But Can They Sell It?

Yesterday, Pam sent a question about Tuesday’s post on The Process of Acceptance: Rachelle said: “At Pub Board, the sales and marketing people usually have the final say about whether to accept the book for publication or not. They have to strongly believe they can sell it.” This is the part that confuses me. If a house has good sales people, shouldn’t they be able to take a book and sell it? After all, it’s their job. It seems that when a sales person says, “I don’t know if I can sell it,” that negatively reflects on their ability to be a sales person. I don’t mean to sound snarky – it really does confuse me. It’s my job to learn and grow as a writer, to write and rewrite until my words sing. Why isn’t the sales...
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Ask the Agent: The Process of Acceptance

Laurie wrote: A publisher requested my manuscript several months ago. I suspect he’s passed it to someone else to read. Does the reader make a report? Is it discussed by a committee? I’m wondering if my “precious” writing is on a shelf somewhere or being used as a convenient footrest under someone’s desk. All I know is calling them is a big no-no at this point. I’m supposed to (gulp…) WAIT. Laurie, you bring up one of the most difficult aspects of this business—for writers, editors, agents, everyone. It can take a long time to get a manuscript read and get a decision on it. The answer to the question (Where is my manuscript?) is I don’t know. Most likely it’s sitting in a stack on someone’s desk, or a virtual stack in...
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What You Don’t Know

I was talking with one of my clients who is currently in the midst of a two-book contract with a major CBA house. This is her first book deal and although she’d spent many years networking with authors and publishing types, she’s been shocked by how much she didn’t know about publishing before she signed her contract. I asked her, what were the things she didn’t know? She said: → I didn’t know what ARCs were. (Advance Reader Copies, distributed to media prior to publication to try and get reviews in time for pub.) → I didn’t know I was supposed to be my own publicist… without stepping on the toes of my publisher’s publicist. (This is a common issue with my writer friends.) → I didn’t know that thing about the manuscript being officially...
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When a Publisher Makes an Offer

I’ve been writing a lot of posts geared toward the unpublished author. But I know many of you are published, or at least agented, and hopefully the rest of you are getting closer to publication, so you have questions about the process after you receive an offer from a publisher. I’m going to start interspersing these kinds of posts more often. So first things first… today I want to talk about what happens when a publisher actually makes an offer on your book. This wonderful day could occur anywhere from about three weeks to a year or more after your agent has first submitted to publishers. What happens next depends on a couple of factors: whether there are multiple publishers interested in your book, and how close the offer is to what the agent thinks is a realistic or...
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Guest Blogger: Brad Lewis

Editing Definitions A few years ago, a well-published author contracted with me to work on some additional books he wanted to get in the publishing pipeline. Because I’m a freelance/contract editor and we’d met when a publisher hired me to work on several of this author’s books, I presumed we came to this project with a mutual understanding of what each of us would do. Boy, was I wrong! We agreed on one thing: the fee for the first book. But we had very different views about what we each thought we’d get for the money! I thought I’d be doing a light developmental and line edit of the manuscript as I’d done on his previous books. But instead, this author sent me a very rough and incomplete file—some in just outline form. And he expected me to completely revise and rewrite...
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Ask the Agent: Query Publisher or Agent?

Chatty Kelly asked a common question on Friday: Why would you query an agent over a publisher? What are the pros & cons? Okay, in the first place, fewer and fewer publishers are accepting unagented submissions. So if you want to get published, it’s becoming less viable to do it without an agent. Agents are the accepted gatekeepers in the industry. One of our jobs is to cull through the thousands of submissions and bring the publishers the ones we think are the best. It’s the way the industry works now. So most writers are better off with an agent. However, most publishers are still taking submissions from writers they’ve met in person at a conference. That’s still an option. Many writers are still getting their first book deal without an agent. But you might...
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The Editorial Process

