It’s that time of the year again. The editors are back at their desks, the literary agents are running with new book proposals, and the writers are writing again—as the summer break is over, and everyone has new “pep” to their steps.
Here’s my kind reminder of the benefits of good research. Good research = saved time, saved money, and a better experience in the publishing world. Good research results in YOU the writer experiencing less frustration, less expenditures, and having a good “go” when attempting to get your book published.
You can accomplish this through reference to good resources, such as The Writer’s Market, Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents, and/or Publisher’s Marketplace. It’s also good to know when an idea is truly commercial, by simply visiting the bookstore and your local library. See what the book’s competition is, as it always exists—never assume otherwise.
Last, but not least, before you send out that first query, make sure the person(s) receiving it truly wants that type of query. One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make is sending his/her book idea to someone who doesn’t actively seek books in that category.
My goal is for YOU the writer to get closer to the overall goal of getting published. It’s the best money and time you’ll save.
Yet again I see a trend in queries for the agency. It’s the clear fact that folks DON’T read my specific query requests and submission standards. I’m not actually asking for anything over-the-top. I’m simply asking that folks follow very basic query standards in the publishing industry, thereby saving themselves time and money.
Please, please, please remember to investigate what an agent is specifically looking for. In summary, if we aren’t looking for books representative of your writing categories, it’s better to save on the postage sending us your book ideas. Wouldn’t you prefer to be well-matched with agents who actually want to represent your specific book categories? That’s all I’m saying.
Recently, I returned from the SDSU Writer’s Conference, which was a wonderful experience. Having never attended this particular conference, I didn’t know what to expect, with the exception of much warmer weather than Minnesota.
After these conferences, I not only look at my experience, but the experiences of the writers. At almost all of these conferences now, authors make (and pay for) consultation appointments with the editors and agents. It’s a highly beneficial aspect of the conference(s), I want you to get the best value for your money.
Here is a list for your preparation before these 10-15 minute appointments.
1. Research the editors and agents before setting up the appointments. There’s nothing more painful than realizing that the author I’m meeting with doesn’t write within the categories I represent. Yet, I’m the eternal optimist, and will always try my best to give good advice and encouragement when this type of situation arises. If you have experienced this, make sure to know who you’re meeting with beforehand. If you’re new to the writer’s conference world, I encourage you to implement this action from the start.
2. Have fun with your sales pitch. Remember you have 10-15 minutes. There is no time for a full, drawn-out synopsis of your book idea. In addition, avoid having the editor or read material while you sit there. Instead, ask questions, pick our brains, take advantage of our industry knowledge.
3. Have your book proposal written and available. It saves on the snail mail costs, and allows the editor or agent time to look at it after the conference ends.
4. Don’t be nervous. I’ve repeated this many times, there’s no need to fret about conversing with me (or any other individual in publishing). Working in publishing requires a little creativity, some people skills, and a go-getter attitude. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, most folks who work with writers are some of the most approachable, down-to-earth folks.
I hope this helps for those future conferences. Not only does it result in a proactive step toward getting published, but it’s an opportunity to form close connections with the many creative people working in publishing.