The Myth of the Lone Ranger Author

The Myth of the Lone Ranger Author As more and more people venture into self publishing, I’ve noticed that for many, it’s a rude awakening how much help they actually need even though they’re thinking of it as a DIY project. I think that’s because, with traditional publishing, most writers are somewhat shielded from the number of people whose work touches their book somewhere along the line. And now that authors are pressured to think about promoting their own books, they’re even more aware of how much work it takes to actually get people to buy. There persists this romantic fantasy of the writer as a loner, holed up in his/her writing cave, emerging to deliver a masterpiece to the publisher, then retreating once again to remain forever invisible while the book took care of selling itself. It...
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Fears about the Publishing Process

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Gmp-fg6mrM/TbeE-OyDnOI/AAAAAAAAEeE/LMYicBg4hU4/s200/pen+and+paper.jpg “Jsfrog” left me this note: If you get an agent, how do you decide what form of publishing to pursue? Do agents typically have a list of preferred houses to pitch to or do they take input from the author? And if you are lucky enough to get a few offers, how do you decide which one to take if there is a difference of opinion somewhere? Like if one prefers the intimacy of a smaller house, but the other is just looking at the financial bottom line? I am an independent introvert so while I would like the validation before publishing, I worry about being overwhelmed by the process. That is one reason I might consider self-publishing or by-passing a few of the steps with a smaller house that still has open submissions. My answer: When an agent offers representation, most...
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The Dilemma of the Prolific Writer

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TTz1Uq3jTKI/AAAAAAAAEV4/tpCEws_S5Q4/s400/typewriter.jpg I have a few clients who are very prolific. As soon as they’ve finished a manuscript (including getting outside feedback and going through a few rounds of revisions) they’re always excited to move on to another. They immediately brainstorm a new story and get going on it. They can write two or more terrific manuscripts in a year. For some authors, especially if they’re already established, this works out great because they’re able to contract those books as fast as they can write them. But for other authors, not so much. The problem comes with a writer who is contracting with a publisher for the first time. Let’s say the publisher loves their writing and we get a two book deal. And with a prolific writer, those two books may already be complete before we even sign the contract....
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Behind the Scenes

at a Pub Committee Meeting Let’s pretend this is a small-ish imprint where everyone gets along and respects each other. In other words, it’s a bit of a fantasy but you know, we like to pretend here on my blog. This is vastly simplified – it’s just supposed to give you the flavor. And we’re only going to see about ten minutes of this meeting (which usually lasts a couple of hours.) The Players:Editor OneEditor TwoEditorial DirectorSales DirectorMarketing DirectorFinance DirectorPublisher The Setting:A boardroom with chairs and a fancy table made of Peruvian Mahogany that was purchased with proceeds from the imprint’s first bestseller. On the back wall, a matching bookshelf filled with all the imprint’s bestsellers since then. The Refreshments:Everyone...
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It’s Just One Opinion

(I loved all your responses on the Friday Free-For-All, and will answer questions next week. I’m taking a blog hiatus and will re-post some oldies but goodies this week. Hopefully they’re just as good the second time around!) Last week our book group had our monthly meeting. We were discussing The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. So I sat down and was all like, “Oh my gosh, I LOVED this book, it’s been such a treat to read, so well written, such a wonderful escape… blah, blah, blah.” But I sort of tapered off my rhapsodizing when I noticed less-than-enthusiastic looks on the faces of a couple of the people in my group. “So, what, didn’t you like the book?” I asked. “Well, yeah, of course, I mean… yeah, it was...
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How Do Agents & Publishers Make Decisions?

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/TDzeXVBMu0I/AAAAAAAAD-U/5OochTpjTlw/s200/one+way+another+way.jpg I was talking with our intern Sarah the other day (hi Sarah!) and she had some questions about a couple of my recent posts. In It’s About What’s Selling I explained that publishers tend to make future decisions based on what has sold well for them in the past. Yet in Don’t Ask Me About Trends I said that while I pay attention to what’s selling, I also take trends with a grain of salt. So Sarah’s question was: Which is it? How do you make decisions? Once and for all, I’ll try to explain this. Years ago, a famous screenwriter named William Goldman coined a phrase that came to be an oft-repeated mantra in Hollywood: Nobody knows anything. By this, he meant that we can’t predict the future. So when a studio plunks down millions of dollars to make a...
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How Long?

