Filthy Rich or Rolling in It?
Self-publishing rarely brings in millions of dollars.
With Traditional Publishing, bringing in millions is rare as well, but we have a better chance at it.
Then Increase the Odds
Back when I was editing, to a [wo]man, a first-time author would exclaim after the editing process was over: “Thanks be! That was really hard.”
I would reply with: “To that comment, I always reply with: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Just wait.”
In order to get even a toe onto the threshold of almost every Traditional Publisher (TP), we need an agent.
In order to get an agent to consider anything we write, we must impress the bejeepers out of her/him.
The October 2015 issue of Writer’s Digest contains several articles on approaching, dealing with, and getting — seducing? — an agent. (The first step in seduction is to convince the other party that we have something they desire beyond all desires — whether they do or not. [insert winking smiley])
This means we have to send an agent the very best we can come up with so s/he can brag about us, excite the TP about our project. The best? Edited, edited, edited, then professionally edited; submitted using the standard MS format (12 point type, Times Roman font, double spaced, etc. — or … whatever that particular agent’s guidelines ask for).
Know the Rules
It’s vital that we check out each agent’s guidelines before we contact her/him the first time. Why before the first time? Aren’t we calling her/him to find out what s/he wants us to send?
Tsk, tsk. Lazy, lazy! What if I phone the agent on a Monday morning and her online guidelines specifically point out that she takes phone calls on Tuesdays only? Or not at all?
Agents don’t want to handle clients who are too lazy to do the work themselves. An agent’s job is to convince the TP to take me on. If my agent tells the TP: “Well, my client is busy with this and that, eh? She doesn’t have time to do all that fussy stuff,” what do you think the TP will say?
How Much Are these Potential Millions Worth to Me?
It’s not a matter of waving a magic wand and turning my pumpkin into a best seller. I have to learn how to build my own carriage in the first place and apply my absolute best attention to every detail to turn my pumpkin into a valuable, jewel-encrusted carriage — without costing the TP anything extra (like hiring more editors, especially).
I also have to learn how to not only design what a TP would wish for, but convince my Fairy Godmother that my particular carriage is exactly what any given TP would wish for. This will help my agent seduce the TP into buying it. (Yes, you’re hearing me correctly. We must pimp our projects, convince others to part with their money in order to have what they believe they desire beyond all desires.)
But I’m the one who has to do all the work:
- research the market for my particular genre/format;
- ensure that my project will cost a TP next to nothing to produce it (i.e., it’s been edited to the nth degree; set up in the proper format for publication (US or Canadian style, e.g.); most likely these days, be e-mail-able;
- and so on.
Always read the guidelines provided by every agent, every TP, every genre, every format …
From our side of things, it takes work not wishes.
Next Post — Indie-Publishing
Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them: http://www.amazon.com/Really-Stupid-Writing-Mistakes-Avoid/dp/1479308226
… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction): http://www.amazon.com/Death-lAcadie-Kesk8a-Sherrill-Wark/dp/1511501154/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8