Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Showcase Your Skill As A Writer

I always like to bring this up every now and then as a reminder to authors. In reality, there really isn't much of a difference between pitching stories to editors and agents (and yes, even book buyers) as there is to applying for a job or convincing customers to buy your product. I think that far too many authors out there have taken the phrase "It all comes down to the manuscript" as the only thing that matters when selling a project. I honestly don't know how many times I get submissions that "throw me the project" and simply hope it will sell itself.

What do I see? Well, in many cases, these are worthy of blog flogs:

  • Emails with the full manuscript attached. No cover letter, nothing in the email. Just the thought that if I open up this random email with "something" attached, it will be exactly what I am looking for.
  • Emails that tell me they have an extraordinary book but tell me nothing about them. Instead, they tell me the time, energy and passion they put into their projects.
  • People sending me the full manuscript because the requested material is simply not enough and I need to read the whole thing.
  • Responses after a rejection that had I given the project time and actually worked with me over time, they would see how amazing they are as writers.
I know some of these sound extreme, but that is really what we see.

Whether you are sending an initial submission out, pitching a story to an editor/agent at a conference, or even convincing book buyers and potential readers to buy your book, you have to do more than simply tell us you have a great book. You have to show it to us.


  • What is unique about your project compared to everyone else out there?
  • What makes your plot different and interesting?
  • What makes the conflict different and interesting?
  • What makes the characters someone we can (and want) to relate to.
The best way to think about selling a book to that potential buyer is to think what drives you to buy a book from an unknown author. Yes, I know we frequently get a book on a recommendation, but I am talking about when you do this on your own. No one is telling you to buy the book. You just pick it up. Just like we did with the real book stores out there and not the digital bookstores that tell you what to buy. The key is, what makes you decide to hit "BUY NOW?" What was it about the actual product that sucked you in.

That is what you have to do.

In simple terms, this is all about marketing. And again, this is not just for those people working with editors and agents. This is also about people doing this on your own. You are now a small business owner trying to get your product out there to the consumer. Don't expect much success if you just throw it on a shelf and hope for the best!


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  3. Writers are introverts trying to be extroverts, and sometimes self-production feels squishy.

  4. Sarah, Although writers may be introverts, this is a public business and therefore requires writers to step from behind their computers. Remember that you will need to do book signings, talk on panels, teach courses and so forth.

  5. You are absolutely correct Scott! Excellent reminders and points. Although I have some background in sales and marketing, stepping up and stepping out can be difficult, but necessary to selling any product. I have learned to enjoy the book readings/signings, talking to anyone interested about my work, and so on. Remembering to keep your points in mind re query letters is also hugely important. It's all about professionalism and learning to think as a business owner. Next project I need to send out there to query, I'll remember this post. :) Btw, book 2 set for release in November '13. Thanks for your helpful suggestions with it. Much appreciated. Now working on 3rd project, 4th in the wings. :)