Monday, August 9, 2010

Wanted - Career Writers: Why editors are not looking for one hit wonders

I have said this before and I will say it again. Publishing is a weird industry. How many times do we hear "it is all about the story." That is so true. We don't care how long you worked on the project, or the level of research you put into it, if the writing is bad or it is not something that the market will accept, it will not sell. But with that said, there is another factor that comes into place. The writer.

Agents, in particular, are not looking for the one-hit-wonders. We are looking for career authors that plan to stay around a while. We want authorst that are here to learn their craft and build their leadership. For me, this is a big factor. It's part of the reason why I push so hard on professionalism and your approach when it comes to pitching a story to me either in person or from a distance through snail mail or e-mail. If you are someone that I wouldn't want to work with for a while, I don't care how good your story is, I will pass on the project. The only thing that I believe separates me from the other agents is the fact that I do that up front. They request the manuscript and then do it.

You may have a fantastic first story, but do you have more behind you? Anything in reserves that isn't a copy of the other one?

When I sit down and talk to writers about their career, if it is in person or on the phone after I have shown some interest in a project, I often talk about where they see their career in 5, 10 or 20 years. For many, just knowing the next project is tough. But the answers I hear at this point are very telling.

But why do we really want the career writers? Simply put, this business takes time to be successful. If you don't have what it takes to wait and keep working, you will struggle, and yes, no one makes money.

So this really goes out to many of you newer writers. If you are sitting there with your first project and you are thinking about sending that little sucker out this week. Stop! Are you a one hit wonder or career writer? Can you prove it to us on this end of the submission?



  1. Definitely something to think about. I suppose 60 is a little old to even sling around the "career" word but ... I got off track at some point and started doing other things. Now I'm back, the entire industry has changed, but I still have my love for writing and publishing. Guess I'll hang in there anyway.

    I appreciate your honesty.

  2. Writing is a part of my chemistry. I can't imagine not writing. My eyes tear up when I think about not ever writing. I've been writing since I discovered my gift at sixteen. When my writing matured (and I hope it it got better and I found blogging a great way to experiment and improve on my gift.

    I want this to be a career. My plan is to social network and blog, reading, and improve on my writing and techniques while I write this first novel. I am also writing short stories to establish myself in the market with a few short stories going off genre (because I love to write the stories that pop in that brain of mind aren't always in the target genre). My plan is to finish this novel (it's a part of a five or six book series) and begin the first book in a two part series. When that novel is done, I'll have two novels out there being sent to different agents. This is in case one book is preferred over another book with a book proposal that has the plans for the other books in the series.

    Next year, I hope to take my first completed manuscript and book proposal to the ACFW conference.

  3. I'm 19 right now and I'm really passionate about my book idea and I have many ideas for the book series I am developing. However, I feel like literary agents keep passing me by when they see my query and take notice of the fact that I'm only nineteen. I understand that being young and inexperienced are factors that would make agents a little uncomfortable, but I really wish they could see past that so I could get some benefical input and professional help with my writing. I honestly believe if someone invested in me and the idea I have, it could open up interest to a new paranormal section in popular culture.

  4. Hi Scott,

    Great point, thanks for making it. I think a new phrase popped into my vision a year or two ago - "writing platform" and while I find the phrase a bit restrictive. Thinking about it did help create a path for my career.

    It is a business and many writers forget, or deny, that aspect.