Sunday, March 18, 2018

Can You Follow The Editor’s Directions?

As a long-time member of the publishing community, I interact with a number of authors. In fact, I have my personal email address onmy Twitter profile. It generates a number of emails that I answer. I do love to help writers which is one of the reasons I write these articles each week.

Recently I got an email from “Tom” (not his real name). He told about sending his novel out to numerous literary agents and not finding one. He sent me his phone number and asked to “schedule a time to chat.”

From my experience, this author’s suggestion was a big mistake. My time is as limited as the next person and I’ve “chatted” with plenty of authors who have wasted my time.

Because Morgan James publishes about 25 to 30 novels a year, and I work for them, I quickly transferred this discussion to my work email. I wrote Tom and asked for several specifics—true for any novel submission:

1. I need the full manuscript
2. I need a synopsis
3. I need the author’s mailing address

Tom responded that he would be sending it to me and appreciated the quick response.

About a week later Tom sent the preface to his novel and the first chapter. He acknowledged in his cover note that I asked for the full manuscript but he wanted to send what he wanted to send.

I quickly responded and asked for the full manuscript, synopsis and address. It was several weeks ago—and to date I’ve not heard from Tom. I believe Tom is going to struggle to find an agent or a publisher. Why? He has refused to send what is requested. 

Possibly he is a talented writer with a great novel but unless you follow the directions, you will never be read and published (other than self-published—and the average self-published book sells less than 100 copies during the lifetime of the book.). These details matter and are part of the evaluation process as I meet authors. Are they coachable and teachable?

Like I often hear from our Morgan James founder, David Hancock, we can always fix the manuscript but sometimes we can’t fix a poor or bad author.

Are the lack of attention or following the details holding you back from achieving your publishing dreams? If you are struggling to find the right connection with a literary agent or a publisher. I encourage you to consider if your material is in the requested format and if you are following the directions in the guidelines. Not delivering what is requested can prevent you from achieving your dreams as a writer. It can be something simple but important to the editor or agent which blocks you from moving forward.

Have you ever discovered that when you added something which was missing, it changed how it was received and opened a new opportunity? Let me know in the comments below.


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