Hello writers, hope all is going well on your writing adventures! I’m very excited to report that a couple projects I was working on have been published recently. “Try Not to Suck,” a biography of Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon that I had the pleasure to work on as an editor, was just released this week. Also, a wonderful piece of fiction called “Son of Influence” that I helped with was also released. Moreover, a few other works of mine are currently either with publishers or in the pitching process. Very exciting times!
I’ve also had the pleasure to work with some fine aspiring authors, offering consultations to help them get their projects up and running. I can’t wait to see some of these projects come to fruition. If you have a book that you need help with, whether it’s organizing, writing, pitching or publishing, get in touch with me as I can help!
In the meantime, I’ve decided that for my next few blogs, I’m going to release some tips about breaking in as a new author that come not just from my experience, but also from conversations with agents, publishers and other writers. I’ve learned that there are essentially five things you can show publishers with your work that will help set you apart and show them that not only do you have a good idea, but you also understand the business. Speaking of ideas…
FIVE TIPS TO BREAKING IN WITH A PUBLISHER – TIP #1: THE IDEA
The first, and arguably the most important, is that you have to show them a GOOD IDEA!
Well, uhh, yeah, that makes sense, right? But it goes a little further than you think. Yes, the book idea, whether its fiction or nonfiction, has to be interesting, intriguing and unique. It has to be something that can grab a reader right away and hold onto them throughout. Remember that reading a book is a commitment of time and you need to get a reader willing to make that commitment. In a go-go-go world, that’s becoming tougher and tougher. The only way to do it is to offer them something compelling that they haven’t seen before. Your book, your idea, has to be a good idea with mass appeal that’s all your own.
BUT…publishers also want to see how your idea compares to others of the same ilk that have done well. They want to see that your idea might share some common traits with hit books in the same genre, traits that they can exploit to the same audience. There are reasons these books were popular and they want to see that your idea can also cash in on that popularity. One of the elements of a pitch package a publisher will often ask you for is comparative titles. They want to see where your book falls on the spectrum, how it relates to other titles that have sold and sold well.
That’s the trick. They want your work to fall within a popular category that has a built in audience, but also to be something they’ve never seen before. Needless to say, that leaves you with a tight window. But, if you can pull this off, it’ll intrigue them enough to explore the possibility.
The “good idea” isn’t just a great story, it’s a great story that will sell. You have to always remember that these publishing companies are businesses and their first (only) priority is to make money. Your idea has to be something they think they can sell. It has to be fresh and new and exciting, something that captures their attention. It also has to be marketable. Know what’s out there. Know what’s selling. Know where your book fits in the market and highlight its strengths both as a potential force in the marketplace and as a one-of-a-kind book!