How To Grab The Attention Of a Publisher
Learn a secret that could win you a publishing contract
Ever wonder why some authors get published and others don’t? Even the not-so-good authors? Is there a method to the madness? Absolutely. Can you make the system work for you? Without question. Here is how you do it…
In order to get a deal with a big publisher, you must possess personality and credibility. Publishers believe readers are drawn to the author’s name, not exactly the book (or heaven forbid the book topic). Publishers are interested in authors who can sell books, not change lives, not teach a valuable lesson, and not benefit mankind as we know it. Publishers want to sell books.
And why is that? Books are a dying breed. With the creation of the Internet and growing popularity of ebooks, book dealers are struggling to stay alive. In order to be competitive, booksellers must negotiate steep wholesale discounts and promote consignment agreements whenever possible. As you can imagine, profit margins are small. This only adds pressure to overworked, and often underpaid, editors who have to sift through their slush piles for the next ‘it’ book. Publishers, as in all forms of business, want to get the most bang for their buck, with minimal monetary investment. And who can blame them? But now that you know what their motivation is, you can use this to your benefit.
One word many aspiring authors will hear is ‘platform’. But what is a platform? Simply put; a platform is your image or reputation. A great example of a successful author platform belongs to Ann Rice. Rice is renown for her vampire series. Her collection of work is so extensive, she is often referred to as the queen of her genre. Her reputation is her platform.
Still fuzzy on the notion? Let’s look at a different kind of platform. Queen Latifah has written several books. However, her writing skills are not what she is widely known for. Queen Latifah is known as a rapper turned actress. Her celebrity image is her platform.
So the burning question is: what is your platform?
Creating a solid platform is critical. In order to get noticed by a big publisher, you must be seen as marketable first, talented second. Remember, a publisher’s motivation is to sell a product. So if an editor is faced with green-lighting a book about ‘raising a child with Autism’ vs. ‘shopping tips from Paris Hilton’, take a wild guess which book has a higher chance of getting published? Let me make this easy for you; not the self-help book.
Imagine you’re an editor for a large New York publisher. You’ve just been handed two manuscripts. Both are 300+ page science fiction novels. Both are moderately written and have the potential to sell if properly marketed to their niche audience. The difference is one author happens to be a 45 year old male who lives in Kentucky with his wife and 3 dogs. The other author is a 15 year old girl who lives in Pittsburg with her parents. Now, as an editor, which one of these writers sounds more appealing? Which one would you consider extending a contract to?
Note: Keep in mind, I haven’t presented details about the actual book.
Chances are, you are more interested in the teenage girl. Why? Because she is more marketable. Her age alone presents an interest in learning more about her. Regardless of the subject of her book, she could be marketed in the Young Adult genre (a market that is currently booming). Also, because of her age, we are more likely to forgive certain errors (i.e.: rough character development or strange POV transitions). But why? Because her platform is more engaging.
So how can you, an aspiring author, get noticed by a major publisher? Answer. Sell your platform. Editors want to know about you as an author. What makes you interesting? Why did you write your novel? What inspired you? Everyone has something unique about them that sets them apart from the crowd. Your personal story is just as important as your book. Your job is to exploit your story to the highest degree. Like your readers, editors need to be schmoozed. Who better to seduce a reader than you? You’re a writer, after all. So write!
Now you might be thinking, “I’m a new author. No one has heard of me.”
You can easily change that. You don’t have to be an award winning author to establish yourself. Editors recognize not every author has 20 books under his/her belt. Sometimes all it takes is some weird fact that can change an ordinary author bio into something phenomenal.
The key is to create a bio that a publisher can sink his/her teeth into. Mention your strange but interesting qualities. Did you make an unusual career change to become a writer? Did a life changing event inspire you to write your novel? Perhaps how you came up with the story for your manuscript is your interesting twist. Don’t forget Stephenie Meyer came up with the idea to write Twilight based on a dream she had.
As an author, I realize talking about yourself is a difficult task. Nothing is more deflating than having to draft 2-3 paragraphs about how great you are. A good resource is Katharine Sands’ Making the Perfect Pitch: How To Catch a Literary Agent's Eye. There are several examples available that are certain to get your creative juices flowing. The point here is to convince the editor/agent you are on your way up, and if they want to represent you, they had better do it soon.
-Tiffany Ashley, Author
‘Romance’s Best Kept Secret’
If you found this article helpful please read, How To Find the Right Publisher.