Author Spotlight #4: Christopher Kokoski

It’s Author Spotlight time! If you want to know more about how the series got started, go check out the introduction post.

Today the spotlight is on Christopher Kokoski, author, speaker, and national trainer. You know I’m not really a fan of long introductions, so let’s jump right in.

Book banner for Christopher Kokoski

Let’s start with the most important. What’s your most recent/next book, and where can we go to learn more about it and you?

First, thank you for inviting me for an author spotlight. I write both fiction and nonfiction but my newest project is a how-to book for writers called Query Letter Swipe File: Exact Words, Phrases and Templates to Write Query Letters, Get Literary Agents and Publish Books for Life.

I think the title does a pretty good job of describing the book, though I’d add that the book is the result of 20+ years of intense study to excavate the forces, tactics and language that drives literary agent acceptance. It’s been described as “Mad Libs for agented authors”.

The Query Letter Swipe File will go on preorder on September 23, 2017 with a ton of limited time bonuses (Synopsis Swipe File, Author Bio Swipe File, Online Marketing Swipe File, Nonfiction Query Letter Swipe File, Author Website Swipe File, Book Review Request Swipe File and more! See all the bonuses here). If you don’t care about all the bonuses, the book will also be on free promotion in early October. You can learn more about me, my books and get a free chapter of the Query Letter Swipe File at christopherkokoski.com.

Do you have a favorite book/story among the one’s you’ve written? Why is it so special to you?

Since I write both fiction and nonfiction, I’m going to cheat. While I love all my novels, Wicker Hollow is probably my current favorite. I love the rich story world and unusual cast of characters (including the fallen angel who changes significantly over the course of the story).

The Query Letter Swipe File is my favorite nonfiction since I believe it has the capacity to be a game changer for so many writers who struggle with query letters. I love helping other writers fulfill their dreams. That’s why I’ve written over a hundred query letters for other authors in the last six months using the book. The book works and I can’t wait to share it with others when it releases in September.

It’s actually the first in a nonfiction trilogy (if those exist) about getting agented. The second, Agent Magnets: 7 Psychological Forces that Drive Rapid Agent Acceptance, should be out by year’s end and the third, Pitch Craft: How To Get An Agent With Your Very First Query Letter, in early 2018. Signing up for my newsletter – Writing Secrets – via my website is by far the best way to keep up to date on when these books will be available.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in researching your book(s)?

Query Letter Swipe File CoverAwesome question. I’m going to “cheat” again by sharing the most surprising thing I learned from while researching my trilogy of nonfiction books (since I researched them all at the same time).

  • Query Letter Swipe File: I learned that there are patterns of words, phrases and templates for the most successful letters (success = more requests for partials, full manuscripts and offers of representation). The book is 121 pages of every word, phrase and template for fiction that I found in 20 years.
  • Agent Magnets: What surprised me most is how much these drives impact agent decisions behind the scenes – nearly all of them without the agent’s awareness. It’s mindboggling!
  • Pitch Craft: I was shocked when I learned that there were 6 different structures to successful query letters (instead of only one that I kept hearing from all the “experts” and over 40 techniques to write the perfect pitch. Again, I’ve studied queries forever and hadn’t heard of most of them. I have no idea why this information isn’t already out there (I sure could have used it years ago – so I’m finally going to even the playing field for all authors). For example, I discovered what I call the First 50 technique. In short, it means that a great pitch usually only covers the first 50 pages of your novel. Why? Because that’s when the inciting event happens, the main goals and conflicts are set up and the main characters are introduced. Most information beyond the first 50 pages is overkill in a query. There are no hard-and-fast “rules” but this is a helpful guideline. So when writing your query letter, focus on describing ONLY what happens in those first 50 pages. That’s just ONE of the techniques and patterns I found. There are so many more.

Would you rather be invisible, or able to read minds?

Read minds for sure! I want to meet the person who would rather be invisible. Although invisibility would be cool, I think reading minds has much more potential. Why? I think I could make a boatload of money while also doing a whole lot of good in the world.

What is one question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview?

I love this question. Ok, here we go: What’s the biggest thing you have ever lost? Things, actually, as in plural. I once lost two full-sized cars. I drove both of them, parked both of them and subsequently lost BOTH of them. The story behind it is long and embarrassing, so here’s the conclusion: whatever you do, DON’T lend me your cars – but definitely DO read my books! 🙂

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If you want to know more about Christopher Kokoski, make sure to check out his website. If you’re interested in his upcoming book, make sure to sign up for his newsletter.

Have you read any of his books before? What do you think of them? Are you looking forward for his nonfiction trilogy? Leave a comment below. If you’d like the spotlight turned on you, send me a message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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