With so many gloom-and-doom projections about the traditional publishing industry, it was fun and encouraging to hear a group of authors and industry insiders talk about publishing in an upbeat, optimistic way. While there wasn’t any flash of great insight, there was some solid advice given that we can all benefit from. Here’s a roundup of tips:
What editors want: An editor from a Big 6 publisher said that she looks for stories that are “un-putdownable” and characters that are so compelling she has to put everything else aside so she can see what happens to them. She also has a strong sense about what manuscripts she can fix and shape into books.
Querying agents: Yes! It is possible to get an agent the old-fashioned way: through a query letter. Just make it fantastic! Send out 10 letters for every rejection you get and set up a really good database so you can track your queries. Agentquery.com is an excellent resource. You can also find agents by going to a bookstore and checking intros and acknowledgments — agents are often cited by grateful authors.
Keep writing: As one author put it: the most irrefutable advice you’ll ever get is this: the more letters you send out, the more likely you are to get an agent. The more writing you do, the more likely you are to get published.
Be generous: One new author told a wonderful story of another author who was incredibly generous in the help she gave. The well-established author went out of her way to use her extensive social media contacts to give the newbie author a boost. The message: kindness counts! It’s not easy out there in publishing land and we authors and aspiring authors really need to give each other a hand. Write on!