Bill Jensen: A Wealth of Experience and a Vision for the Innovative

By Elizabeth Griffin

About 15 years ago a friend of mine said she had an idea for a book. She wanted to list one thousand things she was grateful for. I encouraged her to write her book, knowing the exercise would be good for her (though I secretly doubted its marketability).

My friend never wrote that book, but Ann Voskamp did. And, thanks to the visionary work of Bill Jensen, we are all beneficiaries of not only one inspirational book from Ann, but we now have seven and counting.

The list of books published with the help of William K Jensen Literary Agency is long and varied. Bill and his colleagues promote subjects as diverse as the latest conflicts in the Middle East and cooking, historical fiction and children’s picture books, Christian living and health. Many writers have found their home with this agency, and maybe you will too.

With forty years of experience in the publishing industry, including positions with Harvest House Publishers, Multnomah Publishers, and Crossway Books, Bill opened his own agency in 2005. Working on both sides of the aisle—as editor and agent—has given Bill a unique ability to hone an author’s work and steer him or her down the path to its intended audience. He recognizes target markets, is masterful at developing messages for a mass audience, and brings creativity to the entire publishing process. More than once, Bill has been on the cusp of emerging trends.

William K Jensen Literary Agency is looking for innovative writers who take on perennial topics, including Christian living, devotional, marriage, family life, apologetics, biography, gift books, cookbooks, prophecy, humor, health, inspirational, political, social issues, women’s issues, men’s issues, and adult fiction. The agency is not looking for science fiction, fantasy, or youth.

NCWA’s annual Renewal is the perfect time to bring the dreams on the back burner of your mind into the forefront. Polish them off and take the risk of presenting your idea to an agent or editor. Just think about what would have happened for my friend if she had followed her desire and written the book she had in mind? Clearly her idea was one the Lord wanted people to hear. I wonder how many times He whispered it in someone’s ear before Ann obeyed.

In addition to taking editorial appointments and serving on the panel of experts, Bill will teach two workshops that are essential to get you started on the road to publication:

What It Takes to Land a Literary Agent by Bill Jensen – Discover the three things agents and publishers are looking for in an author’s work. How do you find a big idea that’s in keeping with your calling and passion? How do you build a platform today in the overcrowded world of social media? What exactly is great writing and a distinctive voice? Learn what it takes to get the attention of an agent and ultimately a publishing contract. (Emerging-writer level)

Writing a Winning Book Proposal by Bill Jensen – After reviewing thousands of book proposals and participating in publishing committees for a quarter of a century, Bill knows the kind of book proposal it takes to get noticed in the incredibly competitive world of publishing. Let Bill’s knowledge and experience show you how to create a professional book proposal that will be taken seriously by publishers and will survive the dynamics of publishing committees. (Emerging-writer and intermediate levels)

Don’t miss hearing Bill Jensen at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up now!

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Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Alice Crider Asks Questions We All Need to Answer

By Elizabeth Griffin

“I’m planting love, joy, and accomplishment this year. What are you planting?” acquisitions editor Alice Crider wrote in a recent Facebook post.

alice-criderIt’s a potentially life-changing question that this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal may help you answer.

Alice’s accomplishments include studying Communication at Regis University in Colorado, 20 years of work in the publishing industry as an agent and editor, and becoming a certified life coach through Christian Coaching Institute. Equally important and fulfilling achievements have been raising a family she loves to spend time with, organic gardening, hiking, and horseback riding.

Now, the Senior Acquisitions & Development Editor of Books at David C Cook, Alice says she is “excited to be developing books that transform lives.” Her main responsibilities are acquiring women’s nonfiction, Christian living, and spiritual-growth books.

In a blog* that asks the question “Why bother?” when faced with the odds of being published, Alice concluded: If you feel called to write a book, and you don’t do it, you’ll never know what could have been. The world will never know what you have to contribute if you don’t write. So follow your heart . . . Your book may reach the multitudes, or it may bless only a handful of people. Why bother? Because your heart longs to know the difference your words will make in the world.

She then asks another potentially life-changing question: Are you willing to do what it takes to find out what difference you’ll make?

