If you reached this page by searching for my name on Google …

… you’re most likely looking for my business, Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services. I do all my freelance journalism, writing services, social media strategy, and communications consulting via Shari’s Ink. Please head over there now for my portfolio, contact information, and available services.

This site, ShariLopatin.com, is my official writer’s page and personal blog. Thank you for your interest!

Literary Agent Tip #1: DO YOUR RESEARCH

Hand Holding Pen

I’ve pitched about 10 literary agents, as of today. Ten. Literary agents.

They include the reps for Gillian Flynn, Stephenie Meyer (we both live in Phoenix!), John Green, Dan Brown, and James Dashner.

Prepare the automated rejections!

But seriously, these folks are top, top grade agents. And why not start with the best? Which leads me to the first lesson I learned upon my quest for a book deal:

Do your literary agent research BEFORE finishing your book!

DISCLAIMER: I don’t consider my book complete until finishing the first draft and editing it. Therefore, I ended my book, stepped away for a month, then started the editing/rewriting process.

It was during this month—between finishing the draft and editing—that I began my literary agent research. And here’s how I did it:

  1. Decided the genre which best described my book
  2. Deciphered the audience (YA, new adult, middle grade, adult fiction, etc.)
  3. Brainstormed which published books were similar to mine
  4. Googled their authors’ names with the term “literary agent” (i.e. John Green literary agent)
  5. Got the agent’s name and visited his/her website

Then, I created an Excel spreadsheet.

I used to work as a public relations professional in corporate communications. Whenever we were preparing a splash, we always developed a list of target reporters, their beats, and their contact information … all wrapped with a bow in an Excel spreadsheet.

We separated these reporters into “tiers:”

  • Tier one consisted of reporters who covered stories most aligned with our pitch. They also had the largest reach, or influence.
  • Tier two expanded further out, and included reporters who worked for community publications with a smaller reach.
  • And so on …

As I began compiling my list of literary agents, I did the same thing, preparing everything in Excel. My thought was this: once editing is complete, I’ll have a list of top tier, and second tier, literary agents to begin pitching.

And now that I’ve reached the moment of truth, I can tell you … this works, kid!

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Shari Lopatin is a professional writer, editor, and social media strategist who lives in Phoenix, Ariz. She recently finished her first novel and blogs about the lessons she learns while finding a literary agent, among other topics. Want to follow Shari’s progress toward a book deal? Then join The Readers Club! Sign up here.

I’m Back! And Writing About the Literary Agent Hunt

I know, I know … it’s been a year. However, I am officially back and re-launching this Rogue Writer blog. How have you all been?

I’ve redesigned the entire website (if you’re reading this in email, head on over there now, and check it out). I feel chic and sleek. The site is very Feng Shui. Seriously. It’s the new trend online; haven’t you heard?

Anyway, with this re-launch, I have new goals in mind, which means I’ll be writing about some different things. For one, I FINISHED MY FIRST NOVEL! For two, I quit my corporate job to re-launch my freelance writing business, Shari’s Ink.

With these things in mind, here’s what you can expect from Rogue Writer:

  1. Lessons on how to find a literary agent and pitch your book (based off my experiences as I go)
  2. Updates on the publishing industry
  3. Social media and tech trends
  4. Weird, random observations (just like before)

Is there anything else you’d like to hear about from my newly launched blog? Please COMMENT and share!

Any Literary Agent Recommendations?

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile … what, a year? … yeah, a loooong while. OK, anyway, I’m excited to announce that I finished my first novel!

Finishing my book MEME

If you’ve ever written a book, then you TOTALLY get this feeling of lunacy. Not only have I finished writing it, but as of today, I’m only 30 PAGES AWAY from finishing my first round of serious edits. Once that’s complete, it’s literary agent time, baby!

I’ve already done some research and developed a full Excel spreadsheet, but I’m writing today to ask YOU something: do you have any recommendations?

My novel is a dystopian new adult fiction book. It crosses the genres of science fiction, thriller/suspense, and general fiction, in the same way as George Orwell’s “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” If you know of any literary agents seeking these types of work, and you trust them, I’d love your recommendation. Please comment below!

