Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Encourage a Book Editor to Approach YOU

I ended a recent post with a question: How does an author encourage a book editor to approach him or her about writing a book?

Sound a little grand?

Consider this. It is a fact that there is someone out there in the world right now who wants to publish a book similar to the one you're writing now (or the one you want to write). Is yours that book? That's not the topic of this post.

But there is a person out there right now, thinking about you, wondering where you are and if you're writing the next great American novel (or whatever)! So how do you make yourself easily accessible to that person? That is the topic of this post.

This question occurred to me as a good one to answer because most big book publishers have some variation of the following policy: "We do not accept unsolicited submissions," which usually means that they will only review new book proposals from a literary agent, or from writers that their editors approach specifically. Why is this? Simple. Publishers receive thousands of queries, proposals and manuscripts every week and it would be nearly impossible to sort through that much material without hiring an army of assistants and interns. Assistants and interns with a nose for good books.

So, other than nabbing a literary agent, how can you get the attention of your editor of choice? Well, most editors have a very clear idea of what they want to publish, and a routine for finding new writers and potential authors. Your job, once you've got your killer book proposal or manuscript polished and ready to send out, is to get noticed!

1. Start by identifying the editors and publishers with whom you want to work. Make a list of the top five publishers, perhaps even the top ten, and do some googling. Find out who their current editors and publishers are, get their names and keep track of the books they've acquired. You need to know these names and remember them if you're going to publish with one of the editors on the list.

2. Before you try to contact someone from your dream list of publishers, start up a free blog and get you name out there. Create a place (blog or web site) where a book editor can find out about you and your writing, and whenever you write an article online or elsewhere, link it to your blog or web site—and make yourself readily accessible online. There are stories out there of authors, particularly those writing fiction, who were discovered by their editors simply by posting regularly on their blogs and developing an audience of readers. So blog it up and then polish up your social networking skills on Facebook, Linkedin, and elsewhere, and if you can muster up a little transparency, Twitter your heart out.

3. Once you've got your novel, self-help manuscript, or business book (or whatever) that you'd like to sell, KEEP WRITING. But make sure you write strategically. In other words, write articles and get them published in magazines, newspapers, or other outlets that are read by your intended audience—those people in that particular industry. There are only a handful of good science fiction and fantasy magazines, journals, and online zines. Similarly, there are a handful of key business magazines, journals and online outlets for business writers. When you get an article placed, often you are given a small biography space at the bottom of your piece— mention that you happen to be writing a book, then link to your web site or blog and include your e-mail address whenever possible.

4. Most editors travel and haunt conferences, conventions, seminars, and events where writers and authors tend to gather in whatever category they are seeking to publish. Some editors present or hear pitches at writer's conferences or writing-focused gatherings. Find out if any of the editors on your list are making any appearances in your area, and then go sit down and pitch them, or try to get noticed. How? Don't be annoying. Just be yourself, be professional, and share your idea.

5. Present something at a conference, convention, or event yourself! These events are often organized by fans of the genre, so find a topic you can present on, and go for it. Sometimes I'll sit in the back of events like this and listen to dozens of presentations from authors, leaders, and experts in all sorts of niche areas, and then I'll introduce myself when I see someone who might have a concept, a striking speaking style, or an idea that I'd like to publish.

6. Get noticed locally, or by the media. If you are doing something unique and interesting enough to get some kind of recognition by your local media (TV, radio, newspapers, Internet etc) make a mention of your book project if possible. If you need to garner some attention, send out a press release to all your regional media and see if you can nab an interview.

I once read a Rolling Stone article about a series of very interesting people who happened to be blogging on topics that were relevant to the types of books I wanted to publish. I contacted several of them and wound up with several interesting meetings in New York all of which resulted in a single book proposal that I took to my publishing team for consideration. We didn't sign it, but I was interested enough to set up the meeting in the first place! And this is surprisingly common. At another time, after setting up a meeting with a leader who I first noticed in a magazine article, I signed him to a book deal and the first book did so well that I quickly signed him up for two more! Get noticed, for anything, and mention your book when you get a chance.