Specific requests for editorial appointments

During editorial appointments at the Renewal, Alice is looking for nonfiction projects that promote discipleship and include transformative content. These include Bible study, devotional, Christian living, marriage, parenting (specifically on parenting Generation Z), grandparenting resources, and small-group resources. She is not looking for fiction, poetry, memoir, YA, children’s books, or coloring books.

Workshops

In addition to her availability at the Renewal as an editor, Alice will also serve on a panel of publishing experts, as well as teach the following workshops:

Finding Your Writers Voice: Most writers are so focused on their message or on writing good sentences that it takes a long time to settle into their unique voice. In this workshop, we’ll explore what voice means and do some exercises to help you discover your own unique expression that will help you stand out as an author and may also help build your platform. Bring paper, pen, and/or your laptop.

Writing Life-Changing Nonfiction: Has your nonfiction manuscript fallen short of the mark required to land a traditional publisher? Have you published or self-published a book that didn’t reach as much of your audience as you intended? In this workshop, we’ll talk about how to reach and engage your audience by tapping into a need they don’t even know they have. We’ll look at the characteristics of best-selling books and how you can use the same techniques. Alice will provide results-based coaching that will help you leap forward in your writing career. Bring your current project and/or new ideas with you.

Don’t miss hearing Alice Crider at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up now!

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*(Read Alice Crider’s entire post, along with others she has written, at the Wordserve Water Cooler blog.)

Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Bill Myers: A Life of Saying Yes to God

By Elizabeth Griffin

Without ever meeting me, Bill Myers caused one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Here’s how it happened:

bill-myersAs a fifth-grade teacher at Maple Valley Christian School, I always searched for good books to read out loud to my class. Bill Myers’ newly published series My Life As … spoke to the angst of nerdy kids everywhere while sliding the truth about life and God and the gospel in with lots of laughter so it was painlessly absorbed. The books were an ideal choice for my class.

Then one day, near the end of My Life as a Smashed Burrito with Extra Hot Sauce, I was reading about the protagonist Wally falling into a perilous river and his counselor rescuing him. At one point the analogy with Christ on the cross was so strong that I burst into tears.

Tears. Not misty tears. Ugly sobbing tears.

Fifth grade boys are merciless. And though they loved me, they laughed out loud when I blubbered. Even as I tried to explain the connection between Wally’s rescue and the cross, they laughed out loud. It was humiliating. Thanks a lot, Bill!

(I still recommend the series. Just read it ahead of time and get your crying out before tackling it in front of a class of kids.)

From dentistry to film and writing

Something that those amazed by Bill’s enormous success may find irksome is the fact that he actually wanted to be a dentist, not a writer. He rarely read as a kid and got Cs and Ds in his one writing class in college.

That just doesn’t seem fair, does it? But one day while studying at the University of Washington, Bill told God he was willing to do anything for Him.

“[God and I] had quite a few arguments, but because I made that promise, I changed my major to film directing and a few weeks later found myself in Rome, Italy, studying a subject I knew nothing about in a language I couldn’t speak. Talk about feeling foolish,” Bill says.

The writing came later. While Bill was directing a play in Los Angeles, a producer asked him to write a television show. “I discovered the power of writing through television and movie scripts, then books,” Bill says.

Besides his studies in film directing in Rome, Bill holds a degree in Theater Arts from the University of Washington and an honorary doctorate from the Theological Institute of Nimes, France, where he taught. He has sold more than 8 million books and DVDs, won more than 70 national and international awards, earned 24 Gold and Platinum ITA awards, published 125 books, and has several motion picture projects in development right now with his production company, Amaris Media International.

If you have kids, you can thank Bill for McGee and Me, Adventures in Odyssey, and several fabulous book series. If you like to read intriguing fiction, you can thank Bill for his adult novels.

Bill has been interviewed for Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, The 700 Club, and TBN, as well as hundreds of broadcast, online, and print organizations.

It’s amazing what God will do when we simply say yes to Him.

