Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We Don't Sign Books, We Sign Authors

Writers often comment that the manuscript is the thing. We hear people say all of the time, "if your story is good, it will sell." This, unfortunately is not always the case.

Publishing is an interesting business. We spend all of this time as authors pushing our project. We develop query letters, synopses, and countless submissions. Everything is about the project itself. But in the end, although it is the project that gets us into the door, it is the author that signs the contract. It is the author that the editors and agents look to.

One thing I see over and over again with query letters is the lack of depth the author provides in terms of demonstrating their career as a writer. Even if this is your first book, you have to be able to demonstrate that you will be in this relationship with the editor or agent for the long haul. Unless your book is the ultimate block-buster, we are not looking for the "one-hit-wonder" but a career writer. We know that it will be the career as a writer that develops into a lucrative business. Rarely will it be that one book.

Along the same lines, a writer has to think about what image they are giving to the editor or agent they are querying. Again, this is a marriage and we don't want to end up finding out that we are working with someone who could be difficult, or worst-case scenario - a complete freak. Remember that once you sign with an editor or an agent, you are not only being represented by that publisher or agency, but you are also representing that publisher and that agency. What you do, what you say and how you act reflects not just on your writing but the others around you.

As you think about your query letters this week, take some time to think about what you are saying about you as a person and you as an author. Reverse roles! If you read your query letter and just the query letter, would you be someone you would want to work with? Don't just rely on that manuscript. Would you really want to spend time with you?

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