Several of you have been curious about the editorial process inside a publishing house. Rosslyn asked:What is the role of freelance editors in the publishing process these days? I’ve noticed cases recently in which published authors had in-house editors AND freelance editors working on their novels. Do publishing houses hire these freelancers, or do the authors do it? Why do publishers or authors hire a freelancer when a novel already has an in-house editor? Then Katy expounded:If a contracted novel has, say, three editors working on it, do they all do the whole book separately and simultaneously? And then does the author have to compare notes from all three of them in order to figure out the fixes?Every publisher has their own process, and they may call each step of the process by...
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All About Timing

Today I want to share a couple of tidbits about timing in the publishing business. First, we’re now about ten days away from the ICRS convention, which is where many people involved in Christian publishing will be from around July 11 to 17. This may seem irrelevant if you’re not going to be there, but it’s not. The important thing to realize is that from now until about two weeks after the convention, you’ll find it difficult or impossible to get a response on anything from anyone in CBA. That’s an entire month. If you’ve got queries out, or if you’re expecting a response on a proposal, it’s unlikely you’ll hear back in the next month. If you have a project out on submission in publishing houses, again, don’t hold your breath for...
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Ask the Agent: Having It Made

How about shedding some light on whether getting published and “having it made” are synonymous. It seems to be the feeling among writers that once you get a contract and have a book or two published, all you have to do is run up a decent proposal and your publisher will buy it. I hear rumors that some successfully published authors have had subsequent proposals turned down. Does this happen often? And when it does, what is the most common reason? Hahahahaha….. I bet a number of our published Rants & Ramblings readers would LOVE to take on this question! Speak up, those of you who are published. Do you “have it made”? Clearly the answer to this question depends on your definition of having it made. If you mean “my lifelong goal of being published...
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Guest Blogger: Timothy Fish

Regular Rants & Ramblings visitor Timothy sent the following thoughts on Experience versus Passion: A writer spends weeks putting together the perfect manuscript. The author believes it is good, but agents and editors reject the work. It isn’t long before writers begin to look for a way to get their work of art noticed by the decision makers. In places like conferences, blogs and forums, writers spend a lot of time talking about how to get published. Even when discussing how to write, many writers are concerned primarily with what it takes to get published. Learn the rules; follow the advice of a successful author and you too can be a published author. At least that is what many seem to think. Many people would like to think that a published author can tell them how to produce a...
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Agenting & Editing – Part Deux

Last week I explained that it’s not considered ethical for literary agents to benefit financially from the editing of their clients’ books. (Agents should not profit from their clients in any way except for selling the rights to their books.) As part of my mission to clear up some misconceptions about how WordServe operates, I wrote to the Preditors & Editors website, which had WordServe listed with an “Editing Advisory” in red next to our name. I explained the same things I wrote in my blog post and asked them to verify our legitimacy by looking at our website where we list some of our authors and recent sales. I’m VERY happy to report that the editor of Preditors & Editors was extremely gracious and after verifying our agency’s record, he...
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Does the System Work?

Last week, Christine posted a comment in response to Monday’s blog post, “Dreams” and I thought it would be interesting for you to weigh in on her thoughts. As you might guess, I have my opinion (and if you’re really nice I’ll consider sharing it), but I thought it would be more interesting to hear YOUR responses first. Here is a portion of her comment: ***I personally find it strange that writers are out looking for agents than the other way round. In a business, you produce your product and market it to the masses, who pay you for the product. A writer produces a product and has to search the world for that one person to accept it, who has to find another to get it out to the masses. Writers appear as employees rather than the boss of their business. A...
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ASK THE AGENT: How I Get Clients

“How do you get most of your clients?” As you know, I’m in a “building” phase of this agenting gig, actively looking for clients. It’s been about three months and I’ve brought 16 writers into the agency. I thought you might find it interesting to know how I got each one. Obviously a great deal of my time is spent culling through queries and searching for that one special book. But percentage-wise, only about a third of my business (so far) has come in over the transom. The rest came through referrals from people I know in the business. Here’s a rundown so far: Client #1: This is the first project I sold, a two-book deal on a women’s self-help project. She queried my colleague Greg Johnson and he passed it on to me. So it was over the...
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How Long Will It Take?

One of the most frequent questions I get is, How long? How long should I wait before following up with an editor 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 months. If...
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