Wednesday, December 4, 2013

When You Care Enough To Send The Very Best

There are two commercials I am always quoting. The first is the Head and Shoulders commercial that says "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." The second, which I want to spend time on today, is Hallmark that says, "When you care enough to send the very best." It is this point, I personally believe, many people in publishing (writers, editors and agents) are either forgetting or blatantly ignoring.

For beginning writers, I have stressed this a lot here on the blog. Make sure that the work you send to the editor or agent is really your best stuff. We keep those emails, we log your names into data bases, and yes, we remember who you are if you send garbage. This is why I pound so much the idea of editing and doing your research. I stress the importance of doing your work first before sending things out. But, I do believe there is another side of this we might be forgetting.

We are currently in a business that is about getting your name out there to the readers. We know that the market is saturated now with the everyone trying to get the coveted attention of the readers. Without the readers there would be no income for those in publishing. I get it. But, when we say we want to get our name out there to the readers, we want to be remembered for the good that we send out and not the bad that we send out.

Why do I say this? I have heard many writers make comments about stories that didn't sell, or maybe got less than favorable early reviews from beta-readers, that they would "just self-publish it" or "send it out to an e-pub" just to keep my name in the loop. Now, this is certainly a viable option if the story is good and if the story is not selling because it is a little outside of the norm. But if the story isn't strong, why are you sending it out there? It isn't good!

At a recent conference, I actually heard an author make the comment that even bad publicity is good publicity. Ummm, no! Yes, your name is out there and yes, there will be a few that pick up the book just to see if the review was right, but this will not be a returning customer. That reader will not come back and say "You know, that first book was a piece of garbage but maybe their second will get better." Nope, you are off the radar.

I do think this goes beyond simply the writers though. I worry that agents and editors are doing the same thing. I know that I try hard to not just send something out to get a story published. When an editor gets a project from Greyhaus Literary Agency, they will know it is not being sent to 50 other editors. My list is often limited 8 or 10. Why? Because it doesn't fit with the other publishers. These editors also know that I am not going to send something to them that I think is mediocre. I sent it because it is good.

I do wonder at times, when I pick up books to read for leisure from some of my favorite publishers if they too forgot the idea of "when you care enough to send the very best." I sometimes wonder if the reason the story went out was because the author had a contract to fulfill or there was a slot that needed to be plugged in the year's line up. It may be tough to tell that big name author, "this story isn't that good and we need to fix it again," but isn't it worth it in the long run?

Look, don't get me wrong. There are a lot of great people out there doing great things. There are a lot of writers, editors and agents striving hard to produce a great project. But for those of you just seeing this as a way to get a name out there... think about it. Is this really your best.

Sorry for the rant. :)

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