How to pitch a book

When attending writers conferences, many people get extremely nervous about meeting with editors and agents. I know I certainly have. It’s understandable. The key to remaining calm when you pitch a book is realizing, first, that agents and editors are just regular folks doing their jobs, and second, that you will get many, many rejections before you get an acceptance. When you start understanding “no” as just another tick on your list of things to do, it gets much easier to move on. Continue reading

Finding the right editors and agents to pitch

One of the most important reasons to attend a writers conference is the opportunity to meet directly with editors and agents to pitch your manuscript. It’s been my experience that pitching in person has a much greater success rate than sending query letters. By “success” I mean getting a request for the proposal.

If you’re dealing with an editor directly, the submission process usually goes something like this: Continue reading

How to Design a One-Sheet

Also called a pitch sheet, a one-sheet is basically an advertising flyer for your book. Many writers use them at conferences to help break the ice with agents and editors, as I mentioned in my post about what to bring to a writers conference.

Designing a one-sheet is relatively easy. I’ve heard tell of writers paying graphic designers to do this work. At the risk of angering my graphic designer friends, that is overkill. You don’t need to be a designer to put one of these together. You also don’t need a full-on design program like InDesign. Microsoft Word will work well enough, but Apple Pages is better if you have a Mac. Continue reading

Where to find agents

If your goal is to be published by one of the major houses, you’ll need an agent. Writer’s Market lists agents on its website, and also publishes a Guide to Literary Agents. The Association of Authors’ Representatives, the main professional organization for agents, maintains a directory of its members. Check agent websites to ensure they’ve been in business for a while, and that they handle books in your topic area or genre. Approaching an agent who specializes in contemporary Amish romances with your bodice-ripping historical novel is Not Recommended.

The same way you would review resumes if you were hiring, or the way you would investigate companies if you were looking for a job, you must examine agents and publishers to find those that are the best fit for your topic area and personality. That’s one of the reasons conferences are a great way to find an agent. Continue reading

‘Publishing 3.0’ — what is is and why it matters

Over at TechCrunch, author James Altucher has written an excellent article about the process of self-publishing his book Choose Yourself.choose yourself

Every entrepreneur should self-publish a book, because self-publishing is the new business card. If you want to stand out in a world of content, you need to underline your expertise.—James Altucher

A while back I said there are two kinds of publishing: Author Pays and Someone Else pays. Altucher has a different take on it. What he sees is Professional Publishing and Unprofessional Publishing, and he argues that some of the latter is being done by the big houses. I can’t refute that. Continue reading

How to choose a publisher

One good way to find the right publisher for your book is to find similar books in your topic area or genre, and submit your manuscript to the publishers of those books.

When using this method, you do need to ensure that a book very similar to yours hasn’t been published very recently. Publishers will often reject books that are too similar to those they are currently trying to promote. You’re looking for books related to yours, but not exactly the same. Books that will have a similar audience.

Yes, that’s very hard to figure out. I never said this was easy.

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Invisible book sales

book sales

Books sold at unusual venues like outdoor fairs often go unreported.
Photo by Maridav, iStockphoto

There’s a problem with “best seller lists” that people in the industry talk about amongst themselves, but I’m not sure whether the general public is aware of it.

Vast numbers of book sales don’t get counted by the compilers of those lists, mainly because the books are published by those outside the Big Six Formidable Five, and also because a lot of those sales don’t happen through regular retail channels. Continue reading

Penguin Random House merger approved

The Big Six is now the Big Five, which somehow just doesn’t have the same ring to it. The deal sailed through the regulatory approval process in all the countries that had a say in it. The New York Times gives this picture of publishing’s new behemoth:

The new company would have more than 10,000 employees, 250 independent publishing imprints and about $3.9 billion in annual revenues.

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Small Presses: The Alternative to the Big Six

Companies that are not part of the Big Six labyrinth are a vital part of the publishing business. The Big Six may dominate the bestseller lists and the giant book stacks at Barnes & Noble, but small presses, also known as independent publishers, foster creative innovation by serving niche markets.

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Q&A: What is an imprint?

Q: Yesterday you mentioned imprints at the Big Six publishers. What is an imprint?

A: It’s a brand within a brand.

question answer

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Just like Proctor & Gamble makes Tide detergent for clothes and Cascade detergent for dishes, large publishers—especially the vast publishing conglomerates that make up the Big Six—form different brands for different products. For example, Random House has Waterbrook Multnomah for the Christian submarket, Del Rey for science fiction and fantasy, and Ballantine Books for the general market. Continue reading