Speaking at the conference

At the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Bill will present two keynote messages: “Buckle In: What Happens When You Say Yes,” and “Steps in the Artist’s Call.” He will also serve on a panel of publishing experts and teach the following workshop for writers who are at any level of experience or expertise:

Screenwriting – Learn the basic three-act structure most filmmakers insist upon, as well as character development, plot development, dialogue, comedy, formatting. Time permitting, how to market your material will also be covered.

A hearty recommendation

NCWA member Julie McDonald Zander was impressed with Bill’s content and presentation style when she heard him speak at an Oregon Christian Writers summer coaching conference. Following it, she purchased a few of his books.

“I love the simplicity of the message woven so seamlessly inside the story he unfolds. Sometimes, even years later, I’ve had an image from his novel in my mind, a scene he described in what appeared to be the fires of hell, where people remain in bondage to their fleshly desires,” Julie says. “I wouldn’t pick up a book to read about hell, but I read this quirky novel—speculative fiction, I think—and the image settled in my mind.”

Finding out that Bill is the keynote for NCWA’s Renewal this year, Julie responded, “I may just have to attend.”

You’ll want to attend too. Bill Myers is just too good not to.

Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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elizabeth_griffin2Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

6 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at a Writers Conference

by guest blogger Katelyn S. Bolds, web writer and social media strategist

1.  Bring snacks

Don’t make the mistake of not planning for meals. Have a little snack stashed in your attaché for a slow moment. Don’t let your stomach growl when pitching your book! Bring a granola bar or trail mix as a speedy way to subdue your hunger. Choosing protein and low-sugar options will help keep your energy levels up and prevent you from crashing in the mid-afternoon slump.6-rookie-mistakes

2.  Make goals

Attending a conference with no goals in mind is a complete waste of money. Even if your goal is “find out what my goal should be,” you should still have some in mind.

Make a list of the editors and agents you want to meet with or touch base with. Do your homework and research them online. Try to find out interests, and see if your story would fit well for them. If an agent only works with fiction, don’t try to get them to make an exception for your manuscript.

3.  Avoid burnout

Know what is the right amount of conference for you. When you start to feel overwhelmed, leave the conference. Go outside, take a nap, call your family. Skipping meals or sleep will not impress anyone, but rather give the impression that you are inexperienced and unprofessional. Everyone needs a break after a long conference, but rest assured you can recover.

Read more here about avoiding conference burnout.

4.  Network and connect

Don’t underestimate the power of connections and friendships made at conferences! Use your time between sessions to speak with those around you. Swap struggles and tips with other writers and make sure to get names and e-mails if you feel the connection has potential. Writer friends are important for support, idea generation, and later networking opportunities. Be kind and see where it might lead!

5.  Pitch perfectly

Know your story backwards and forwards. It’s hard to sell a story short and sweet, but shoot for the style of a back cover. Focus on the main plot and emotional draw. In three to five sentences, explain the mass appeal of your work and why the publisher should be interested. Be polite, but don’t waste time chatting about the weather or the conference. The agent or editor is there to hear your pitch.

6.  Follow up and follow through!

Follow up with everyone you spoke with for more than a few minutes. Send them a thank you e-mail referencing interesting conversation points you discussed and tell them it was nice to meet them. This little touch will remind them who you are and set you apart from the crowd.

Follow through with anyone who asked you to send them something. If an editor asks you to tweak your story before sending them your manuscript, don’t let pride or lack of time stand in your way. Send it to them with haste! You may find that they are willing to work with you in the future, knowing how dedicated you are to impressing them.

Now that you know the rookie mistakes to avoid at writers conferences, be sure to sign up for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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katelynsbolds_headshotKatelyn S. Bolds balances work as web editor, author services extraordinaire, and freelance writer. She is married to coffee; also her husband. At times this DIY life might get a little crazy, but she takes it one day at a time. A little yoga, a lot of organization, and a holistic approach make for a Bold Life. Follow her on Twitter, (@KatelynSBolds), Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Doc Hensley Explains the Art of Pitching

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

Dr. Dennis E. Hensley has probably lost count of the number of conferences he’s spoken at over the years. He’s taught workshops, served on panels, presented manuscript makeovers, met personally with conferees, and often served as the keynote speaker. Through it all—and while pitching some of his own 60 published books—he’s learned from his publishing colleagues what impresses editors and agents the most during their appointments with conferees.

