Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just keep marketing it?

What are people thinking? I have heard this comment time and time again and I really wonder who has been feeding these filthy little lies.

You have sent your manuscript out to a ton of editors and agents and gotten rejections, and yet you are told to keep marketing it? Nooooooo! This is a message to you that you need to change course and try something new.

I am sure you have heard that joke about the guy that is caught in the middle of a huge flood? Somehow he has made it to the roof of his garage and his hunkered down waiting for help. The rain is still coming down and the wind is really whipping him a round. Suddenly he looks down and sees a guy in a row boat come by and offer to help. The guy yells down and says he is waiting for God to save him.

A little while later another boat comes by and he does the same thing. He says he is waiting for God to save him.

Again it happens and again he passes with the same excuse.

Finally, the elements are too much, he falls off the roof, into the flood and dies.

As he is standing in front of the Pearly Gates he asks God. What happened? He had faith in him.

God's only response is "You are an idiot. I sent you three life boats. What type of message do you really need?"

Now, the same thing applies to your writing. Just sending out that manuscript to a ton of places is not necessarily going to get your manuscript sold. Your manuscript only belongs at certain houses. Your voice only fits with certain places. And yes, your manuscript might not be good. That means you have to keep trying with ANOTHER manuscript.

Quit wasting your time on the same story. Move on.



  1. Good points, Scott. As far as why the 'just keep marketing it' advice spreads, I think there is some confusion between being persistent and being realistic.

    We as writers are told, time and time again, to keep plugging away. That rejections are only more no's on the way to a yes. Confusion arises when we continue to backpeddle and submit (or rehash) the same manuscript over and over.

    Jessica Faust gave some great advice recently. She said write the next book while marketing the one you just wrote. Then market the next one as you write your next. In other words, don't put all your eggs in one basket and keep moving forward so you learn more about the writing craft, process, what works best for you, etc.

    Great post; I just found your blog recently, and remember you were incredibly generous at writing articles for our chapter newsletter, Georgia Romance Writers: The Galley.

    Thanks again,
    Elaine Burroughs

  2. There are some writers who can write two to three ms a year and others that can only write one - sometimes taking longer than a year.
    I understand that you should keep trying with new material but for some of us we don't have multiple works to submit.
    I think I would prefer to think in terms of quality over quantity.

  3. The Writer's Canvas,
    Jessica certainly does have the right idea. I think that too often, writers only have the mindset to do one project at a time. That really slows things down. I do think the one word of caution would be to be careful that the second book you are working on doesn't make the same mistakes that you are hearing about from the first marketing. Just keep thinking!

  4. Barb,

    You are right about some people only having one manuscript. I have to refer to an earlier comment that I have made about writers not being "ready" to market their books. I am of the personal opinion that a writer needs to take some time before launching into a marketing attack for agents and editors. Take the time to learn before selling. Too often we start into the business too early and then get burned out. You know, it may take 3 years before you are ready.

  5. I have sent two different ms to the same agent and she said the same thing both times. I think that this is just her standard 'rejection' answer.
    As an agent do you have a standard rejection answer? Or, if you think the project is no good do you just send out a form rejection? It is very hard to interpet what someone is trying to say to you as even agent's have there own way of doing things.:(

  6. Em-
    Two things here. First of all, if you received the same comment both times from the agent, then I would think that you needed to take some time to insure that the second manuscript didn't make the same mistakes. Of course, that all depends on the comments that you were given, which leads me to the second point...

    If it was a standard form rejection, then obviously you are stuck. I often see the standard rejections as ones that state something like, "it just didn't compete with the other manuscripts I get" or something like that.

    As for me, I do not have a standard response (except for e-queries when someone sends me a manuscript that isn't a genre I acquire). I do, however, have a lot of standard phrases that I find I use over and over an over an over again. These deal with voice, pacing, depth of character, and even my simply liking the storyline. I have to say, there are only so many ways to say that the characters were not believable enough for me.