Sunday, April 09, 2023

Every Writer Needs a Champion


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

The process of getting published is complicated--especially if you are looking for something besides self-publishing. Even self-publishing is complicated with many wrong possible choices. Every writer is looking for the right place to get published. That process of finding the right place often involves asking many questions. As someone who has been in publishing for decades, I personally see the complexity. 

One of the ways to ease your publishing journey through the complexity is to locate a champion. Within publishing, this champion does not carry the title of champion. It could be a writing coach, a literary agent or an editor at a publishing house. If you have such a champion, they are looking out for you as your book goes through the publishing process. Good communication is a value for this person and they understand that if the details dont line up properly, then you will not get a contract offer. This champion will help you get through the process and answer your various questions. If the champion doesnt know the answers, they will find the right person with the answer. 

If you dont have a champion, then you will get generic rejection letters with zero information or insight. Its possible for you to be stuck in this rejection cycle for years. At the heart, the publishing business is relational and you have to work to find the right relationship--someone you trust and who has wisdom and experience that you need.

Let me include a couple of stories to illustrate the important role of a writers champion. Recently at Morgan James Publishing, I got a submission from a pastor with a daily devotional with 365 entries or 125,000 words. As an editor, I could see the internal discussion with my colleagues and this book was going to get rejected because of the proposed size. When this book got into production it was likely going to be over 400 pages and have a retail price of $35. These production details were something out of the authors sight but critical for the decision-making process. I asked my colleagues for suggested alternatives and one suggested a 180 day devotional. Because the page count is smaller, then size and retail price would be a fit for the marketplace. With the reduced size, it could become a product which could generate sales and succeed. I called the author to see if he was willing to make this adjustment. Some authors are willing and others are not. Thankfully this author was open to our suggestion and got a contract offer for his book. Notice the flexibility of the author to make such an adjustment.

With another author, I looked at the internal comments about her proposed book, and I could see it was also going to be rejected because of the proposed size. I called this author to see if she could reduce her word count to something which could work and thankfully she was willing to make this adjustment and received a contract offer. 

There are several lessons in these stories. First, as a writer, you have to be aware of the word count and what is working in todays marketplace. Readers are looking for shorter books. Ive had several authors who have proposed novels which are 200,000 word novels or similar to large works of fiction. When I suggested finding a place in the middle of the book to break it into two books, the author refused which terminates the possibility of publishing their book. For your book to succeed in the marketplace, it has to be commercial and reasonably priced. As an author, you have to be teachable and coachable to find your place in the market and sell books.

Often in these articles, I encourage you to take consistent time and energy to expand your connections in the publishing world. It will take work for the writer to locate the right champion or publishing connection. Whether you make this connection in person at a writers conference or online, make the connection. If you and I are not connected on LinkedIN, then look at my profile and send me a connection invitation.

What actions are you taking to find a champion for your writing? Let me know in the comments below. 


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2 Comment:

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Jay Heavner Left a note...

Well said.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thank you for the feedback.



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