Everyone wants that call. The one call that after each rejection finally has the a big fat YES stamped all over it. You want that feeling of confetti jumping off the page and hitting you in the face like someone throwing a ticker tape parade right outside your door.
All of those things may not happen when you finally get your “yes” from a publisher or agent but it’s completely how it feels. How do you go from being bombarded with no’s and into the land of yes?
See what your competition is doing.
Check into books that are similar to the one you want to write- and read them. Seriously, go down to Barnes and Noble and get them. See what they do well. See what they don’t do well. (Make a list. This will come in handy when writing your proposal) What does the author do to promote the book? Or are they a hermit and have never been seen or heard from again? These are all the things that publishers already know about the books on the market (and will look up again when they are looking at your proposal). They know how well they sell, who they are marketing them to, and when they get promoted. I have said this before and I’ll say it again, your book is like a product. There is competition out there and the book business is cut throat. If you want to land on a desk and not in a dumpster you’ll need to start thinking like your book is something that can be bought and sold- so make it worth reading and make it worth BUYING.
What’s your hustle plan?
When I hear about an author not wanting to do anything to promote their book or telling me how they could never read it in front of a crowd, I have a small heart attack! This is the fastest way to kill your book. You might as well put the manuscript in a shoebox and bury it the yard.
First plan of attack is to write a list. What open mic nights do you know of where you could read a few pages of your manuscript? Where can you speak that will allow you to test out those few pages and see how different audiences react to them? For instance, if you’re writing a book about relationships why not contact a divorce group or a singles mingle.By testing out these pieces of your book you’ll already know what works and be building a fan base for it. When publishers and agents find out you’re willing to get out there with your book- and that people like it- it’s now more valuable and less of a risk for them to take on.
All of these things you’ll be doing you’ll want to state in your proposal. State that you’ve read parts of your book (even list which parts if you’re including them in your sample chapters) to these types of groups and their reactions. Did they love it and why? Every time you put that into your proposal the publisher will see that as this author is out there building a platform and can sell it once we put that book in their hands.
What’s so awesome about you?
Seriously, why should you be the one writing this book? And why does it need to be published now? Agents and publishers are asking that from the moment they open your proposal. You have to give them every reason to say yes and not a hard fast no. You also need to make yourself interesting. If you can’t sell yourself to them then you’re not going to sell yourself to anyone else who wants to spend money to buy your book.
Are your sample chapters tight?
The proposal is great. You have a plan to market and may have booked some places to speak at and read selections from your book. If your chapters are a hot mess you’ll never get anywhere. Make sure the sample chapters you’ve selected go with the tone of you proposal. You want the chapters to me the last piece of a puzzle not something that looks like you pulled out of a water logged canoe.
Last but not least, make sure you don’t give up. Regardless as to how amazing your proposals are it’s going to take time to get them out there and in front of the right person. There is something to be said about the power of persistence.