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Saturday, January 2, 2010

A strategy for the New Year



For many writers the goal for the New Year is to get published. Any worthwhile goal should have a viable strategy to get there. What might such a strategy look like? The first and most important thing is to effectively target who we want to approach.

Just going down the Writer’s Digest and picking names to submit to is a recipe for failure. The odds of such a cold-call submission succeeding is very slim, but what do we have to lose, right? Actually what we have to lose is burning bridges that with the right approach might be a successful contact. But once we have managed to successfully secure a rejection, that avenue is gone.

No, successful contacts are not made with publishing houses, but rather with editors, and ideally with editors or agents that we have managed to establish some sort of contact with. This is the difficult part of making submissions, finding the right people and knowing WHY they are the right person to submit to. The best way is by identifying what projects they have been involved in that makes us believe they are right for our project. Not just the house, but the right editor.

Ninety per cent of making a successful submission is targeting the right person to send it to. The majority of such submissions aren’t successful and the reason on a high number of them is they simply are not sent to the right person or to a specific person at all. “To Whom it May Concern” submissions are quite likely to draw a “To Whom it May Concern” response which is not likely to be favorable.

If we have effectively targeted the right place to go, then the next step is a great query letter and proposal. These are the sales documents for our books. Occasionally I have someone say “I don’t want to put a proposal together, that’s what I want an agent for.” I wish them luck. I can only take a few of the many submissions that are made to me and they are going to be people who have given me a terrific proposal that shows me how strong a sales pitch can be made on the project. I’ll never know a project as good as the author, so the starting point for me has to be a good proposal.

So the strategy is good targeting, a very professional pitch and proposal, (I have an ebook at my website on ‘Pitch and Promote like a Pro’ at www.terryburns.net if you need help ) and finally we need patience. At any given time, even with good research and targeting, our project may only fit at a single place in the industry. Within a short period of time it may only fit at ANOTHER specific place. That means making a good connection will by definition entail a lot of misses and near misses. Too many people don’t understand and get discouraged when it is simply the process of finding the right match. Those who publish have the patience to see it through, learn the editing that is required, and get the training they need to grow in their craft.

So what is your goal for 2010? And have you formulated a strategy to give you the best shot at achieving it?

5 comments:

Caroline said...

Terry, appreciated your blog to prod us to do our best!

Renee said...

Wise words, Terry.

Last year my goal was to query agents and editors. I did that but only half-heartedly. This year, I have two manuscripts with completed first drafts that are in need of revisions. One is much cleaner than the other. I have a third that is 90% of the way complete. My goal this year, Lord willingly, is to make them as clean as possible in a timely manner without rushing them, and then we'll see what will happen.

patriciazell said...

My main writing goals this year are to finish writing my book online and to promote my brand. My strategy is to use social media to get my name and brand out "there" and to participate in as many blogs as I can. I am also going to research how to break into the "commercial" world with my brand and see if God will open doors for me in that venue.

writer jim said...

My goal is to work hard at trying to write exactly what I believe God wants of me.
My strategy is to TRUST God for all results, however He chooses to bring them to pass.
My hope is that WE CHRISTIANS will rise up and DO something FOR GOD...to rescue our nation.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Thank you, Terry. I always grow from your posts.

When I was in labor with my first child, I thought that was the worst pain a human could endure. Then I began writing proposals for my books. Aha.

Because the Lord loves to show grace in the midst of bungling efforts, my two kids grew into splendid adults. I trust Him to favor my literary labors as well.


May 2010 be your greatest year of walking with Him, Terry, and may all your babies make you proud.