by Tamela Hancock Murray
You really should meet this author! He knows all the best places to dine. I couldn’t believe the fabulous meal we were served at a hole-in-the-wall place I’d never heard of until I made his acquaintance. He has also been quite generous and charming to my family. My husband and my kids have nothing but great things to say about this wonderful author!
In our meetings both in person and on the telephone, he has convinced me that his book will sell millions! And because of his extroverted manner and considerable verve, I believe it really doesn’t matter if his book is any good or not. His platform isn’t anything great yet, but it will be — as soon as he gets paid your hefty advance so he can travel the country, taking meetings. In fact, he wants to meet with you at your early convenience. Can you fly out to meet him in Charlotte on Tuesday morning?
Of course I would never send this letter like it to any editor, but on more than one occasion, I have found that this is how authors seem to think marketing to editors works. When any author insists on pitching to me over the phone or meeting me in person other than at a writers conference, I have found too often that these authors want to use their force of personality to sell their book. After all, it’s hard to turn someone down in person. Now the author’s personality is crucial if he or she already has a large speaking ministry, especially for non-fiction. But I’m not talking about a household name here, I’m referring to much greener authors.
The fact is that authors communicate one way: through words on the page. While e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook have changed the landscape as to how we consume the printed word, the fact remains that writers are still communicating this way, not in person over lunch. No editor cares how often I’ve had a meal with an author, if the author is my best friend, or even if the author is barely speaking to me. The editor cares about the author’s book. Is the author able to convey timeless truths in nonfiction or a compelling story in a novel? The words are what readers will see and how they will judge an author. An amazing personality and speaking ability is a bonus (sometimes termed as “media-ready”) but it only goes so far.
Bottom line: If you feel compelled to pitch your book in person or on the telephone and that is the only way you feel you can get your point across, I recommend that you take a long, hard look at your manuscript. Learn to convey your excitement in your written words. When you do, you will be well on your way to becoming published.