Thursday, May 28, 2015

The importance of personal taste by Terry Burns

Well, it isn't actually about eating.

I often find myself discussing with clients why I like their book so much but seem to be having trouble finding a place for it.

One of the biggest factors is a matter of taste.

For me to take a project on to represent there are a lot of factors involved but one of the largest is I have to really like the book. Well, duh, pretty hard to sell something you don't like. But just because I like a manuscript doesn't mean editors I submit it to are going to have the same taste in books.

Therein lies the rub.

I spend a lot of my time looking at what various acquisition editors are acquiring trying to get a feel for what I think their personal tastes are. Oh, but that still isn't the whole picture. Just because that editor likes a book doesn't mean those who sit on a committee, or those who have a final say on what is acquired have the same taste.

But there's more. More? Indeed there is. These people making acquisition decisions are trying to anticipate and cater to the taste of someone else, the reading public. They are looking to find and produce books their readers will like and will purchase.

So all I have to do is find out what readers want to read and those books are what I should be representing regardless of my personal taste? If it were that easy the answer would probably be yes. But the taste of the reading public changes and at any given time even industry professionals can't agree on what readers want.

So I'm stuck with finding projects I genuinely like and would like to see make it out in the marketplace. Then try to find or convince an editor to agree with me. I'll admit it is easier to try and do that with editors that give me feedback on projects I send them other than "just not a fit." When I know what they do or don't like and the reasons for it, that helps me to find something which MIGHT be a fit for them.

But the bottom line is . . . it's a matter of taste.

1 comment:

Linda Glaz said...

Amen, and like a cycle, it has to first please the family and friends, then the critters, then an agent, then an editor, and finally some readers. For those who think, "I'm gonna write a book!" and expect crazy results without the research and perseverance are really looking for miracles. It's a process like everything else. I was so guilty of expecting miracles when I started writing...sigh...but fortunately my, ahem, agent, set me straight. Thanks for all you do and all the wisdom, Terry!