Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Personal Preferences and Markets by Diana L. Flegal

  "Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched. Prefer the concrete word to the abstract. Prefer the single word to the circumlocution. Prefer the short word to the long."
—Henry Watson Fowler

Seeing this quote again at the end of an editors signature in an email reminded me why we have so many agents and Publishing houses to represent and sell books to.

At The Worship Studio's Monday night small group here in the River Arts district of Asheville NC we are continuing to learn about the specifics related to our unique giftings. Pattie Ann Hale asked us this question last time we met: Do you tend to hang out with those with similar gifts or those that you minister to with yours?

It was interesting to hear the various answers. Many of us said we prefer to have as our best friends and go to people those that 'got us' and shared our similar traits. For instance if one person was a high energy gifted (Prophet or Exhorter) they preferred to be around high energy people. But we all did agree that we have a variety of good friends of many 'flavors'. Primarily because the body of Christ is comprised of such.

Publishers all have their  strengths. They excel at publishing and selling certain genres and are known for this. This is a guide to us agents as to how we choose where to send a manuscript to. One editor said she does not do icky. I am guessing from what I know about her she is a mercy or servant primarily. Tenderhearted and compassionate. When she rejects a manuscript- she is generally kind and offers suggestions and sufficient reasons so the author will have something to move forward with. I appreciate her so much. Another editor always compliments us on a well done proposal and the uniqueness of the title, stating he wishes he could take it on. Affirming and helpful. I am guessing he is an exhorter. Some editors send agents form rejection letters. Or a few words expressing it is not a fit. I am thinking they might be a ruler or prophet. Busy bottom line people. All excel at their jobs, use their gifting in a way that pays their bills and meets a need for others.

The downturn in the economy had many publishers trying new things. Houses that had been primarily built on nonfiction titles- tried fiction and romance in particular. But they soon found out they did not know how to market this genre as well as the nonfiction. Lately we have seen a few large houses go back to their roots and strengths.

As writers, sometimes you are told by others, "You need to try to write this or that- the market is hungry for it. And you try, but frustration is your reward. As an agent, I have my likes and strengths. As mentioned last week, I am not one for the 70,000 word nonfiction. Give it to me in 45,000 to 50,000 words or less. I am always after the bottom line or takeaway. In romance, I struggle with the flowery prose and prefer the short romances to the long unless you have captured me in a great story line. Even then, I tend to advise my clients to 'not over do it'. :-) For me it is all about the story.

This year as I speak to my authors and spend time in introspection and personal discovery, I see this as a theme. A reversion back to what we know is our sweet spot. The crazy market and economy had set many of us in panic mode. We prayed and tried new things. Now we are allowing ourselves to refocus, to trust God regardless of sales and publishing contracts, to write and represent what we are the best fit for.

How has this been your experience and how may we pray for you as you transition?



Jennifer Major said...

"We prayed and tried new things. Now we are allowing ourselves to refocus, to trust God regardless of sales and publishing contracts, to write and represent what we are the best fit for."

Well. Wasn't that a kick in the pants?

I've been a wee bit concerned that the CBA was growing weary of stories that were meant for comfy armchairs, pots of tea and a box of tissues.
I KNOW God did not call me to write 3 disasters and an ending, a kiss for good measure and bow at the end for the HEA fans.

That quote of your reminds me to stay the course, that there is a market and a hunger for a story that sweeps across years and cultures and holds out for the blessings brought by escape, adventure, and the moment the hero finds his Colt and fights back against suffering.

I needed this today, thank you, Diana.

Andrea Cox said...

Hi Diana,

I recently began reading the blog on Hartline's website and appreciate such open-minded views as yours in today's article.

Thank you for your encouraging words. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. It's how we cope with them that matters. Do we let our weaknesses stop us from reaching for our dreams? Do we allow our strengths to stop us from learning the things that are hard for us? Or do we figure out a good balance between the two extremes? I'd like to think I fit into the last category (the one finding the good balance). Each day brings its own challenges, and I hope I face them with courage and grace.

I'm getting closer to the time to submit my manuscript to agents for representation. I would appreciate any prayers for my future agent and myself to both be open-minded and willing to learn from each other, to work together well, and to always keep the goal of pleasing God at the center of things. Thank you so much!



Diana said...

Andrea, that is exactly the right attitude to have.
Excellence should be our goal. And baby stepping our way there is the best way to grow. I always think of the turtle and the hare. Shortcuts or being in a hurry are not going to result in success or a well written book.

We will be praying for you as you get close to submitting your material.

Andrea Cox said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Diana. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and prayers (along with those of your fellow agents).