk, the more likely you’ll be to put your foot in your mouth. So pause before you let something out you’ll regret. 

4. Practice carefully choosing your thoughts. 

If you could put your thoughts on CDs or DVDs, what would they be? And if someone played them, what would their reaction be? Would they feel uplifted or would it put them on a downer? What you’re thinking will come out sooner or later in your conversations.

5. Let’s pray for healing words to tap the Source of wisdom. 

Here’s a to-the-point prayer: “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” ( Psalms 141:3). 

Do you want a better life? Choose better words.

Do you believe Jesus Christ of Nazareth rose from the dead or do you think the resurrection is only a legend?

If you are a doubter, what you are about to read might surprise you. 
 
1. Legends take time to develop and become embellished in the retelling, but the news of the risen Christ sprang up right away.

It takes several generations for myths to develop into their final forms. Within a short time the news Jesus rose from the dead spread throughout the Roman empire.

2. Over 500 witnesses encountered the risen Christ.

After His resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to His followers for 40 days. At one time He appeared to over 500 people at one time. Many remained alive years later after the resurrection to tell their own personal stories about seeing the living Christ.

The number of witnesses in trials today is crucial. If you paraded 500 eyewitnesses of a murder in a court of law before a jury, they would find the accused guilty due to the sheer number of eyewitnesses.

3. The death and rebirth of mythical gods is a foreign concept to Jews.

The first Church was Jewish, and they are monotheists. Why would they accept as their Messiah a criminal crucified on a Roman cross? 

4. There is no description of the resurrection itself in the Bible.

If the resurrection is a legend, the creators would describe such a miraculous event in glowing details.

5. The first witnesses to the resurrection were women.

But the testimony of women didn’t count in Roman or Jewish courts in that day, so why would a legend revolve around women instead of men? If the resurrection is a legend, why would the people who started it want women to be the first witnesses? 

The apostles were hiding from the Jews in fear of their lives, but the courageous women put the frightened men to shame. This was a patriarchal society. If people concocted a myth about the resurrection, would they invent brave women and cowardly men in a man’s world?

6. One of the prime witnesses, Mary Magdalene, didn’t even recognize Jesus when she first encountered the risen Savior.

She observed nothing special about Jesus’ resurrected body. Mary thought He was a gardener! Does this sound like a legendary hero?

7. Why would Christians be willing to die for a lie?

Thousands died horrible deaths. Some were covered with oil as human torches and lit to light Caesar’s garden rather than deny Christ. Thousands still die for Him today.

Yes, Jesus did rise from the dead! Millions have received new lives in Him. Why not you?

Trust Him and live forever! 

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

 

 

Have you ever been hiking outside enjoying the fresh air when suddenly an exquisite butterfly visits you? What a treat it is watching these shimmering creatures flit from flower to flower flashing brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and all the colors of the rainbow depending on what type of butterfly you see.

The special hand of the Creator God can clearly be seen in the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Even strong believers in evolution can experience a twinge or two watching the amazing change from a caterpillar to butterfly as it emerges from its cocoon after being tucked away from the watchful eye during the amazing stages of metamorphosis.

Darwin had his own ideas of how all life came into being. He believed a process known as natural selection was responsible for all the humans, animals and plants that have ever existed. Darwin thought that natural selection worked through a series of slight modifications over millions of years. Here’s what Darwin admitted about a weakness in his belief system: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” However, Darwin was certain that there were no examples to contradict what he believed.

 Although he felt he had never seen an example to refute his ideas, consider that the butterfly is proof of dramatic change without slight modification. A caterpillar does not simply grow wings while tucked safely away in his little cocoon, he changes completely. He loses 6 legs and 3 segments of his body. This would be enough to rebuke the theory of a slight modification, yet the butterfly’s story doesn’t end there. Its number of eyes decreases and a sucking tube replaces his jaw! Add to the total amount of changes reproductive capabilities.

All this is more than slight modification — even before you take into account his new set of wings. The butterfly is set about in this world as a completely different creature than he began, and it is not by chance nor by the adaptation that this occurs but through intentional design. The butterfly’s journey from larvae to adult is a proven solid argument for creation.

