Monday, January 14, 2013

Keep Building Publishing Relationships

I had not heard from this author in several months then I received this follow-up message: “Since I haven't heard back from you, I'll assume you're not interested. Just wanted to let you know that I'm pursuing other publishers for my book. Cheers.”

What did she submit? It had been weeks ago so I used my search tool for my email and located her “submission.” It was a scattered “idea” of a book project claiming that she was too busy to properly put together anything else. The submission didn't contain her name, contact info, her marketing ideas or a brief bio. When it arrived, I reviewed it and confirmed receipt but I assumed that something much more polished and presentable would be coming. It never arrived so I had nothing to present to my publication board. Instead I received her follow-up note.

This author is clueless of the volume of submissions that editors and agents receive—nor the necessity of building (not tearing down) relationships with these publishing professionals. 

As writers we need to continually grow our connections and relationships. Here's some positive ways to grow these relationships:

First, follow the editor or agent and their writing. It may be as simple as reading their blog on a regular basis (if they have a blog) or following them on Twitter (and if you follow them back you have a direct connection to them and can send them little bits of encouragement—we all need it). 

Or get connected to them through LinkedIn (which is another tool that I'm using to be connected to different editors). Or befriend them on Facebook and follow their posts and comment on them or “like” them. These connections do not have to take tons of time or energy or cost lots of money but you do need to be actively developing and strengthening new connections on a regular basis.

Next, you want to polish your writing and proposals, then be sending them out on a regular basis to the editors and agents in your path. And if you don't hear any response (which happens fairly often because of the large volume of submissions), then after a few weeks time, I encourage you to gently follow-up. Not as the opening example in this entry—but maybe something simple as, “I'm double checking to make sure you received my submission which I sent on this date.”

Email gets messed up and we receive a lot of it. The simple checking to see if they got it may spur the editor or agent into action and get you the attention that you wanted in the first place. 

Another way to build publishing relationships is a little harder for me to explain but I'm going to try. I listen to my inner thoughts and take action on those thoughts. Some people would call it listening to the “still small voice” which directs your daily actions. For example, today I was reminded of one of my Morgan James authors and I wrote a little email checking in. Or it might be an author that I've not heard from in a while and the author comes into my thoughts—and I write a simple email to this person. 

Sometimes I hear nothing from those little emails (and it will work the same for you). Other times I reach out to an author just at their point of decision and they are trying to figure out which way to go. Because I've reached out to them, they come my direction as opposed to going another way (and I'm talking about my work as an acquisitions editor here but it can also happen with my writing life). One of the keys in this publishing business is being in the right place at the right time. It can only happen if you are taking consistent persistent action. 

Today one of my friends, Bob Bly wrote about the characteristics of successful people and the seven factors that make a difference. I encourage you to follow this link and study this list. How can you gain more of these characteristics for your own publishing life?

How are you building publishing relationships this year? One of the best ways is to plan to attend a writer's conference. There are many different choices in this area. I'm speaking at a number of different events around the country. I'd love to help you and hope our paths cross soon—either on the phone or email or face to face at a conference.

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3 Comment:

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Audrey Left a note...

I appreciate all of the good "nitty gritty" advice that you share with us through your blog. I hope to send you a submission someday. When I do, I will try to follow all of the good advice you gave me today!

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Thank you, Audrey. I'm continuing to try and help authors build relationships and succeed in this business. I look forward to receiving your submission when you are ready. Terry

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Jon Guenther Left a note...

Egads! If she was too busy to put together a decent proposal, she'll be hard pressed to get a response from any editor. That's akin to waiting to win the lottery but being too busy to buy a ticket!

This is a great post, Terry, and I had to grin when I read about "being in the right place at the right time." That includes reaching out to the right place for your project, but also having the right project for the editor. Otherwise it's a complete waste of time for all parties.

Writers must realize getting published always starts with the writer, and the proposal is that all-important introduction that acts as the gateway to building relationships. That's true if by email, conference, or simply over coffee at a local hotspot.


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