Thanks for your help, ladies and gentlemen.

The Toilet Talker

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You know you’ve met one. Perhaps you’ve never seen their face. Or known their name. But … you know you’ve met one.

The dreaded toilet talker.

I’ll give you a hint. This species of human being usually reveals its hidden nature within the confines of a public bathroom. Inside a stall. RIGHT NEXT TO YOU … as you’re taking a tinkle … or even worse …

That’s right. The toilet talker knows no shame. The toilet talker understands no boundary. This individual sits there, his or her thighs pressed neatly against cool, white porcelain, and blabs on a cell phone while urine rains into the pool of water waiting so patiently below. The toilet talker’s victims are many, from the unfortunate spouse or friend or parent on the other end of the cell phone, to the sisters quickly and quietly washing their hands in the sink–to YOU–sitting there benevolently in the neighboring stall, listening to a stranger’s thoughts on Russian/American relations in Crimea and wincing each time a spat of flatulence slips between their words.

You feel embarrassed for them, but also for you. Because suddenly you know that their 6-year-old son’s rash might be the chicken pox, and their boss reemed them for not meeting that quarterly deadline.

Probably because you spent too dang long in the bathroom, you think. And suddenly, you come to realize that this person has given a whole new meaning to the term, “TMI.”

Yes, this is the toilet talker. I’m sure you’ve met one. Care to tell?

Yea, I’ve been taking a blogging break

If you’ve been expecting new posts from me, sorry to disappoint, y’all.

But I promise, I’m not sitting around at night picking my nose (although, that does sound appealing … in a lazy, non-conformist kind of rebellion sorta way).

Naw. I just decided that, for the time being, blogging is going to take a backseat to REAL novel-writing. Because between Zumba, my NEW JOB (you may now congratulate me by kissing my toes), trying to eat like a dignified human being, and feeding the two minions which live under my roof (a.k.a. my cats) … I only have so much free time in the day.

And really, that time gets split between my family and my writing. And rather than writing my blogs, I’m writing my novel.

So I hope you understand. I’m not sure if I’ll be gone for a month, or a year. I may publish an occasional post to keep my funny gene stimulated. But if you stay subscribed via email, I promise to let you know when I finish my first novel! If you even care …

In the meantime, thank you ALL for the wonderful awesomeness you have bestowed upon me these past couple of years. From gold-pooping bacteria and chicken nuggets in a frozen bag of veggies, to my Jewish cat who’s mastered the art of guilt … we’ve had a blast!

 

My FIRST Published (Creative) Story! ‘A Call from Paris’

eFiction cover

 

[ Read “A Call from Paris” now!]

As of June this year, I am no longer some used, discarded toilet paper in the creative writing world. That’s right …

I’M PUBLISHED!

I know I’ve been published as a journalist before, but never as a creative writer. As an author. I kinda feel like Moses right now, after he descended from Mount Sinai, beaming with holy rays of light from his ears.

Of course, minus the white beard (or am I merely thinking of Charlton Heston?).

Anyway, I digress …

I was published in the June 2013 edition of an e-publication called, “eFiction.”

And my story is proudly entitled, “A Call from Paris.”

And yes! I made it possible for you to read! I printed just my story, then scanned it into a document.

Read ‘A Call from Paris’ Here!!

But be forewarned, my snarky, snide attitude does not carry over into this story. My creative works tend to be a little more serious.

I also urge you to consider purchasing the FULL June 2013 eFiction edition, which can be read on your Kindle or Nook. You can buy it here. It’s only $3.99, and you’ll read works from the other amazing authors who were also published with me. Plus, if you buy, we get royalties. :) And who doesn’t want to support their fellow writers?

So please read my story, if you’re so inclined to make me feel welcomed into the world of publishing, share it with your friends, and then comment below and tell me your thoughts! You’re my first readers, so your thoughts mean a lot to me.

