Friday, December 2, 2022

Who Is Your Specialist?

I love seeing writing groups bringing in specialists to discuss things they can do to improve their writing. I love the proactivity of these groups. They aren't going to just fumble around in the darkness, but they are out to really learn. AND THEN...

Every now and then I see authors bring in "specialists" and I cringe. They have brought in people to talk about things that not only do they not know, but they are discussing topics that they have not been able to do on their own. 

I recently saw a speaker talking about how they balance their life and their careers. Certainly, a great topic, unless you know "the other side of the story" that this person could not meet their own deadlines when writing for a publisher. 

I have seen other authors discussing how to become a published author and have never been able to publish a book on their own. And let me say that this person is not an editor, agent or developmental editor. This is just someone who had started to be a writer and moved on to teaching others their success.

I recently attended a workshop where the guest speaker was talking about how to be successful in the traditional publishing world, and yet this "author's" examples were pamphlets he created on his own through generic copying services (ie, Office Depot).

As someone who has always put education at the forefront of my agency, I want people to always take the time to REALLY know who they are bringing in to present. Along the same lines, if you are looking for a workshop to take, or a session to take at a conference, DO NOT get swayed by the "hype" that person has promoted. Always ask yourself: WHAT DO THEY KNOW? HAVE THEY PROVEN THEMSELVES IN THAT SKILL?

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Holiday Book Queries During The Holidays

It is that time of the year when decorations are going up and celebrating is happening around the world. OK, so maybe it started in August at your local Big Box Stores, but you get the idea. Everyone is in the mood. But, along with these decorations and uber-commercialism, comes a rush of authors with their Christmas romances. And, unfortunately, I find myself rejecting so many of these.

I understand the fascination of this type of book for authors. They know these books sell since we get 27/7 streaming of those holiday stories on TV. In fact, my vet has these running beginning the hour they hit the airwaves. With this popularity of this genre, it would seem that this is a high demand product in publishing.

Let me first say, it is a high demand product, however, for new authors, it is not something that is going to be an easy sale. Let me explain why.

First of all, it is important to know when the "hot spots" are on the publishers' calendars for authors. Contemporary authors really want those fun beach stories to show up around Spring Break and Summer. And the Holiday Season (November and December) are amazingly hot! Since sales are the ultimate goal for authors and publishers, there is always a huge fight to get those coveted spots. I often picture editors in the middle of a cage match fighting to get "their author" on the calendar. So, this means, that the established authors will primarily be getting those slots.

But what about the movies, you ask? 

Again, these are going to be going to authors who have already had that book published. You will also find that many of those movies we watch have been recycled from prior seasons.

Does this mean that a debut author cannot get that book sold? Absolutely not. However, it is again going to be an uphill climb. Too often, these stories I see being submitted to me are nothing more than copies of the same tropes and storylines. There is really nothing new and original here. What authors have forgotten is that to compete in that competitive market requires really bringing something new and unique to the table.

I don't want to discourage you from writing that story of your heart. Please, write it. Just understand that selling it might not be the easiest thing you have done.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

I thought I Would Do It This Way

I know that over and over again, you have heard editors and agents say that, in the end, it all comes down to the story. We are evaluating you on the quality of the project you have sent to us. While this is entirely true, I do think that many of you are misinterpreting this idea. Even though we say it is the quality of the story, there are still "rules" to be followed. If you are someone thinking that you have free rein to do anything you want, you are missing the point. 

I see, over and over again, authors who simply do not follow the submission guidelines. This is not just for me, but I know of other editors and agents who have seen the same thing. We have these guidelines in place for a reason. This is how we process your story in a quick and efficient manner. Not following those guidelines demonstrate to us that you are someone who will likely not be able to follow our directions when it comes to editorial notes.

For example, I have seen people who simply embed into their email their first three chapters and full synopsis of their story. I get that some editors and agents say it is OK, but my guidelines say not to do that. 

I also see people who will simply send links to their personal websites or to their book on Amazon. They say they would rather do this instead. Sorry, again, this is going to get you a rejection. 

I have told many classes this when I am teaching at the college level. If you have to ask, "If I do it this way instead, is that OK?" You should immediately know the answer. NO!

Follow the guidelines. Don't try to do things YOUR way, and you may find yourself getting less rejections and maybe even a better chance of becoming published. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Spamming Editors, Agents, Authors and Bloggers = Not Cool

When we are talking about marketing, it is always great to have a following of people who will always share your links to your books, and, in return, you are going to do the same thing. This cross marketing is a fantastic way to get the word out. HOWEVER, in our world of social media, we have a lot of people, not just in publishing, who believe that the best way to promote their product, is to essentially spam market on other people's platforms.

I frequently find, as I am either blogging here, or sorting my emails, authors who are jumping on my platforms and filling my emails with their personal products. Now, let me first say, these are often books and products that have nothing to do with Greyhaus Literary Agency so I would obviously not follow up. For example, I might post how editing your manuscript for grammar before sending it to agents is a really good idea (which, um, yes, it is). Then, I get a comment from someone who writes:

Scott, everything you said in this post is right on the money. Grammar and spelling are truly important and thank you for posting. As a follow up, here is a link to my service where I will provide not only copy editing, but also cover design for your book. Thank you for sharing my link.

Wait a minute! I did not offer to share your link. You just scrolled through the Internet and linked your product to it. So, what do I do? Delete your comment and move on. And since these comments show up in my email immediately after you posted, the odds are it was a waste of time. 

Another example are the authors who are likely going through those awful lists posted by someone who says, "Here are links to all of the agents". They then go through that list, copy all of the emails and start sending out emails with their blog posts, their social media campaigns and so forth. Ugh.

Look, if as an author, you are upset by the fact that you are not hearing back from editors and agents right now, it is because we are SWAMPED! We have all of our own clients, but we are also sorting though all of those SPAM emails that fill our inbox. 

If you want to learn more about honest social media marketing and connecting your product to the right people, there are a ton of courses out there that teach you just that. Take the time to learn. You will find that your name and reputation in the business world may greatly improve!