DocExplainsPitchingAs director of the Professional Writing department at Taylor University (Upland, IN), Dr. Hensley shares this knowledge with his students, along with readers of his column in Christian Communicator magazine. Now he’s letting Renewal conferees in on the secrets to effective proposal pitches.

The following article is an excerpt from the book Finding Success with Your Dream Writing Projects (by Dennis E. Hensley with Diana Savage), which will be released this August by Bold Vision Books.

MASTERING THE 15-MINUTE BOOK PITCH

Pop artist Andy Warhol once said that every person, sooner or later, enjoys 15 minutes of fame. In the arena of pitching book proposals, it comes down to 15 minutes of fame or 15 minutes of shame. When you attend a writers conference and schedule an appointment with a literary agent or book editor, you have 15 minutes—sometimes less—to convince that person your book is worth considering for publication and that you are someone this individual will want to do business with.

That’s not much time, so let’s talk about how to make those minutes count.

  1. Look professional. Although writers conferences are usually casual in attire, trying to convince someone to invest more than $35,000 to launch your book is big business. You need to look like someone who would appear impressive on talk shows, when giving speeches, and when meeting folks at autograph parties. First impressions are lasting ones.
  2. Have an actual book idea. Some would-be writers come up with a great title and even some clever research, but trained editors can see what would make a good article and what would actually sustain a full book. A published book usually is somewhere around two-hundred pages, with about four hundred words per page, which is 80,000 words. Thus, if you don’t have an idea that can be content heavy for 320 double-spaced manuscript pages, don’t waste the editor’s time.
  3. Know the competition. Anticipate that the agent or editor will ask you what else is on the market similar to your topic. It’s good that other books exist on your topic, because they show that other publishers have seen market value for it. Your job will be to explain how your book is different. Perhaps you have newer research, better photos or other graphics, a broader range of topics, exclusive interviews, distinctive sidebars or reading lists or quizzes. Emphasize how your book is unique and better than the competition. One special insider tip is this: Prove that your book will still be interesting a year from now when it finally gets into print and how it will contain enduring elements that will make it stay in print several years thereafter.
  4. Speak as though this person is a committee. Although you are addressing just one person, he or she will have to champion your book before a publication board. It will be made up of people from sales, publicity, layout and design, marketing, accounting, legal, and editorial departments. As such, explain how you will help to market the book via speaking engagements, blogging, social networking, library appearances, webinars, professional organizations, public readings, writers workshops, reviews, and autograph parties. Don’t give anyone on the board a reason to reject you.
  5. Sell yourself with wild abandon. No one likes a braggart, but when it comes to selling a book, you need to prove that you know what you’re talking about. You can do this by providing a résumé that stresses your education, your list of previous publications, any honors or awards you’ve received, and your professional credentials. Stress the research you conducted in preparing this book manuscript. Additionally, if you can produce a list of endorsements from people with name recognition, this will certainly work in your favor.
  6. Hand over a solid book proposal. Despite the fact that you will have a well-organized, extremely focused conversation with this agent or editor, you still will need to have a high-quality book proposal to leave with this person if he or she decides your book idea warrants publication consideration. Your cover letter will explain why you feel this publisher is right for your book; highlights of your career after age twenty; a terse description of your book (“The Help is about African-American maids who find ways to shame their oppressive suburban white employers during the 1960s”); mention of your best endorsements; and a word about your target readership. You’ll need to have from one to three fully completed chapters, a one-page biography (write about yourself in the third person), a table of contents that you may wish to expand into an outline, a one- or two-page synopsis of the entire book (yes, do tell the ending), and information about your personal platform.
  7. Anticipate blunt objections or questions. Editors may ask if the manuscript is “clean,” meaning void of mechanical writing errors. Say (truthfully) that you’ve had other eyes go over the entire book (professional editors or maybe members of your writers critique group). Editors may ask “Who cares?” about your topic. Have statistics ready, audience surveys, sales records of similar books. The editor may ask, “But who are you?” so have credentials and experience to show you are the perfect person to write and promote this book.

