Thursday, March 5, 2015

On Choosing Who To Submit To

Determining the right fit for your project is tough for any writer. Heck, it's even tough for agents when we consider placement of stories. It is not so much of the issue of the editor or agent open to submissions in a given genre. It is also about how well the story fits with that person. One approach I see author make with queries, that might not be as successful as they think, is to compare his or her work to that of the clients the editor or agent already has.

This is what it would look like:

I am submitting my project, THE VIRGIN RAKE AND THE HORNY COUNTESS because you represent some of the best historical writers in the business including Ann Lethbridge, Bronwyn Scott and  Lois Templin.

Now, while the author might show he or she is doing their research, the problem is that the author now has to compete against these other writers. The author has now put into the head of the agent that this new submission has to compete with the authors already in the agency. This is going to be tough.

Yes, seeing that you have similar writing as those the agent or editor already has under contract is great, it is your job as a writer to show you have a completely different niche to fill. You are similar in voice but different in the brand you bring to the table.

And yes, this also works with the publishers out there. If they already have a great group of authors making them a lot of money, adding one more person who is doing what they already have is not going to do anything for them. They want something slightly different.

I remember several years ago I submitted a story to a publisher and they passed on the story for just the same reason. The response was something like: "While your author has an amazing voice, and is certainly equal to [insert their current author] we can't make an offer because we already have an author doing that." (yes, I am paraphrasing here, but you get the idea).

When you hear editors and agents speak of finding someone with a great new voice, this is what we are talking about. Show us you fit within the agency (or publisher) but show us you have that something different to create your own niche.

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