Monday, 27 June 2011

How to Get Published

Well, maybe not. How to get a publisher to take you seriously, at least.

Here's another submission email from an author (Just the first paragraph, the full email is very long):

Please forgive me if I am not following your existing submission rules, but by some reason I could not find them. Maybe by my indolence, mostly. I hope that even I did not follow them and you are likely overloaded by similar freaks like me you will find time to review my proposition.

Spot the problem?

The writer (a poet) has used words like 'forgive', 'indolence', 'freaks' etc. These are not good words to use. Let me explain why.

When you ask someone to like your poetry or come to your poetry reading, you might call yourself a freak and it might be funny for some people.

When you ask a publisher to invest in you, you are asking them to make a business decision. It is not easy to work with someone who puts themselves down, and it does not give a publisher faith or confidence in you if you do not show confidence in yourself.

Don't apologise. Submission guidelines are here for the publisher's benefit. It saves us having to ask the same questions every time someone sends a 'best selling' manuscript. But what we need is a solid reason to make a business investment. Whether we like something, personally, does not make a big difference. What is important is that we feel something will sell. Publishers are experts at getting a product to market, and that product is not your poetry, it is YOU.

So my advice is, before you contact publishers, think about your email or letter and show that you have confidence in yourself. Not arrogance, it does not help when an author offers us a book and says it is a guaranteed best seller because it's fantastic.

What is very important to remember is that the question of how good the book is really makes no difference to how well it will sell. You might think your book, or poems, are wonderful. Your friends might. Even we might like them. But the issues you must address are:

How well do people really know you? (Your name must sell the book)

What are you doing to promote yourself and your work?

Do you take your work seriously? (The writer's words suggest that he would like to but does not)

Remember, when you contact a publisher, you are not asking them to like your book. I can like your book without wanting to invest in you as an author.

The bottom line with any investor is that we want to know, "Will this investment show a return?"

And the answer doesn't lie within your books pages, it is within you.

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