What do they want from us?
I heard this often at the conferences I attended this year. And I understand the frustration, but let's face it, they have bosses, too. They have to answer for the decisions they make. So what do they want from the agents and authors?
It's actually more simple than you think:
A terrific story that can't be put down and a strong platform.
But isn't the story enough? If I've written an amazing story that meets all the publisher's requirements and the editor loves it, won't the house take it?
There is a glut of authors. We are living in a time when computers and outreach have made it much easier for a person to sit down and crank out a novel. Will it be the best? Not necessarily, but the sheer numbers make the editors' jobs more difficult. With companies downsizing, an editor must look at more work than in the past, often relying on readers who may or may not have the same ability as the editor to discern a great work. And then, even if the editor loves the work, what happens next?
The work must pass the pub/acquisitions board. Additional editors, sales and marketing folks will enter the picture to decide whether or not they can make sales happen with a particular book. And what is a good indication that the author will be able to help in these sales?
You've got it! Platform, and a strong one. The author will have to be part of the sales plan. Authors need to be able to step in and help the dwindling marketing money from the publishing house. And how does an author do that?
-does the author take every opportunity to speak to organizations in his or her area of expertise? If the novel is historic, does the author take the chance to speak to historic organizations? Schools? Libraries?
-does the author present at conferences in his or her community. As part of national organizations?
-does the author have a strong online presence? Website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest? Does he or she interact with comments on his blog?
-does she offer book giveaways, partake in blog tours?
-does she attend conferences, taking every opportunity to network with other authors, agents, editors?
Editors! What do they want from us?
Alas, they want the chance to sell us to their bosses. They want to be able to take that terrific novel and move it to the next step. THEY WANT TO HELP US! If only we help ourselves in the beginning by putting all of our business in order before approaching them.
Can you blame them?
It is a hard sell for them...just like it is for us!
Do your best to make their job easier. Write the amazing story, but be prepared to build your platform as well, not AFTER the offer, but before so that you stand a stronger chance of getting the offer in the first place. A good story is no longer enough...but you can do it!
You CAN do it!