5 Things Publishers Care about More than Good Writing

[box border=”full”]Brooke is giving away 2 copies of What’s Your Book? this week. Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway at the end of this post by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Friday, October 26, 2012. Open to residents of US & Canada.[/box]

by Brooke Warner

Many aspiring authors are naïve about what it takes to get published in today’s publishing climate. I know, this is a harsh way to start a post, but over the course of my 13 years in book publishing, I’ve found this to be true.

Recently, a reader told me my new book, What’s Your Book?, was sobering when it came to the part about getting published. And that’s because I want writers to be armed with the right information so that they have a shot at getting traditionally published if that’s what they want.

Being savvy about getting published, for better or for worse, means becoming a bit dispassionate. The relationship you’ll eventually have with your publisher is not one in which they do (or want to do) a whole lot of hand-holding. Publishers (understandably) want to work with authors who bring to the table not just a good manuscript, but marketing and publicity ideas and initiative. You don’t have to be a marketing expert, by any means, but you do need to understand how much it matters.

So, in the spirit of dispassion, here are 5 things publishers care about more than good writing.

  1. Your platform. I have an entire chapter of my book dedicated to platform because it’s central to getting a publishing deal. It means having a great website complete with a blog and being active on social media—with a decent number of followers (at least 500 for Facebook and 1,000 for Twitter to make an impact). Your platform is about increasing your visibility, and because, as an author, you’re up against a lot of competition in the marketplace, you must grow your visibility, and you must do it before you start shopping your book to agents or publishers.
  2. Your connections. If you don’t have a database, start one now. The number of people you’re connected to or have the capacity to reach should be a highlight of your book proposal if you’re writing nonfiction, or your pitch letter if you’re writing fiction. Your connections are more than your social media following. These are people you can sell to, who will be the shoo-in buyers of your book when the time comes. If you know the only shoo-ins you have are you’re friends and family, you need to start tending to your database.
  3. Your can-do attitude. You can showcase this in your pitch, in your proposal, and in the simple existence of a strong online presence. You need to come to the table with enthusiasm, but be realistic. Hype-y language will not get you very far with agents and editors who know the world of books. A can-do attitude is expressed on the page by writing about your willingness to try new things, to reach out to everyone you know, and to think outside the box. For a good example of this, see the sample marketing ideas proposed in the Marketing/Publicity section of “Create a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal.
  4. Your professionalism. Do a lot of heavy-lifting before you start shopping your book. Get an assessment. Work with a professional. Spend money to be edited, multiple times. Many authors will work with a developmental editor, a copyeditor, and a proofreader before they shop their work to an agent. Does this cost money? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.
  5. Your ability to be collaborative. Again, you can showcase this in writing by talking about how collaborative you are in your proposal or your pitch, and the energy behind what you say will go a long way. Think of it this way: no one wants to work with someone who’s going to be a hassle. Prepare yourself to be a good partner on the journey that is getting your book published. You need to look out for your interests, of course, but the notion that some writers still harbor, that the publisher is somehow getting an asset when they sign a new author, is off-base. A book is a liability until it sells well (at least until it earns out its advance)—and all parties, but most especially the author, have to work their butts off to make it an asset.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jen Molander Photography

Brooke Warner is founder of Warner Coaching Inc. and publisher of She Writes Press. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing, and she is an equal advocate for publishing with a traditional house and self-publishing. What’s Your Book? is her first book, and she’s honored to be publishing on She Writes Press.
 
 
Find Brooke online:
www.warnercoaching.comwww.shewritespress.comFacebookTwitterPinterest

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Writing Contest Finalists – Vote For Your Favorite

Writing Contest Top 10Special thanks to the writing contest judges, Dan and Jenny, for evaluating this year’s writing contest entries. I know you’re all dying to find out which entries made the cut, so here they are:

A. A Good Story
B. Afterlife
C. Frying Pans and Fires
D. Mask of Innocence
E. Sally
F. The Farmhouse
G. The Gnome Conundrum
H. The Lemonade Dialogues
I. The Unobliging Princess
J. The Voicebox

Congrats to those of you moving on to the online voting portion, and a huge, heartfelt thanks to every one of you who participated!


In case you’ve forgotten, the prizes up for grabs for  first, second, and third place include:

  • First Place: $100 Amazon.com gift card and a copy of Scrivener software for writers.
  • Second Place: $50 Amazon.com gift card and a copy of Scrivener software for writers.
  • Third Place: $25 Amazon.com gift card and 50% of Scrivener software for writers.

Vote For Your Favorite

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Since the finalists are being announced a day late, I’m extending the online voting period just to make sure everything is as fair as possible. To vote, you must make your selection by October 24, 2012 at 12:00 noon Eastern. (One vote allowed per IP.)

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5 Unavoidable Creative Writing Quirks

By Megan Harris

creative writing quirksWriters are notoriously peculiar people. We have different ways of telling the same story and a variety of characters to help us. We might write for clients that appreciate our vision and appetite for the written word. Here are some quirks writers have a hard time escaping. Perhaps you’ll recognize yourself in these quirks!

Talking to Yourself

Writers might not admit it, but creative writing often involves speaking out loud. I find that I do this not only in my fiction writing, but writing for my freelance clients as well.

People around me might think writers are crazy when we do this, especially when working in public around strangers, but it helps in many ways. Not only can you find better ways to write, but you can change awkward wording you didn’t realize was there from the beginning. Try it! It might be a quirk you come to love.

Writing Out of Order

It’s very rare that I can start writing from beginning to end. Usually, I begin writing from the middle and fill in the gaps as I go. I’m sure other writers do the same thing…right?

Writing out of order makes sense to me and to other writers as well. I don’t think in a linear fashion when it comes to writing articles, so working from the middle outwards makes perfect sense. Whatever I happen to be writing works better if I wait to write the beginning. Plus, getting too attached to the beginning of a story makes it difficult to move forward. Beginning with the body paragraphs can help you develop your introduction and entice writers to read the rest of your story or article.

Continuous Revisions

Maybe it’s just a quirk specific to me as a writer, but I find myself constantly changing dialogue or reworking scenes when I write. Same with blog posts; I write, revise, and repeat. It’s a hard habit to break, but the editor in me likes to correct as I go. Same with my freelance articles for clients; what I begin with is not often the same as the end result, but that is a good thing.

Scrapping the Story

Have you ever written a story, only to completely scrap it? That was me last year during NaNoWriMo. I wrote about 20,000 words before I realized my story was going nowhere, so I abandoned the idea. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve done it! Writers are usually critical of their writing, and even the good ones can judge their work harshly.

It might be a weird quirk, but sometimes writers just have to realize when a story is going nowhere.

Commiserating with Other Writers

Writers everywhere often find themselves in conversation with other writers about their ideas. This might include talking about the progress with our current manuscripts and articles, and the scenes we’re trying to write. It’s a quirk that goes back well before social media, but it’s one that writers are likely to keep going for a long time.

Writers and their controlled chaos may not always make sense, but it helps the creative process and leads to better writing. So what if we’re quirky? We embrace it!

[box border=”full”]megan harrisMegan Harris is a freelance copywriter, editor and social media manager. She writes about the freelance life at MeganWrites.com and likes to motivate others with her story of how she became an independent writer. When she’s not writing, she researches her family tree in her spare time and is earning her Masters in Public Administration at University of Illinois-Springfield. You can also connect with Megan on Twitter or her Facebook page.[/box]