7. Last one. Hands down the best way to get the attention of your editor of choice is to get a recommendation from someone respected in the genre, field, or category—or from someone known by the editor him- or herself. The right endorsement or recommendation will get your manuscript or proposal requested faster than anything else. In fact, just last week I requested a proposal from someone I did not know who mentioned that one of our authors told him to call me. That manuscript hit my desk a few hours later.

If none of these methods seem like they will work for you, you can always go to the publishers who WILL read unsolicited proposals and manuscripts and do it the old fashioned way. Throw you manuscript atop ye ol' slush pile and pray!

Whatever happens with your project, I wish you the best of luck!

Photo by

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Plot Device: Short Film

I stumbled across this whimsical short film called PLOT DEVICE on a fantastic blog here thanks to Agent Kristin, and it reminded me of some of the more radical and creative short films that I've seen in recent years, such as George Lucas in Love and the three-minute, near-airplane-disaster movie, 405.

If you haven't seen those two fun little films, check them out.

Anyway, this is a fantastic little piece of fun and I think you'll like it as much as I did. Have a wonderful Saturday morning! : )

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Marketing Thursdays: Partner with Your Local Bookstore

For those of you who have a favorite bookstore in your area, this idea is for you. Here's a great local-bookstore-supporting marketing approach that I genuinely love—and I think its adaptable to authors of any stripe.

As he readied for the launch of his new graphic novel Sidekicks, author Dan Santat created what he's calling a pre-order experiment. He told fans via blog post that if they pre-ordered his new book through his site, he would buy all the preordered books through his local bookstore, Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop, in La Verne California. The author then promised to sign each copy and provide each customer with some exclusive content from the book, including one-of-a-kind artwork. And Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop would pocket the profits.

Lots of great things here: First, you support your mom and pop bookshop. Second, you garner some customer loyalty and interest because of the method. Third, you provide some unique extras to build lifelong fans and readers of your work.

Clearly, this unique approach is simpler for graphic novelists, who can giveaway some extra artwork more easily than other authors, however, I think this kind of fan-focused, and local bookstore angle could earn great results for any author with the right amount of creative thinking.

*Above: Author Dan Santat.

Check out the story at Publisher's Weekly for details. Or go straight to Dan Santat's web site right now for details, videos, behind the scenes material, and the opportunity to buy his new book.

By the way (and not that you care) but my favorite local bookstore in California, where I lived for most of my life is Bart's Books in Ojai, CA, the self-described World's Greatest Outdoor Bookstore. And yes, much of the book store is actually outside. Crazy, but totally awesome for any book fiend. Bart's also has a number of small rooms displaying rare first editions and signed books for the book collector. My favorite local bookstore here in Colorado is, of course, The Tattered Cover in downtown Denver. I go there far too often even though its a bit of a drive.

What's your favorite local bookstore?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Writing, Publishing, Storytelling: Links of the Day

Enjoy these Writing, Publishing, and Storytelling (WPS) links for the day.

First, many of you probably saw these new images last week, but I had to post them. I am big fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and these early shots are too cool not to share. The image below is of Dori, Nori, and Ori, three dwarves from the Peter Jackson helmed two-part Hobbit movie (part one of which will release in 2012):

If you want to see more Hobbit news, check out the Hobbit movie web site, where there are more images of some of the other characters, including Bilbo, Gandalf, and a couple behind the scenes videos as well.

In other book news, last week USA Today launched a book dedicated site where you can find book reviews, interviews, bestseller's lists and more in a multitude of genres and categories. The site also allows readers to preview book and buy them through links to online retailers. Great news, considering that print reviews are dwindling.

There's an interesting excerpt from an interview with Lee Goldberg over at GalleyCat where he advises against making a book trailer to advertise your book, generally because the quality is often so bad. I agree that if your book trailer is BAD, you might as well have saved your money (author or publisher). However, should we write off all book trailers, just like that? Can this marketing idea help a book?

Finally, there's a fantastic list called "The Laws of Future Publishing" over at Thad McIlroy's blog The Future of Publishing that is worth checking out for any author, publisher, book editor, or otherwise interested party. This list may be old news to some of you, but it's so-called laws are great fodder for conversation as the digital publishing transition continues.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Printer That Can Print Anything

This fantastic little video has been going around the web for the past couple weeks. It's a totally fascinating technology with massive implications for all sorts of industries - including publishing? I have no idea really there.