When a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, his entire purpose changes. The caterpillar is rather destructive. While he is food for birds and other creatures, he feeds on trees and plants, often destroying their beauty. Once he turns into a butterfly, his entire intention changes, as now he is responsible for the germination of plants and flowers. Thus, this is proof that the radical undertaking the caterpillar goes through during metamorphosis is not about adaptation, but about creation in its entirety.

When a caterpillar sleeps in his cocoon and then later emerges as a butterfly, this also reminds us that the same thing can happen to us spiritually as well as physically, but in a different way. When we arrive into the world, the Bible says we are dead in trespasses and sins and need to experience spiritual life. Second Corinthians 5: 17 states that whoever is IN Christ is a new creation!

Jesus said we must be born again. Jesus also said he would come again and those who trust Him who are alive at his coming won’t die but will be changed in an instant at the last trumpet. However, if the Lord Jesus doesn’t return before we die, believers’ bodies will be raised from the dead! Those who trust in the Lord will have bodies like the resurrection body of Jesus Christ. Wow!!!!!!! What a metamorphosis that will be!

The Bible tells us we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. For example, one of the 10 commandments commands us not to lie. There is a penalty attached to breaking any part of God’s Law. It is death. In Romans 6:23 we read that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment we deserve for breaking God’s Law. He was buried but rose again from the dead on the third day.

Trust Jesus today.

 


Man thinks he knows how the worlds began,

accidentally without a plan.

Did the universe appear by chance?

With a big bang and amoeba’s romance?

I believe this simple fact, profound yet true:

God created all . . . A truth old—yet ever new.

 

Did you know there are key health benefits that can result from owning a pet? A furry companion can enhance your physical, mental and social well-being.

1. How can a pet help your physical health?

Owning a dog, for instance, will encourage you to get more exercise. With your faithful friend at your side, you’re much more likely to go for a walk. Walking is one of the best health activities you can do. While walking you’re also more likely to interact with your neighbors because your special pal often acts as an ice-breaker.

Research led by Dr. Karen Allen at the State University of New York at Buffalo shows that pets can help lower blood pressure. Stockbrokers with high blood pressure were studied to see what happened when they adopted a pet dog or cat. Researchers concluded that having a pet nearby helps control increases in blood pressure due to stress. 

In his studies Alan Beck, ScD (Professor of Animal Ecology, Purdue University) found that the simple act of petting your dog slows your heart rate and causes your blood pressure to drop.

An added health advantage from pet ownership is that patients may live longer after heart attacks. Some doctors recommend that a heart attack survivor adopt a dog because research has shown that a faithful canine companion can help prolong an owner’s life.

2. How Can A Pet Improve Your Mental Health?

Pets can help their owners overcome depression through their companionship and unconditional love. They seem to possess the natural ability to help you relax and enjoy life more. Pets can also help when you experience times of loneliness.

English poet, Alexander Pope, has stated that histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends. According to a Chinese proverb, dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails, not their tongues. When you take care of a pet, you have to develop a routine of getting out, buying food and providing exercise. This can help fight off depression and loneliness. The simple responsibility of pet care can help you get your mind off yourself and your problems.

3. How can a pet enhance your wellbeing in relationships?

Pets are more than just a member of the family. They’re central to a healthy lifestyle. Pets help lessen tension between family members and add a lot of fun and unconditional love to the homes where they live. When pets do cute and funny things, which they often do, family members react by laughing and being more relaxed.

If you don’t have a pet yet, consider making one part of your family, but make sure you have the time and resources necessary to provide a stable loving home for your new friend.

If you choose a dog as your new pal, remember this wise old saying. “A dog is man’s best friend.” That’s true in more ways than one. You’ll get unconditional love, companionship, loyalty, and relaxation in return for your investment of time and material resources.

What a bargain! 

“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” Psalm 51:12

 

One morning as I glanced at the clouds from the kitchen window, I noticed with delight that the bougainvillea I assumed was dead had blossomed again.

What a surprise to welcome back the purplish-red flowers peeking at me as though to say, “I’m still here.” Grasshoppers unknowingly imported from a hibiscus I purchased had swarmed over my lovely plant and ate the foliage. It was in an awkward spot to spray with bug killer or to pick off the insects one by one. And with my allergies, I was reluctant to use pesticides, so I gave up and stopped watering what remained of the once vibrant flowering shrub—only bare branches. But a downpour of rain from recent storms soaked it, and it pushed out new growth again after many months of lying dormant. I had missed the cheerful blossoms and was so glad they had returned.

