Thursday, August 21, 2008

Write Big

When we think about marketing, we tend to get so focused on the idea of marketing our book to the reading public, that we forget that there is a marketing task that comes well before that, and it is even more important in the great scheme of things: marketing oneself to the publisher.

Now, that sounds kind of scary, and if you were applying for a sales job or something in upper management, it would be scary. Luckily, as authors, our books will make up about 85% of our marketing efforts. Which is why writing the very best book you can is one of our top marketing focuses here at SVP.

This very concept was re-enforced for me at RWA, where I had the opportunity to hear Shauna Summers, a Senior Editor at Bantam, speak. She was adamant that writers should absolutely allow themselves to write outside the box—but only if that’s where the story took them. She did not recommend it just for the sake of being “out there.”

She said you gain nothing by being small. She sees lots of manuscripts that are good--not--great. She wants great.

She mentioned the very real danger of having one’s manuscript critiqued and workshopped to death, so that every last spark of freshness and originality is lost. You can’t please every reader, not even in your critique group, and if you try, you risk eradicating that very thing that makes your special and will allow it to stand out (market itself) to the editor.

So you got that, Vi’s? Go forth and create—BIG—outside the box.

And lastly, I have a huge Bonus Marketing Tip hot from the conference.

One of the Very Big Name Editors said that, in her opinion, pitching appointments were an absolute waste of time, especially when you considered how stressful they were for everyone concerned. She had never bought anything from a pitch appointment and tried to steer clear of them as she could tell more from a good query than a pitch. What a relief! So while, yes, it's a great excerise to be able to distill your book into a pithy short blurb, you don't actually have to verbally pitch it in order to succeed in publishing.

::introverts everywhere heave a great big sigh of relief::


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

It's always comforting to know that the best thing we can ever do for our writing careers is to write a great book.

As for pitches--interestingly, I didn't find them so bad, even as a shy introvert. They were stressful, but also very short, and they're one-on-one (easier than dealing with crowds). Not that I'm sorry I now have an agent and no longer have to do them!

But I think it never hurts to write a pitch just for practice. It helps you to answer the question that will ultimately come from booksellers, librarians, and potential readers: "So, what's your book about?"

Mary Hershey said...

Amen to the pitch session idea, Robin, and thanks for sharing this! And,yes, such a good idea to be able to distill your work into a short summary, but, pitching sessions, in my opinion, were invented by extraverts.

They get charged by these type of scenarios. Us? Not so much!

Happy Friday, everyone! Super post, Robin--


Anonymous said...

I'm trying, TRYING, to write big on my latest revision. Here's hoping!

There's no way to write this without sounding like I received a garbage-truck load of rejections, but, oh, well--for my two cents. I got LOTS of nice, complimentary, personal rejections in response to my unsolicited queries. The one agent I actually pitched to, who was very pleasant and nice, sent me a standard form from the overall agency. So...I don't know that it matters. I think a personal pitch CAN help you get actually chapters in front of an agent, maybe, but it's no guarantee of anything beyond that.

I think. :)

Mary Hershey said...

Dear Becky,

Every rejection letter you get moves you one letter CLOSER to their thrilling acceptance letter. :-) And, how marvelous that you are now getting the "nice, complimentary, personal rejections."

And you are right-- just no guarantees. What a biz, huh?


Patty Palmer said...

Never been to a pitch session but always felt that showing rather than telling was a better approach.
Thanks for another great post!