the really old days (like 2005), agents and editors worked in fortresses
protected by dragons (really tough receptionists). Not any more. Not only have
these industry professionals stepped out into the world to meet and greet writers, they’ve
become the main attraction at writers' conferences.
Here's how it works.
You pay a fee for a 20-minute appointment to “pitch” your book, face-to-face, to an agent/editor looking for publishing projects (maybe just like yours) During your interview, they make the decision to either ask for a submission of your manuscript or not.
a great opportunity to sell your project!
many writers approach pitching with the same enthusiasm as they would feel when booking a root
canal. They harbor secret fears that the agent or editor will listen to them for a few moments, then
pull a lever to open a trap door in the floor that dumps them into a pit of snakes.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The folks you’re talking to want product
(manuscripts) to sell. They honestly want to hear about yours.
of the pitch as a verbal query with one major difference. The agent
will participate by asking questions about your project. They’ll
start with, “So, tell me about your manuscript.” That’s about as
threatening as it gets. You tell your story, focusing on the issues facing the protagonist. Just like in the query letter, begin with a few interesting
sentences that perk up the agent's ears.
The agent/editor will prompt you with questions as they try to understand the plot of your story and determine if you have created interesting characters (or not) that will carry the story from beginning to end.
you’ve scheduled a pitching session (s) at an upcoming writers’
conference, and want practice or coaching, I can help you prepare.Use the contact box on the Writers’ Services to describe your needs.)
writers, when they fail to interest agents or editors in their projects, turn
to self-publishing. That’s understandable. After you've written a book, you want your words to be published so others can enjoy your story.
what you may not be aware of is that a lack of positive response can be
caused by a variety of factors:
Your marketing documents (query, synopsis, first page) did an inadequate job of explaining
the saleability of the project.
2) Your manuscript may not be written well enough to interest the agent or editor.
The target market may be too limited to generate sufficient profit to make the
NOTE: Self-publishing requires that you make a cosmic shift and become a book designer, typesetter, and graphic artist. Not easy to do if you
don’t have the skills. To fill the gap, a rapidly expanding industry has
blossomed in recent years. Companies like CreateSpace.com, (a Print-on-Demand subsidiary
of Amazon) offer a variety of fee-based services: editing, book, and cover
design. Createspace goes the extra mile with competent customer
service reps who help you keep your book project moving along the path toward
publication as a paperback or ebook. (And no, I don't own stock in the company. At this point, it's the only one I can recommend.)
advantages of self-publishing include quick production—weeks instead of
months or years. This can be important if your topic is timely. Also, you'll receive higher royalties, and will be in total control of the show. Another big plus of print-on-demand publishing is that your books will be printed when you order them. You won’t have to turn your garage or dining room into a book-storage warehouse. (Your book will be listed with Amazon who handle shipping.)
major disadvantage of publishing on your own, is that, if you don’t hire
professionals to help you, your book will look home made. Self-published books are easy to
spot. Covers are unappealing and lack punch. The font (typeface) is small, difficult to read, and is crammed onto pages with narrow margins.
This is the reason retail bookstores don’t sell self-published books.
Going the traditional
route means that your book will look great with a professional cover, readable type, and comfortable margins that offer eye appeal. Your book will appear in the publishing company’s catalog. Depending on the topic, some book stores may stock it, especially if you’re available for events like panel discussions or book signings. Plus,
association with any publishing house automatically lifts you out of the
Marketing your book, creating a following, writing
articles, blogs, setting up interviews, attending book fairs etc., etc., etc.,
is basically the same whether you self-publish or go the traditional route.
Fortunately, there are many excellent books (and teachers) available that teach writers how to promote their work
in print and on-line.
Although methods of delivery will continue to evolve and expand (from books to ebooks to audio books to who knows what the future will bring). This is a great time to be a writer.