There beyond my kitchen window was a lesson just for me and maybe you too. Sometimes I feel like that bougainvillea whenever I focus on my circumstances instead of on the Lord. When I rush ahead of Him and do things on my own, grasshoppers of discouragement, worry, and fear invade my life. I too dry up after opening the door to these enemies. When God points out I’ve let peace-devourers inside me, I turn back to Jesus and ask Him to forgive and restore me to close fellowship. Then I can once again please Him and enjoy the life-giving water of His Spirit and Word.

Has your life ever seemed as though it was about to dry up? God’s living water can revive you—no matter where you are in life or what you’ve done. Just turn to Him with repentance and ask Him to restore the joy of His salvation.

Dear Lord, please help me keep my eyes on You instead of on my circumstances.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Go Deeper — Keep looking to Jesus instead of your troubles.

blogs tipsWriting a blog can be rewarding if you implement the tips in the following post.

One reason it’s worth all the work is that through blogging you have a great way to express yourself online. In addition, your blog can make money, and you can help others by sharing helpful information.

 

 

How to attract readers to your blog and keep them.

First of all, write about what interests you. If you don’t,  you won’t have what it takes to keep blogging year after year. Bloggers need to be persistent to eventually see the results of their hard work.

In addition, keep in mind when you first start your blog, people are looking for information. So learn how to have a successful blog and make them happy. Give readers what they want. Keep providing valuable content so people will follow you. If you want to succeed, collecting an email list is not an option. And build it from the very beginning. 

The best way to entice readers to sign up for your newsletter is to offer valuable free information they can’t get anywhere else. And continue to offer more free stuff. Also, give readers a chance to sign-up for your email list at the end of each post. That’s another how to have a successful blog tip.

Consider adding a pop-up to collect emails at the bottom right of your blog. On it promise a valuable free gift. And as you continue to learn, keep giving your knowledge away. Create downloadable PDFs full of information. You can market your product in your e-book.

Here’s another how to have a successful blog tip. Be consistent. Blog at least once a week. If you send out four posts one week, one the next week, and three the next, it will confuse your readers.

As you get more and more subscribers, don’t neglect the ones you already have. Show you care about the people on your list. Never forget, real people are following you.

Create a riveting web presence that will attract loyal readers.

Make sure your site is well-designed. A bad design will drive potential subscribers away.

Choose a theme for your blog–a specific topic that will attract targeted audiences.  Ask yourself when writing a post, would someone email it to a friend?

Don’t mimic somebody else. Be yourself. After all, there’s only one you.

Always tell the truth and never mislead your viewers. You’ll lose them.

Get ideas from comments on your blog and your Twitter posts and make sure your content is good enough to share on social media.

Use Google analytics on your site, but wait awhile—at least several months before you keep checking it.

At times don’t finish your posts, and ask your readers to add their input. Don’t put dates on your posts. Your content will eventually appear irrelevant.

Don’t let your writing sound stiff like you’re writing a term paper. It’s boring. Write like you’re talking to a friend over a cup of coffee—approachable like a real person, not a robot. Use a lot of contractions.  Hang out with your readers in a chatty tone.

Most people don’t read entire blog posts, they only scan them. So write with scanners in mind. Before you begin your post create an outline and use headers. Make a list of 10 items you want to write about and then write headers. Put one in every few paragraphs. Your post will be much easier to read. With the outline already made, just fill in the blanks.    If you make a claim, don’t forget to back it up with research and data.

Edit, edit, and re-edit. I use Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool to catch many errors. When I first started using it, I couldn’t believe how many mistakes it found. But even though you try as hard as you can to make a perfect post, it will probably never happen. Later you can update your posts when you find errors you didn’t notice before.

Ihope these tips about how to have a successful blog will help you on your blogging journey.  It may take a long time for you to see results, but over time it can be very rewarding. Many other people have developed a thriving online community. Why not you? . . . if you do blogging right and don’t quit.

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how to write a self-help book step by step

 

 

The self-help book industry is booming today, and this category sells well, so it may be a good time for you to consider how to write a self-help book. It’s lucrative since people are always looking for solutions to their problems. Literary agents and publishers like self-help books because they make money for them.

