Bits and Pieces

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: Will you tell my writing group if there is a better way to punctuate the following?
“Oh. Right. I remember.”

A: If the purpose of the line is to show that the speaker pauses after each of the first two words, then use “Oh. Right. I remember.”

It could also be written as “Oh, right. I remember,” if the author does not want a pause after “Oh.”

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Query Letters for Agents, Book Publishers, and Magazines

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: Is there a secret to writing a good query letter to an agent or a book publisher?

A: I would not call it a secret, but a formula. The letter must have specific elements in it and not be more than one page long. For an excellent example of a query letter, see Continue reading

Following Your Passion

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: Is there anything wrong with incorporating real live events that have happened to me in a nonfiction love story? Is this a stupid question?

A: A question is a question, without any qualifying terms. If you don’t know the answer, it’s not a stupid question. We all start somewhere, and we will go nowhere if we don’t ask questions, get answers, and keep learning.

First, though, I think there may be some confusion between fiction and nonfiction. Nonfiction reports actual events, so incorporating real events in nonfiction would be expected. Continue reading

Monologues, Dialogue, and Characters

book doctor 2015by Bobbie Christmas

Q: I have written a novel that could be described as conversational style. There are large blocks of text in which one of my characters is telling the story of her life to someone. I am having a little trouble finding information that explains how to use punctuation marks in this type of writing. Any suggestions?

A: Without seeing the manuscript, I’ll take a stab at the answer. Continue reading

Amazon Payments, Bad Reviews, Paragraph Indents, and Ph.D.

bookdoctorby Bobbie Christmas

Q: I listed my book on Amazon. As you know, they charge a fee, which they take out of the money due to you from sales. I also went on their “search inside the book” promotion, which meant I had to ship another book to Xerox Corp. Amazon told me it had two sales, and I shipped two more books. As time went on, I realized that I would keep shipping books and never see any money, because the fees would eat up any sales money, so I asked Amazon to withdraw my membership and remove my listing. Its response was to remove the $8.50 price of the book and list “one new and one used at $1.95” and a negative (one-star) review by one person. I protested and even phoned Amazon, but to no avail. The person at Amazon said “someone” put my book for sale at that price and “someone” posted the negative review and that it would stay on permanently. Have I any recourse? Continue reading

Nonfiction Book Proposals

bookdoctorby Bobbie Christmas

Q: I want to sell my nonfiction book to a specific publisher that requires a proposal. How much is enough to send in a proposal?

A: How much is enough? It depends on what the publisher’s guidelines specify. If the publisher does not list guidelines, then follow the traditional route for preparing a book proposal. Because entire books are written on how to write a book proposal, one short note from me won’t be enough. That said, I found a blog that has a terse report, as well as recommendations for books on the subject of book proposals. Click here to read blog. Continue reading

Creating and Submitting to Anthologies

bookdoctorby Bobbie Christmas

Q: My writing organization is preparing an anthology. Would standard manuscript format apply? We are unsure of individual submission formats at this point. Please advise.

A: Standard manuscript format applies when submitting a manuscript to an agent or a publisher. If you are going to self-publish the anthology, you may set the format any way you would like, but if an editor is going to edit the submissions, which I strongly advise, you would do well to ask for submissions in standard manuscript format, which does several things. It gets writers in the habit of using standard manuscript format; it is easy to read; and it gives an editor room to work. If you are unfamiliar with standard manuscript format, go to and click on Tools for Writers. There you will find many free reports, including one that explains standard manuscript format. Continue reading