You watch this and you want to know, like really, how the heck does it actually work? This looks like something straight out of Star Trek.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Mystery: The Sounds of a Star

In today's post on The Mystery, I'm writing about the universe again, and this time because I simply couldn't resist talking about this little fun fact. Did you know that stars, such as Pulsars (or dying stars), make a kind of music?

Maybe I missed this course in college, but it was news to me. As I continue to work on this universe book project having to do with all these mind-bending and utterly fascinating parts of the universe, I came across this strange fact. And even better, I came across the soundtrack to go with it. Note: I will post more details about the book later when it hits shelves.

I also saw this highlighted on a recent episode of that wacky new science show Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, the other night. That show blows my mind, but it reminded me of this link below.

Click on the link and after you listen to some of these audio files, scroll down and check out the two files at the bottom of the linked page. There's actually some truly fascinating harmony in these "songs" from the Pulsars in 47 Tucanae.

Listen to the stars at this web site.

Alright, so if you've listened to them now, you know that the majority of these stars almost sound more like they are clicking or drumming, rather than singing, but still. Stars make sounds. How entirely radical is that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Publishing Storytelling: Links of the Day

Good morning, here are the WPS (Writing, Publishing, Storytelling) Links for today.

This first link here is probably old news to all of you by now, but man Google+ has launched with a bang. Is this really publishing news? I think everything Google does has implications for the future our industry and many others, so decide for yourself.

Anyway, I am seeing Google's answer to Facebook all over the web right now even though it's purportedly only usable at the moment by invitation. I got on pretty quickly, and it's another interesting social media site. Not as visually appealing as Facebook so far, but all the tech heads seem to love it. PC World has an interesting article about it talking about what Google+ needs in order to win the social media game. Here's a link to Google's introduction of the new service complete with videos and explanations. And here's the Google+ homepage for those who haven't found it yet.

In other Google news, the story is out that the tech company is launching a new e-reader device called Story HD, according to this Publishers Weekly article. Cool name but can it compete with the growing market for these e-readers?

Here is a quick and easy post on how to self-publish your book. If you need eight down and dirty steps on how to make this happen, check out this helpful article.

Well, this didn't take long. Casey Anthony, the biggest legal storm since OJ, has already spun off a book—but it isn't her own, not yet—though I'm sure that's coming. Fox News Contributor Keith Ablow is writing a book about the trial if you're interested. Seriously though, I'm over it.

Now take a minute and watch an entire bookstore fill up with books! : )

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How the New Art Will Affect Publishing

The New Art and Publishing. My brother recently introduced me several art projects created through some insanely complicated data-mining technology and also crowd-sourcing.

Crowd-sourcing is essentially the idea of outsourcing a body of work to a crowd of people. I've seen it play out uniquely in business, on creative projects, and even in a marketing application, but I've never seen anything related to crowd-sourcing as cool as The Johnny Cash Project.

The Johnny Cash Project

After seeing this crowd-sourced music video for a song on one of Johnny Cash's posthumous albums, it has me wondering about how this might apply to publishing as well.

Watch the music video, and then check out the behind the scenes video about how it was put together with hundreds of artists/fans each drawing and inking over old archival footage of the man in black, with each artist/fan completing exactly one second of the video.

The result is pretty phenomenal. Here is The Johnny Cash Project behind the scenes video.

The Wilderness Downtown

The same people who created The Johnny Cash Project also displayed more of the same broad technological creativity in a recent music video project for the band The Arcade Fire. This is probably my band of choice at the moment as I cannot get The Suburbs out of my head, so I may be a bit biased here.

However, go to The Wilderness Downtown site and experience this music video for yourself. To begin, you type in your home address, or the address of the home you grew up in.

This video then uses Google Earth's image database to customize a music video for you specifically. Each person who watches the music video gets to view a totally unique experience, which just strikes me as an idea that has legs in other mediums.

And again, because I work in publishing in various capacities, my mind immediately goes to the questions, how could this type of creativity play itself out for books, magazines, or other areas of the publishing and/or journalism worlds?

So I ask you, what do you think? What would a crowd-sourced book look like? With all the benefits of technology, how can publishers customize their products in this way?