Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Your Genre Choice May Limit Your Chances Of Being Published

If you are an author struggling to find a place to get published, it might all be coming down to your genre selection. Yes, we want you to write what you like and feel a connection to, but that might be the thing standing in your way.

If, for example, you write stories that are on the smaller size, say 50-60 K in word count, you have single handedly eliminated all of the larger publishers who are looking for the larger single title houses. Now you are down to the publishers who do series or potentially digital only. If this is not something your genre fits with, then you are simply out of luck.

If you write inspirational romance, and it is pretty hard core inspirational romance, you have now limited yourself to obviously publishers who do this. Please understand, that these publishers often have a smaller number of books they produce each year because they simply do not have the extensive bookstores to send the books to.

I write poetry so you can fully understand that market is VERY limited.

Write short stories? You are limited to magazines and selling those on a story by story basis.

We see the same thing right now with the LGBTQ movement and authors. I want you to understand that it is not that the publishers are discriminating against these authors or this genre. It is simply an issue of supply and demand. It might seem like there are a  lot of people who would want to buy the books, but if the demand really is not that real, then publishers are simply not going to invest in the writing.

I have heard this one a lot with women's fiction. "You know the quilting movement is really making a comeback and there are a huge number of women who would buy my women's fiction novel because it has quilting as a key element." Um, not necessarily. Just because they quilt does not mean they read quilting fiction. Just because there are quilting stores does not mean they will carry a full line of quilting fiction books.

Just something to think about.

Monday, May 25, 2020

It's Not As Easy As You Think

Today's post is going out to those of you still in search of that first publishing contact, although it will likely work with those of you who are just starting out in the publishing industry.

Getting a book published is not an easy process. I know, I am being Captain Obvious here, but this goes far deeper than simply the process of writing a book and submitting it. The things your book has to go through just to get to the bookshelf involves a lot more than you think. I do personally believe that the world of self-publishing has created this misinformation and myth that going from your manuscript to a completed book is just as easy as a Kindle Digital Press upload. I would also add that many of the people in the self-publishing field who argue the ease and speed of getting things published are leaving out a few details.

Let me explain it this way. If you are like my wife, she loves watching HGTV and all of the home make over programs. Drew & Jonathon, or Tarek and Christina, in a simple 30 minute episode can make a $150,000 profit just like that! Of course publishing is just that easy.

Ummmm, NOT!

Those HGTV shows are leaving off the fact that this process started easily 6 months before since they needed to get all of those permits to do the work. They leave off the fact that they have entire teams doing work that a regular person would have to do on their own. They leave off the costs of things the television show is picking up for marketing purposes. They leave off the fact that the beautifully staged home is taken down after the taping and you don't get to keep any of it, unless you wish to purchase it from them (go and check Magnolia Prices).

There are so many variables that new authors completely forget about when it comes to getting their book published. And note, these variables are not just things with your book, but things the editorial team on the other end have to work through as well.

I just completed a 5 book deal with one of my authors. When we first started talking, it was looking like there was going to be a gap between a couple of books. For this author, we just did not want to do that. We have found that the closer the release dates, the better sales are all around! Now, on the surface, it is easy to simply say we want a different schedule, but then the variables come into play.
  • How many other authors have books that need to be released?
  • Are there authors with higher priority?
  • Is there space in the line-up?
What seems like an easy solution just does not become that easy.

Consider getting feedback from editors and agents on your submissions... You wrote the book and your critique partners were easily able to get back to you with extensive notes on things that needed to get changed in a single weekend. Why does it take 3+ months to hear back from those editors and agents?
  • They are working with their established clients
  • They are meeting with marketing teams and art departments
  • They are (or were until Covid) attending workshops/conferences that you invited them to
  • They are judging contests that you invited them to.
  • They too have a life and a family
I want you to understand that in no way do I want this to sound like I am making an excuse. I just want you to think of all those "other pieces" that will slow down what you think is a relatively easy process. 

Just a reality check for a Monday!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Book Publishing Is Not Going Away - It's Just Tougher

I love getting emails from editors telling us of all the great new projects they are developing. I also love it when I see the phrase "And yes, we are still acquiring!' This is great news. Despite all of the doom and gloom out there in the world today (I still cannot get Hershey Bars in my grocery delivery), knowing publishers are acquitting is a big positive.

Don't give up hope authors!

But now here comes the twist, and you knew there would be one.

Getting those coveted positions with editors and agents will be a lot tougher. Sure, they are acquiring and yes, they want to see books, but like the period of time back in 2008, they are going to be extra particular for what they want to see. Mediocre writing is just not going to cut it. If you are hoping to sign on with writing that is average in the hopes to get the guidance, it is not going to happen.

You need to be good.
Your writing needs to be strong.
Your premise needs to be incredible.

So, what does this mean for writers? If you are a beginner, you need to make sure you really know your stuff. This means it might be worth it to spend a bit more time learning the craft and better preparing yourself for a writing career. I know, it means more time, but it will be well worth it in the end.

Monday, May 11, 2020

What Works For One May Not Work For Another

I was thinking about this idea today and had planned on just writing about submissions, but I think I will extend on this and also talk about approaches to writing. Basically, you get a 2 for 1 special today!

Let's start with submissions.

This is something that I find myself putting into a lot of rejections letters to authors. I simply say that even the story did not work for me, there is not reason why it might not work for someone else. This is so true. I know I have seen projects that I thought were not that impressive or simply did not connect with me, and then later, I see that project taking off with another agent. Why does this happen? It is that subjective nature of this business. As editors and agents, we all have different tastes in what we like and what we don't like. This is not an issue of the writer having to do something different to make the story "better." This is all about finding that right person at the right time.

So, don't panic if you get a rejection letter (unless of course we have said your writing is a big piece of garbage and we hate you). Just think that this might be a good time to sit down, do some more research, and find the right place for your story.

Now, let's focus on the writing part of this statement.

I get really frustrated when I see workshops or posts by "specialists" who claim their approach is a guarantee for getting your story published. We see this all of the time. "If you do your query this way, it is a certainty editors will take your story in a heartbeat." Look, if you believe this, I have this great tonic that cures everything from the common cold to sore backs. We call that snake oil!

When it comes to writing, an approach, a plot device, a certain structural approach to a story may work for one author, but not for another author. The same goes for each of your own stories. The concept and the plot of your story dictates what is going to work and what will not work.

I am reminded of two students I had in class many years ago. These two were inseparable. But when it came to doing work, they each had to do things differently. It took a while for them to figure it out. One kid could do math entirely in his head. No need for scratch paper or anything. The kids was just good at math. His friend however, kept trying to take the same approach and was always doing poorly. For him, he had to find out that using scratch paper and doing things the longer way was his approach.

For me, I have a particular way I like to approach writing stories or writing query letters or even a synopsis. It works for me. So, when I get on the blog here and make recommendations, this is just one approach. It may or may not work for you. What I can say is to give it a try. It might not work for you at first, or maybe it doesn't work for that project. But if your approach is not working, it might be time to try something new.

Just remember, that are multiple paths you can take to the same result.