 

Research Your Self-Help Book

To write a successful self-help book requires a lot of research. First, you must choose your topic from many possible subjects. Do you want to write about anger management? How about how to become healthier? Want to write tips on how to organize cleaning your house, becoming an online entrepreneur, and much more? Once you choose your subject, dieting, for example, you need to narrow it down. How about writing a book about nutritional supplements that help take off weight? 

Envision your audience and the problem they face. You don’t need a doctorate to write a self-help book. But you must have overcome the problem yourself to have something helpful to share. And you must master how to write a self-help book tips.

Research statistics on how well your topic ranks in Amazon. Use relevant sources to find out more. Research case studies and interesting stories and interweave them throughout your book. Start your search for information online and check out relevant forums on your topic. 

Read self-help books written by your competition. To be unique, your book must present different information than the ones on the market. When you read your competitors’ books, ask yourself if the authors did a good job. How could the authors have improved their presentations? Ask yourself how is your book different from what is already out there. Your unique overcoming situation can make your book differ from the rest of the books. And your research will help you establish credibility.

 

How to write a self-help book: tips

1. Understand your target audience.

2. Know what you’re talking about.

3. Use you and I for a warm tone. 

4. Don’t preach to your readers. Instead come alongside them and share what you experienced that qualified to share.

5. Use a conversational writing style. What would you say to a friend over a cup of coffee? That way you’ll establish rapport with your readers. When you write the book think about your audience as if they are friends seeking advice. 

6. Keep this advice simple and to the point. 

7. Write quality content with real life stories that will motivate your readers. Offer practical solutions and fresh and different content with a new spin. As you present one suggestion, let it lead into another. 

8. Before you write your book, get organized with daily goals of how much writing you’ll do each day.

9. When it’s time to submit your book to an agent or editor, properly prepare your manuscript. With your non-fiction proposal explain your book’s marketability.

10. Proofread your manuscript and invest in an editor.

 

Self-Help Book Mistakes

1. Don’t write in a self-absorbed manner. Instead, your book should be all about the reader.

2. Readers aren’t interested in theoretical advice. Make sure your suggestions are practical.

3. If all your content is rehashed, your book won’t succeed.

4.  If you neglect to study how the publishing industry works, don’t expect to attract an agent or a publisher.

5. Research literary agents, editors, and types of publishers. Then you’ll prepare yourself to send your book proposal to the right people.

6. In the past it wasn’t an issue, but now with advanced technology you must grow a fan base and a competitive online presence. Without a strong web platform you won’t be able to compete with other writers. And you’ll show no evidence of being able to promote your book like many others are already doing.

7. Your book proposal must be of the highest quality to have a chance at publication. 

8. Does your manuscript reek with typos and poor formatting? If it does, don’t bother sending it to an agent or publisher.

 

How to Write A Self-Help Book Step by Step

1. List 10 things readers might ask about their problem and create chapters based on those questions. 

2. Choose a compelling title. It should make a promise to the readers. The title should assure your readers you’ll help them solve their problem.

3. Create an outline to keep focused.

4. Write an intro, brief bio showing yourself as an expert, and why you wrote the book.

5. Outline each chapter before you write at least 10.

6. Present one skill or subject per chapter.

7. At the end of each chapter, summarize it and give readers exercises to do.

8. Create headings and subheadings to make it easier for readers and write short paragraphs.

9. Your book should be from 60,000 to 80,000 words.

Write such an excellent self-help book your audience will buy another one from you. They may also want to connect online to get your free material, and they may buy your products too. 

 

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how to write a queryWriters, do you want your hard work to pay off? Would you like to find your book at the local bookstore? Isn’t that every writer’s dream? A query letter serves as your introduction to agents and editors. For novelists, it is your first and probably only opportunity to attract an agent. So it’s time for you to learn how to write a successful query letter if you don’t already know how.

 

If you fail at writing one that grabs an agent, your book will never leave your desktop. Or you’ll have to self-publish and pay for it yourself. 

 

A successful query letter’s purpose

You want an agent to care about your main character and what happens to her so she’ll ask to see your novel. Agents will judge a book by the quality of your query letter. If it’s mediocre, she won’t ask to see your book.

You may be a great fiction or nonfiction writer, but that doesn’t mean you can craft a great query letter. It’s basically a sales letter, and you may not know much about writing sales copy. You have only about eight seconds to grab an agent’s attention. This requires looking at your book in a different way—as a product and not your baby. Now you must think about its salable qualities. 

