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Friday, November 16, 2012


The Constant Search in Publishing

Recently when I was speaking at a conference, over and over, individuals thanked me for being willing to meet with them. As an acquisitions editor, I'm constantly looking for great writing. Meeting with authors is a key part of my job and the back and forth dialogue is where some of the important work of publishing takes place—even though to some it may be in a few minutes.

Normally a conference will send their schedule to me ahead of time and see if I want to block off any time to attend sessions or just do other work outside of the conference. 

Repeatedly I do not block off time and try and take as many individual meetings as I can during the conference.

From the reaction of others, I've learned my willingness is a bit unusual. Apparently other editors take more control of their schedule and often limit the number of sessions they will take with new authors.

I wish you could see some of my conference schedules with these back to back meetings. These ten or fifteen minute sessions fly past. Sometimes I've met with as many as 20 to 30 different authors during a day. I'll admit by the end of the day it is hard for me to listen to another new idea.

Why do I have these sessions? There are several reasons:

1. I want to explore as much writing as possible because it is the constant search in publishing for excellent writing. I'm always looking for well-written material—fiction or nonfiction. From my years in the business, I can spot a quality project in just a few pages of writing. 

In my view, looking for good writing is like searching for treasure. When you find it, you recognize it and want to bring it to my publishing house.

2. One of the key ways that my own books have been published is through personal relationships formed at a writers' conference. It is my opportunity to give back to others and “pass it forward” through acquiring their work and publishing it at Morgan James.

At any given time, there are millions of proposals, pitches and manuscripts in circulation. Publishing continues to be a relational business. You have to have quality storytelling and writing but you also need that right connection. By attending conferences and listening to pitches from writers, I'm helping others form these key relationships.

Writers need to be vigilant and continually look for their next publishing opportunity. Several weeks ago, I met a writer with a novel at a conference. This author had a literary agent and after the conference I followed up and spoke with the agent. Following my phone call, I immediately sent the agent an email with my request for the electronic version of the manuscript. 

Today or almost a month after this phone exchange with the agent, I realized I had never received anything. I picked up the phone and got the agent on the phone asking about it. She said she had never seen my emails. I confirmed the email address and time I sent it—and as we were speaking, she found the emails. It's the type of follow-up work that I'm constantly doing to look for quality projects to publish. As I was writing this material, the agent sent me this manuscript. My follow-up work paid off.

After I receive the author's submission, I need to read it and process it. This means the author receives an acknowledgement letter for their submission in the mail. Also I write my feedback to the publication board and champion the author's work.

Our publication board meets each week and issues contracts to authors. It's been my joyous role to send the contracts to the authors and receive their excited responses.

Here's one of the amazing things to me as I travel the country and meet one-on-one with different authors. I repeatedly ask people for their material—and they don't do it. 

I encourage you to do your follow-up work and follow through sending your requested material to the editor or agent. It's a critical part of the process of getting published.


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4 Comment:

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Jon Guenther Left a note...

For those much newer to the publishing game this is tremendous advice. I'll never forget our initial meeting, Terry, that turned into coffee at B&N, eventually leading to you representing me and just a few short months later my first sale! Most of all, it created a lasting friendship.

None of that would have happened without persistent follow-up from both sides and good business diligence. I hope writers seek out your advice and learn to follow up. Great post, Terry!

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Thanks, Jon. I appreciate the feedback and your friendship. I hope we can work together in the days ahead.

 
At 3:12 PM, Blogger PoetryPagan Left a note...

I haven't had any conferences yet, but the idea of talking about what I've written is nerve-wracking.

 
At 6:32 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Poetry Pagan,

I hate to tell you but you have to learn to speak about your writing and your passion. It's what editors and agents will want to see at a conference. I know most of us are introverts (me too) but speaking with editors about your writing is a part of the publishing progress.

I hope I've helped you.

Terry

 

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