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/S6gzSjMwkRI/AAAAAAAADsU/PpUETJUADYY/s200/clock.jpg One of the most frequent questions I get is, How long will it take? How long should I wait before following up with an agent on a submission? If I get an offer from a publisher, how long before they send a contract? How long until I see my first check? When will my manuscript be due? When will I see my book on the shelves? How long does this process take, anyway?Unfortunately the answer is usually something along the lines of, “An excruciatingly long time.” It varies according to who you’re dealing with and many other factors. I’ll try to offer a few hints. 8 When dealing with agents and wondering when to follow up, check their submission guidelines. They sometimes give you a clue about when to check back after submitting. It could be anywhere from several weeks to several...
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Fat Chance: 16 Months from Query to Bookstore

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SYJMVaMNgqI/AAAAAAAACow/yCBwlDsqNt0/s200/Julie.jpg A little over a year ago I was in the middle of an exciting auction (the first I conducted as an agent) for a book by Julie Hadden, the 1st runner up on Season 4 of “The Biggest Loser.” I’m excited that the book, Fat Chance, released this week. I wanted to give you a little background on how I became involved with this book. Each project has its own journey, and with this one, there was a lot of synchronicity involved, or should I say serendipity? Others will call it a “God thing.” Here’s how it happened. In late 2007, I was looking for a good TV show I could watch with my kids. We enjoy shows like Amazing Race and American Idol, where we can watch people overcome challenges, and root for our favorites week by week. I decided on The Biggest Loser....
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It’s All About Collaboration

I was completely impressed with how many of you chimed in on Friday’s post on You: The Marketing Machine. You eloquently expressed your enthusiasm, your dread, and/or your ambivalence about the need to market your own book. One of the themes that cropped up frequently was the romantic fantasy of the writer as a loner, holed up in his/her writing cave, emerging to deliver a masterpiece to the publisher, then retreating once again to remain forever invisible while the book took care of selling itself. (I completely relate to this, by the way.) It got me to thinking about one of the truths of publishing that doesn’t seem to be addressed or acknowledged often enough: Publishing is a collaborative art. It’s like the whole world conspires to persist in the fantasy of a book as...
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Lessons from "Proposal to Publication"

I really enjoyed my blogging break last week, and I’m glad I got a chance to re-run the “Proposal to Publication” series. I hope it helped de-mystify the process for you. As I was reading through it, I noticed there are some lessons you could take away in terms of what you can be preparing yourself for, now, before you enter the process. 1. Many writers balk at the requirement to write a really strong book proposal. You may have noticed in Friday’s post that everyone in the publishing company, including the sales, marketing, and art departments, are given your book proposal and sample chapters. They might not have time to read your whole book, but they need to know enough to do their jobs. This should be enough of an incentive for you to write the best book...
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How Agents & Editors Decide

When you submit your proposal to an agent or publishing house, you may wonder how they make their decisions as to which books to reject and which to accept. Obviously there are numerous considerations that vary from person to person, from publisher to publisher. But there is a simple three-tiered approach we all use to evaluate the viability of a project: 1. The Idea2. The Execution3. The Author PlatformGenerally, you’ve got to be strong in all three areas in order to sell your proposal. There are always exceptions: You might be extremely strong in two of the areas and get away with being a little weaker in the third. In fiction, the idea and execution are primary; the author platform is still important but not nearly as important as the writing. In nonfiction, the author platform is of...
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The Long and Winding Road

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_5cLmD8GqnKY/SbGRTTI4vaI/AAAAAAAACwc/yV15nDnppsw/s320/winding+path.bmp One of the things we often discuss on this blog is the long and often circuitous route to publication. From when you first decide, “I think I’ll write a book!” to the time you have a publishing contract, years can elapse. I had a startling reminder of this a few months ago when I was reading my daily Publishers Marketplace “Today’s Deals.” One of my friends, Ms. Agent, had sold a project by an author whose name was very familiar to me. I’ll call her Ms. Writer. I thought back to my days as an in-house editor. We’d seen a non-fiction proposal from Ms. Writer and thought it was a bit raw, yet had terrific potential. Our editorial team decided to take a risk on her. A few months later, Ms. Writer delivered her manuscript. I was the editor on...
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Guest Blogger: Michelle LaRowe Conover

How to Handle it When Things Go WrongIf you’re a published author, you know the excitement that rang through me as I saw my final copyedited manuscript arrive in my inbox when it chimed “you’ve got mail.” I eagerly opened up the email from the acquisitions editor at the publishing house, ready to sign off on this final version so that my manuscript could be moved on to typesetting. I’ve been through this process a few times before and expected that things would sail on as smoothly as they always had. I’d open the document, give it a quick read, and send it back with my approval. If the walls could talk, they’d have a lot of unflattering things to say about what happened next. As I began reading through the manuscript, I went into a full blown...
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Guest Blogger: Andy Meisenheimer

I took a bunch of your questions from the past few weeks and ran them past Andy Meisenheimer, fiction editor at Zondervan. Here’s what he had to say. Question: What are some of your personal pet peeves in publishing? Could be in regards to proposals, plotlines, heroine’s eye color, the semi-colon, anything. Andy says: Google me and it seems that’s all I’ve ever talked about. I’ll give you the sum up: proposals should be stories, well-told; semicolons are beautiful things; italics are a gift and a curse; eye color better mean something if I have to read about it; plot arises from character; beats are not meaningless movements—they are the actor acting; “said” is practical and invisible; withhold all but the essential; subjectivity is not always the...
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