Before you write a query letter, do your homework and research what literary agents want. For example, does the targeted agent accept your genre? Do they want submissions from unpublished writers? If they don’t, you are wasting your time. See how important it is to learn how to write a successful query letter.

 

Query letter tips

1. Your novel must be ready to send to an agent. 

2. Develop a strong internet platform, such as a blog. You’ll be responsible for much of the book’s promotion. 

3. Hire an editor to check your letter for errors.

4. Write to only one agent in each agency. Check with each literary agency’s submission requirements and follow them.

5. You may send simultaneous queries 3 to 5 at a time. You don’t have to mention you’re doing this.

6. The word count should be around 250.

7. A query letter should be a single-spaced, one-page document. 

8. Select black text and font size 12 on white paper. Choose Times New Roman font unless agent tells you otherwise.

9. Hit one space between sentences—not two.

 

Avoid query letter mistakes.

1. Don’t overuse adjectives and adverbs. 

2. Don’t send a hand-written letter.

3. Don’t use strange type fonts.

4. Don’t talk about how many years of effort you’ve spent to write your novel.

5. Don’t say how much your friends and relatives enjoyed reading your book

6. Don’t misspell the agent’s name.

7. Don’t send anything else until the agent requests it.

8. Don’t brag.

9. Don’t send over one page unless requested to do so.

10. Don’t forget to include an SASE or email address.

 

Successful query letter layout

 

On top left of paper

 Type your name and address in the upper left corner. 

 

 Greeting

Address your letter to each agent by name. Make sure she is still at the agency. If this is an email submission, include your title in the subject line. Type QUERY: TITLE

 

Paragraph 1

Write a strong lead sentence. Share how you met or had contact with the agent. If one of her existing clients referred you, say so. Share if a famous person vouches for you. In case you’ve met at a writer’s conference, tell her. Say why you’ve approached the agent. Perhaps she has other clients who’ve written novels in your genre, and that’s what drew you to her.

Mention a professional editor edited your book—if one did. Agents appreciate the extra care you’ve put into your book.

Now share the title, genre, word count, and target market. 

In the first paragraph, your hook is what will compel an agent to ask for your manuscript. Boil down your story. What does the protagonist want? Why does he want it? What keeps him from getting it? Make the agent care about your main character.

Your hook should be between 100 and 200 words. Don’t mention over four characters. Three are better. Leave out minor points in the story. 

Now in one sentence mention you have a series in mind if you do.

 

Paragraph 2

Summarize your story. Tell about your main characters and what happens. And what choices they must make. But end with a cliff hanger. What does the main character what above all else, and what is standing in the way of her desire?

Reveal all this in five sentences or less. Show. Don’t tell.

 How does your manuscript differ from those with similar titles? Tell why your book is unique. Compared it to 4 to 5 similar novels. List the title, author, release year, and describe the book. Show how yours and their books are similar and would appeal to the same people.

 

Paragraph 3

 This is where are you add your biographical information, but make sure it’s relevant.

Show what qualifies you to write a novel. Why did you write it?

If you have many credentials, put them on another page. If you are an unpublished novelist, you need not include a bio.  But if you’ve done intriguing research, mention it. If you have no meaningful accomplishments to put in a bio, don’t include it. Many agents accept novels from unpublished writers.

 

Paragraph 4

 Show how you’ll market your book.

 Ask would you be interested in discussing representation of my novel?

 

 Closing

 You can close with “warmly” or similar words.

 Type your name and under it put your telephone number and email address.

 

What to do after submitting your query letter

Wait about a month. If you sent your query letter through the mail, send another copy. Do not visit the agent or call her. It’s probably a rejection.

 An agent may ask for an exclusive read on your book. While they’re doing it, no one else can read your manuscript. If you grant an exclusive reading, do it for a short period—maybe two weeks.

 Most situations are non-exclusive. In that case, if someone requests the manuscript before the first agent responds, tell him your book is being considered elsewhere. But you don’t have to say with whom. Let the first agent knows the second agent offered representation. And give her the opportunity to respond.

I’ve offered several suggestions to help you learn how to write a successful query letter. Now write or rewrite one, and wow an agent. 

 

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