Monday, February 16, 2015

That Dream of a Book Deal Isn't As Unlikely As You Think

I have a theory that's been banging back and forth inside my head for many, many years. A post by Harold Underdown and another by Ryan Dalton on this very blog fed this theory further, to the point that I decided to dedicate today's post to specific things that make traditional publishing a little less hopeless.

Most writers, unfortunately, will fail to traditionally publish their book. The statistics don't lie, and I can't manipulate the numbers to say otherwise. I can, however, tell you there are often solid reasons why writers fail in this respect. It's not a conspiracy or a fate left exclusively to a dice roll. There are specific things that hold writers back, and your chances of success increase exponentially by making a few small decisions.

Here are a few:

1) Submit smarter

A lot of agents say the number one reason they reject queries is because they don't represent the type of book the author submitted. Other times it's abundantly clear the author didn't research the agency. There are hundreds of queries sent every day by aspiring authors who submit willy-nilly without bothering to check who they're submitting to.

If you simply do your research and submit to agents who are a good match for your book, you are putting yourself ahead of hundreds of other submissions. You have just lifted yourself above a ton of slush, and you barely even broke a sweat.

My advice? Before hitting send on a submission, ask yourself why the recipient is the right person for your story. If it takes longer than ten seconds to answer that question, submit somewhere else.

2) Listen, listen, and listen some more

If you get a rejection that says something more specific than "not right for us", do a backflip. If it says something horribly offensive and insulting about your work, do a backflip, howl at the moon, and then ask yourself if maybe, just maybe, this person who spends their whole day in front of words might have a point about your humongous plot hole or unlikeable one-dimensional narrator.

3) Look Ahead

No matter what happens, don't stop writing. I kept the rejection blues away by always having something new to submit before I gave up on a previous project. If you're always looking ahead, the constant barrage of "not right for us" is a lot less depression-inducing.

4) Don't Get Mad at Successful Writers

Seriously, this is a huge waste of your time, patience, and happiness. It doesn't matter that "pedestrian writers" are selling insane amounts of books and you can't figure out why.

They are not stealing your audience. They are not the reason you haven't sold your book. Nobody is looking for a 50 SHADES, TWILIGHT, or HARRY POTTER clone right now. The very idea makes most agents and editors sick, because they get that kind of stuff every day. They are looking for the next book they fall in love with, and it won't have anything to do with wizards engaging in BDSM with sparkling vampires.

So all that anger for bestselling authors festering inside you -- Let It Go. You have better things to do.

5) Most importantly, be honest when you write

Don't write what's cool. Don't write what you think will sell. It isn't, and it won't. Write like yourself. This job is hard enough without wearing a mask.

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Mike Grosso is the author of I AM DRUMS, a debut contemporary middle grade for musicians of all ages. It is currently orphaned due to the closing of Egmont USA but is on its way to finding a new home. The Fall Fifteeners have been nice enough to let him hang out in the meantime.

You can visit Mike's website or follow him on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. So true, Mike! All such great advice. I especially have a hard time with #3 - looking ahead. I find it so hard not to just stall when I'm waiting for news.