Contrary to common belief, editors come to writers conferences because they want to discover talented writers, and they want to find publishable books. How else can they stay in business? However, their greatest joy is to discover someone who is polished, professional, and savvy about writing and marketing books. This could mean a long-term working relationship. So, when the clock starts ticking, use every second to show that you came prepared to do business.

© 2016 by Dennis E. Hensley, all rights reserved

Learn more valuable tips from Doc Hensley at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up today!

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Children’s Author/Illustrator Shares Secrets to Publishing Success

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

ChristaPierceLast year I received an enthusiastic e-mail from our conference’s retiring program coordinator, Clint Kelly, telling me he’d found another great workshop leader to keep in mind for the 2016 Renewal. As the new director of the conference, I was all ears.

He told me that the candidate was Christa Pierce, a recent Seattle Pacific University grad. Clint said she’d found a top agent and received a contract from Harper-Collins for a two-book deal. He added that she’d accomplished it while still a senior at SPU!

The first book she wrote and illustrated for kids four to eight years old is Do You Know That I Love You? “It’s a charmer,” Clint told me. “I sat in on a session she did at the SPU library, and she is as delightful as her book. A great sense of humor and very open about her experiences, including her work now on book #2 for Harper and why, after she completes that obligation, she will seek out a smaller publishing house.”

Christa, who is from Portland, Oregon, calls herself “a lover of tea and acrylic paint—but not together.” Her BA from SPU is in Illustration, with a Creative Writing minor. Her book has been featured on the Today Show, praised by Brooke Shields, and reviewed by The New York Times.

At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Christa will teach two workshops:

Getting Started in Children's Publishing1) Getting Started in Children’s Publishing – Through her personal story of navigating the publishing world, Christa shares her accumulated knowledge of the industry. Included: helpful writing resources, plus how to find an agent, pitch your ideas, work with an editor, survive the editing process, promote your book, and successfully negotiate a contract. Time for Q&A included.

Secrets to Effective Illustrations for Children’s Books2) Secrets to Effective Illustrations for Children’s Books – Christa shares the “crash course” that trained her in illustrating children’s books when, at the beginning of her career, she interviewed with New York publishers. She will cover world-building, telling a second story through illustrations, deadline expectations, working with an author/designer/editor, layout for publication, and the visual elements that Caldecott-award judges look for. In class, view actual sketchbooks, in-process work, and correspondence between an editor and illustrator. Time for Q&A included.

When she’s not drawing, Christa loves to go to storytelling events, speak to students about the relevancy of the arts, meet other artists, and play with her puppy, Sir Lancelot.

To attend Christa’s workshops or to request an appointment with one of this year’s seven editorial reps, sign up for the Renewal today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Learn Dynamic Dialogue and Business Strategies from Author Darlene Panzera

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

DarlenePanzeraIf you’re passionate about writing and serious about investing the necessary time, money, and effort it takes to improve your skills and get your projects in front of industry professionals, congratulations! You’re the CEO of your own business; it’s up to you to grow that business and keep good records.

In other words, you need a business plan.

Multi-published author Darlene Panzera knows all about business plans for writers, and she will share her knowledge and expertise at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal in the following workshop:

Secure Success with the Right Business PlanSecure Success with the Right Business Plan – As the CEO of your writing career, you need a concise map of what you want to achieve and the steps you’ll need to get there. Learn how to put together a professional business binder that will include an action plan for your writing, a mission statement, business strategy, marketing plans, and detailed pages for tax deductions. Templates are provided so you can walk out the door with your plan in hand.

As the successful author of sweet, fun-loving romances, Darlene will also teach the following workshop:

Bring Your Writing to Life with Dynamic DialogueBring Your Writing to Life with Dynamic Dialogue – No matter what you write—fiction, nonfiction, magazine articles, or even poetry—most likely you will include dialogue in your work. In this class you will learn how to properly construct lines of attention-grabbing, “dynamic” dialogue and how to make those dazzling words work on multiple levels to advance the story, add subtext, reflect point-of-view, flavor the prose with personality, and effectively hook your reader.

“I love writing stories that inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams,” Darlene says.

To meet her and learn from her workshops, sign up for the Renewal today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.