I’m headed home in a few hours and I’ll spend a good chunk of today in the airport. I’ve got one more breakfast meeting with a couple of literary agents. The annual book conventions are busy times of meetings and countless individual conversations. It stands in complete contrast to the typical writing life of sitting at a computer for the majority of the day and spending a few minutes on the phone.
At these conventions, authors come to life. They stand in front of you and you spend a few minutes getting acquainted or catching up on family and their current lives, exchanging business cards, then pressing on. I’ve had some significant meetings during the convention. As often the case, the proof of the significance will be in the follow-up and whether anything results from it.
Several times during the convention, I had some basic truths confirmed—which are rarely discussed but significant to any writer. The craft of writing is critical. If the book or the book proposal or the manuscript isn’t well-written, then the sales people have nothing to sell. The writing is always foundational. Yet there are many other factors in the sales process such as the cover design, the book packaging and the sales materials.
Yet sadly because of the huge volume of manuscripts and submissions, unless the relationship is present with the agent or the editor, then good work can be overlooked. The book conventions are about affirming, building and continuing those relationships. Who you know is important and can’t be overemphasized. If you don’t know anyone, then you need to start the journey. If you know a few people, you need to constantly be expanding the circle of editors and agents and authors. These relationships are important.
As an editor, I understand a basic truth (again often overlooked): agents work for the author. While some authors have to work hard to find an agent, the author often forgets that the agent works for them. The author doesn’t work for the agent. If you love a particular editor and publishing house and want to work with this editor—and your agent discourages you—never forget that ultimately you are in charge of your own publishing career. Sure you want to listen to your agent and his advise—but no one is perfect in this business and no one gives 100% sound wise advise. You can still go to that smaller publisher despite what your agent says. It’s a truth that I know only too well so I’ve spent a lot of time this past week building, meeting and continuing my relationships with authors.
Today I noticed Amazon.com has finally added my “look inside” the book to my Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. I believe this feature is a strong help to people who want to look a bit at the book, read the back cover and a sample before they purchase the book. I can’t find the link at the moment, but Amazon.com has a way for authors to submit their own material. It can take eight weeks (and almost took that long for my book). I took that initiative as an author to send my book to Amazon.com and eventually it showed up on their website—as an additional sales tool for the book. It’s another marketing hint for any authors and their own books. Again you can take charge of your own destiny in this small but maybe important area—and not wait for your publisher to submit the book into this system (because depending on the publisher it may never happen).
Tomorrow I hope to return to my remaining characteristics about successful writers.