Tag s | book proposals

Yes, It’s Personal

We’d all like to think everyone will love all our books. But it just won’t happen. It’s personal, and that’s okay.

Based on past posts, regular followers of this blog might conclude that I don’t like any book I start. That’s not true, but I’ll admit I’ve ditched a couple more books lately. One is a classic, but I didn’t like spending time with a protagonist mixing copious amounts of drink and drugs. Despite his appearance in a book, by page 80 I can tell he’s no fun at all. The second is a general market suspense novel by a bestselling author. As a lover of the genre, I’m the author’s natural audience. Yet after reading over 130 pages, I don’t care about the outcome. The author’s fans would disagree since this series is into well over 40 books. But there you have it – one reader’s opinion. I wish the author well. The other author died long ago.

But let’s talk about your book. Sometimes it’s personal when an editor declines a manuscript. Why? Because even though you’ve read many books in the genre and have targeted that house, for some reason, your work didn’t resonate with him. Does this mean you’re inept? Not necessarily. Your book just didn’t hit the mark with that particular person.

How to fix this?

You can, and you can’t. Your agent might submit different books from you to the same editor, but your work never makes it into the acceptance stack. The disconnect may lie with the work itself, or the list is too full with similar authors, or she doesn’t think she’ll get it through committee. Or some other reason no one will ever know.

Cast the net wide

Your hope is to write the best book you can for the most extensive target market you can. When your book is a strong possibility for a number of editors, chances of success are higher than if you go too narrow.

Write something better!

But what if it still doesn’t sell? Don’t cling to a lone book as though it’s the last life raft floating past the Titanic. No time you’ve spent writing is wasted. UNLESS you keep pitching. And pitching. And pitching the same book that never sells no matter which agent or editor you approach. Please, for everyone’s sake, write something else.

You know those lime green trousers hanging in your closet that you wore only once? And you paid $250 for them? Yes, those, or maybe in your case it’s a sunflower-patterned orange blouse you bought at a yard sale for $2. Anyway, the trousers seemed like a good idea when you bought them. Lime green was the IN color that year, and they looked smashing. But they no longer work. And now you hold on to them because you don’t want to “throw away” the $250 you spent on them. I hate to break it to you, but you will never get your money back.

The trousers are just like your book that won’t sell after years of trying. Except at least you’ve learned from writing your book. So place it lovingly in a special file on your computer and say not “goodbye” but “’till we meet again” to it. It will always be there, ready to be revised later, if you like.

But for today? Keep writing. Do what works for your life now.

Your turn

How many books have you written?

If you are published, how many books did you write before you were published?

What would you say to encourage writers today?

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What Makes a Great Hook?

Lately, smart publishing professionals have been saying “it needs a great hook” to describe  books they seek. Recently I wrote about the all-important first page, which of course should seize the reader and not let go. However, that’s not the same as the story hook itself. The hook must make …

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Send Simultaneous Submissions or Not?

Bryan Mitchell asked, “What is the max number of submissions you should send at a given time? I’ve heard ten but that sounds off; to me, it seems it should be less than that if you are carefully considering the agents you reach out to.” When approaching agents I encourage …

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Books are Sold with Proposals

If you think about it, the first step leading to the eventual sale of any book begins with grabbing someone’s attention with a short description of the book content. The proposal or short description motivates the agent, publisher, book retailer or reader to take the next step, which is different …

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Make Me Jump off the Fence

So, when querying me, maybe you followed my guidelines, submitted an appropriate manuscript, and your work has much to recommend itself. So why am I not getting back to you right away? Am I ignoring you? I’m sure it feels that way, and I’m sorry. What has probably happened is …

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Where Do You Find New Clients?

“As an agent, what percentage of your new clients come from meetings at conferences vs. general email or postal proposals? Can you address the importance of conferences?” Thanks to Scott for the question. It is a good one. Another way to frame it is “Where do you find new clients? …

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When Proposing a Series of Novels

“Are today’s publishers more interested in an individual novel or a trilogy? Also, when submitting a proposal for the completed first novel in a planned trilogy, is it better to focus on the first novel or give an overview of the complete trilogy? Is there an upper limit to how …

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