Penguin Random House Merger Helps Author Solutions Exploit Writers

Shari Lopatin:

OK, so I haven’t written about the publishing industry on here in awhile, but this was just too dang good–and important. I know many of you who follow me are also professional writers, some indie writers. So please take a moment and read this. It opened my eyes! And knowledge is power, people.

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

ASIPRHPenguin and Random House officially merged on July 1 creating the largest trade publisher in the world. This merger has given fresh impetus to one of their subsidiaries to scam unsuspecting writers – Author Solutions, the largest vanity press in the world.

One of my blog readers, who will remain nameless, has forwarded me emails from an AuthorHouse sales rep touting that company as the “self-publishing wing” of Penguin Random House (AuthorHouse is one of the many brands of Author Solutions, a tangled web which is deconstructed here).

When Penguin purchased Author Solutions in July 2012 for $116m, I warned that the Penguin brand would lend legitimacy to Author Solutions – who were already the market leader in author exploitation.

Defenders of the deal claimed that Penguin would clean up Author Solutions – a universally reviled vanity press which has been slammed by every watchdog in the business…

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What do the monsoons have against me?

Seriously, I want to know. Because a few days ago, it reached 120 DEGREES here in the deserts of Phoenix, Ariz.

No rain yet, just apocalyptic dust storms. Not even a little tease of lightning. C’mon, monsoons!

Oh yeah … and there’s a black widow living in my garage.

I think God is taking out His frustration on me for not updating Rogue Writer in nearly a month (sorry, y’all). Or if not Him, then the monsoons are holding some preconceived, spiteful grudge. Who knows …  it could be the water I left running in my front yard for TWO DAYS (by accident) last week.

But on another, more serious note …

Whilst talking about monsoons and a hellish drought, I can’t help but also mention the 19 incredibly brave firefighters who died this past week, here in Arizona. Did you hear about them?

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They were the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, fighting that aggressive wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. It burned nearly half the town, about 200 homes. The Granite Mountain Hotshots were all from Prescott, Ariz: my old stomping ground.

See, I got my start working for The Daily Courier newspaper up there, as a lead education reporter. I also backed up on crime, courts, and the fire department. When I heard what happened, my heart sank, and I felt sick.

Most of these men were in their twenties, a few in their thirties, and one or two in their forties. I want to take a moment to recognize them, thank them for their brave service, and send my deepest condolences to their families.

Prescott firefighters

Support the Surviving Families

Here is a Facebook post, taken directly from the “In Memory of Prescott Firefighters Lost 6/30/2013” Facebook page:

The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, together with the Prescott Fire Fighters Charities, have established a 501(c)3 relief fund at any Chase bank. Ask for the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Account set up to benefit fire fighters killed in the Yarnell fire.

Every penny of your tax deductible contribution will go directly to the families.

Additionally, donations can be made through the 100 Club or the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

May you RIP, Hotshots.

What would you do, if you lost EVERYTHING?

diceSo usually, you hear people ask, “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

Well … duh … that’s kinda easy.

But how often do you hear someone ask, “What would you do, if you lost everything?”

By this, I mean your house, your job, your car, even your marriage. I’m not a complete sadist, so I’ll spare you your loved ones and pets.

Besides having a panic attack, perhaps you’re not too sure how to answer. Well…

I can tell you what J.K. Rowling did.

According to Wikipedia (and rumors I’ve heard from others who saw her speak), Rowling considered herself a large failure seven years after graduating from college. Her marriage had failed, and she was jobless with a child. Yet, she said the following—as cited in Wikipedia from The Fringe Benefits of Failure, 2008:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me [Harry Potter].”

This has been on my mind lately.

I won’t lie. In fact, I’ll be completely truthful. I’ve been a little quieter on this blog, because I’m in a career transition. I lost my job of more than five years after the company I worked for lost a major federal contract. It wasn’t just my job affected, but hundreds of others, too.

So now, using everything I have, I’ve launched my new business, “Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services.” And I’m writing a novel that burns inside my soul.

I have a house. I have a life. And I keep asking myself, what would I do, should I lose it all?

Maybe I could become the next J.K. Rowling.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?