Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It Won't Fly If You Don't...

Hopefully you've heard the saying, "If won't fly, if you don't try." Many writers grow frustrated with the publishing world. They pitch their idea to a series of agents or editors at a conference. Return home and send the follow-up material to those professionals. Then several months down the line, they get rejected and decide, "Guess no one wants to publish my idea."

That is not necessarily the case.

There are many reasons why your book idea was rejected. Some of those reasons have to do with you and your pitch. Yet other reasons have nothing to do with you and everything to do with timing. Because most agents and editors use carefully worded form rejections which tell you nothing about the specific reason, you are left to guess. Most people speculate that it's something to do with them. Maybe the editor or agent came to the office and got wrapped in some crisis. They could not handle the submissions on their desk so they rejected everything. Yes, they do this routine rejection just to clear off their desk and give themselves some space. It had nothing to do with the author's proposal.

While you think your proposal is unique and different, there are many similar ideas in the marketplace. As an editor or an agent, I've seen those similar ideas come into my mailbox. I already have one of those in the works so I reject the ones that arrive after it. It has nothing to do with the value of that pitch or the writer.

Agents and editors are looking for the right book at the right time and the right place. Your proposal is important and something I can't emphasize enough. You have seconds to make the right impression. It is your responsibility to give your proposal the best possible chance so someone will accept it. How can you improve your chances of acceptance?

First, craft an excellent proposal and sample chapter. I've written many proposals and sample chapters plus I've reviewed thousands of these proposals. It is not simple or easy but it is a skill you can learn. In the last few months, I've invested a great deal of energy to write an online course for writers called Write A Book Proposal. Step-by-step I teach writers how to put together the best possible pitch for their book. The course is unconditionally guaranteed so if it is not right for you, then I will refund your small investment. One of my bestselling novelist friends called my course "a bold new effort." I've not seen anything like it in the publishing world and I'd love for you to consider it. Grow in your knowledge about publishing and proposal creation is my first suggestion.

My second suggestion is to persist. Often writers send their proposal to an editor or two, and then when it is rejected, they decide there is no market for the idea. That is not necessarily true. The writer hasn't found the right connection so they quit trying. Each Monday I look forward to the column from bestselling author Harvey Mackay. While I read the column in my newspaper, I also subscribe to his columns from his website so I receive it a second time via email later in the week. This week, Mackay wrote a column called, If you believe you are sure to succeed. You can follow the link and read the entire column, but notice the first sentence which is a quote from Henry Ford, "Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people succeed because they are determined to." Do you believe your proposal or idea will succeed in the marketplace? Then take steps to make that happen.

Finally you need to persevere looking for the right connection for your idea. Maybe it's not a book but a magazine article. Or maybe it is both a magazine article and a book. Some of my writer friends have a 24 hour rule to handle rejections. If their proposal is turned down, then they give themselves 24 hours to send it back into the marketplace. It's how they persevere and is an example that you can also follow. Do make sure you are using a current name and contact information for that agent or editor. I continue to receive submissions for Howard Publishing (a company that I've not been with for five years and one that has not had that name for seven years). Just the use of this name on the outside of the envelope is a dead giveaway that the writer is using an old resource.

It will not fly if you don't try. It will never sell in your computer or file drawer. You must get it out there. Take action today.

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