Archives for the month of: September, 2010

You make a product. You think it’s great. You launch it… and no one shows up. How’s a startup supposed to grow in an environment like that? – where you can build something useful that only 1/100,000 people are interested in? (Yay for early adopters! But every startup wishes it had more early adopters.)

It’s a problem we all have to face, of course. Attracting users is sort of hard. “If you build it, they will come” is simply not the case; and it’s never been the case – at least not since ye olde days when Kevin Costner had a career. No point in complaining, though. We just, as struggling startups, need to figure out a strategy to attract interest and/or get some press.

But even the old-fashioned problem-free path to press – throw money at a PR firm – won’t get a tech startup very far, necessarily. Michael Arrington’s been pretty vocal about sucky, annoying PR ‘stars’ who make rabid pitbulls look like Jedi masters. Press releases just feel dull. And, with success stories like Mint aside, old-school PR just isn’t cool enough or smart enough or ‘with it’ enough in the tech community to help startups get the blog coverage we need. Read the rest of this entry »


If you’re ever feeling great about yourself and wonder when the high is going to stop, here’s a quick way to expedite the inevitable low: try to make the publishing world less serious. Try to have a bit of fun in the ultra-serious world of Books, capital B.

It’s a sure-fire way to get knocked to your knees.

Something I just read makes me feel like a victim of publishing elitism… but I feel too low to recount my own story quite yet. So, instead, I’ll reference two classic examples of people who were flatly rejected by book snobs when they tried to inject a little fun into books: JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. Read the rest of this entry »

Since Microsoft Word 1.0, there has been a low barrier to entry for anyone whose dream it was to write a book. If you had an idea for a story and the time to dedicate to the keyboard, you could produce a manuscript to enjoy by yourself or share with others. There have always been writers… with stories to tell… and very little friction – besides hard work and determination – to get in the way of completing a manuscript.

Now, if your dream extends beyond a Word document, let’s say, to getting your book sold through the retail channel, the barriers to entry become very large, very quickly. Unpublished writers are faced with trying to convince the gatekeepers of the publishing world – known as literary agents – that they have a marketable asset… something that can sell in volumes large enough to offset the tremendous costs of getting books into stores and in the hands of readers. Before the Kindle and e-publishing, this was practically the only path to getting published. Read the rest of this entry »

Every two weeks, we’ll post the published book deals for newly discovered fiction writers – because new writers need & deserve publicity. We’ll tweet these posts, in case you miss them. Also, if your first book deal has escaped our attention or if we’ve missed/inaccurately represented any details here, please comment or email us

AUTHOR: Taylor Polites
TITLE: Untitled
AGENT/AGENCY: Trena Keating of Keating Literary
PUBLISHER: Touchstone Fireside (Trish Todd)
DEAL DETAILS: Pre-empt between $50K – $100K
About a young wife whose husband dies of a mysterious blood fever, leaving her to navigate a world irrevocably altered by war, political treachery, and racial conflict where everyone is hiding something from her and her desire for independence may cost her her life. Read the rest of this entry »

After recently reading a post by well-read blogger and literary agent Nathan Bransford about the future of publishing, I was giving some thought to this gated world of publishing and to Bransford’s POV on the subject of the changing face of publishing. In a nutshell, he argued that (indirect quote; please read full post):

self-publishing digitally will allow more writers to circumnavigate agents & editors, go straight to the published form, and, when their works are of a high quality, be “driven to popularity by passionate readers” – readers who somehow find these needles in haystacks and promote them (i.e., download them).

It strikes me as strange, though, that one might regard The Digital as capable of causing this sort of dramatic change… for writers. As if writers, in their desperation to be published and their exasperation at the querying/rejection process, will simply say, Forget it – I’ll publish it myself. Why would they turn to self-publishing now? Because it’s less expensive than it used to be? Yes, the tech allows it, but is self-publishing what writers want? Read the rest of this entry »

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an unpublished writer in possession of a manuscript must be in want of an agent. In desperate want, in most cases. And that want is made all the more desperate when we unpublished writers read countless blog posts that rupture our already thin skin and rub salt in the resulting wounds with this simple, endlessly repeated message:

It’s very hard to get signed with an agent…
and it’s impossible to get published without one.

Our fates are, quite simply, in the hands of literary agents. If we want to be published, and we do, we need to be represented by an agent. Agents are our go-betweens, our priests taking our confessions (i.e., manuscripts) and prescribing acts of penance (i.e., edits) that will get us closer to the very thing they are created to separate us from. The literary agent – whether good or bad, proven or not – is shrouded, cloaked, steeped in this sacred power that makes the unpublished writer wilt and quiver at the very notion of approaching an agent with a query letter. (See the comment from Jamie on this post) Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a lot to the title of this blog post. To get anywhere near bootstrapping, first you need an idea. And there is no shortage of ideas. Recently it’s become apparent that a lot of smart people are happy to post their ideas for new businesses on popular sites like Hacker News. I grew up thinking that a good idea is precious, and that it must be kept hidden from others at all costs, until it’s ready to be launched to the world. But as the debate about ‘idea versus execution’ rages in small circles of would-be entrepreneurs, I’ve come around in my thinking… to where I believe a good idea is important, but the execution of that idea is what’s truly precious.

Finding an idea that you believe in… that is the hard part. How do you assess the quality of an idea? What makes something worth ‘believing in’? Read the rest of this entry »