Tip #4: Be Polite—9 Out of 10 Agents and Publishers Prefer It!
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of your book. You think to yourself, “I need to get this published now! Quick! This book is groundbreaking! There’s no time for protocol or politesse!”
Or is there?
Take a deep breath and think about who you’re dealing with. Whether it’s an agent, a publisher, or a distributor you’re inquiring to them for help and you need them on your side. Being demanding, inflexible, or just flat out rude probably won’t get you very far. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about how to interact with an agent, publisher, or distributor.
1. There are authors who insist that their book will be the big bestseller or the next great American novel. Now that’s not to say yours isn’t, but realize that agents, editors, and submission departments hear the same thing all day long, and insisting on the genius of your book probably won’t win you much notice or favor.
2. Follow-up is important, and persistence is an admirable quality, but pestering probably won’t yield the desired outcome for your book. Remember that many companies and agents have a process in place to review incoming submissions and that they will often notify you of their decision. In the case that there is no notification system in place, be as kind and understanding as possible and try and have a reasonable expectation for wait time.
3. Be polite. Maybe this seems obvious, but I can tell you that a lack of consideration and manners in general is something I experience in our submissions department from time to time. Sometimes it takes that little extra push to get that “accepted” status, and having people on the inside rooting for you can go a long way. Honey catches more flies than vinegar, right?
Think about it from their (our) perspective: would you want to enter into a long-term business relationship with someone who makes your life difficult? I bet not. I would like to acknowledge though, it is a two-way street—agents, publishers, and distributors owe the same respect to authors, and often don’t keep the lines of communication open, as they should.
If you don’t care what your publisher thinks about you, consider your readers—wouldn’t we all rather read books written by nice people?
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BookTour.com, the world's largest, 100% free directory of author events, recently announced that they have partnered with Amazon.com. Authors who list their tour dates on BookTour.com will now see those dates automatically appear on their corresponding Amazon Author Page. Check out author Daniel Silva’s Amazon page to see this in action. It's a great way to get even more exposure for your upcoming bookstore events. If you haven’t already signed up for a free BookTour.com account, now is the time! Click here to sign up.
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One of our favorite moments of last May’s BookExpo coverage was this one-liner from Bob Miller of HarperStudio: during a discussion on “Stupid Things Publishers & Booksellers Do,” he said, “No more Tuesdays with Marley?” He was, of course, referring to the hastily (and poorly) produced copycats that tend to follow breakout successes in the book world. (Here’s looking at you, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.)
The lesson is to not let market trends alone dictate the book you decide to write and publish. Most of the time, book buyers will see right through a blatant attempt to piggyback onto a successful book that was probably a success because it was a well-written and smartly packaged book—not because it contained special subject matter (boy wizards, emo vampires, etc.) that readers craved in and of itself.
Anyway, if you thought Tuesdays with Marley was clever, you’ll love the fake-bestseller contest put on by Steve Hely, author of How I Became a Famous Novelist (Grove Press). His book includes a mock NYT bestseller list [PDF alert], and he invited others to come up with their own bogus book titles. A personal favorite, from @ami_with_an_i: "Punk Girls Don't Get Fat: The Secrets of Staying Skinny on Just Two Packs of Camel Wides and a Flask of Cheap Whiskey a Day." See them all on Twitter and on Facebook. (PS: This is also near-brilliant social media marketing, obviously.)
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Some of you might remember that for an April Fool's gag, we gave seven "hot tips" for author events.
Over at HarperStudio's blog The 26th Story, they're giving you the good stuff: a great blog post with five important (real) things to remember for authors who are having book signings at local stores.
Those tips include:
- We are investing in you. Invest in us!
- Don't spread yourself too thin.
- Please don't second-guess the bookstore.
- Stay calm; do not panic!
- Enjoy your big day!
Check out the blog post, "An Author Walks Into a Bookstore (for a signing)" to get the complete information.
Other links to check out on the how-tos, goods, bads, uglies, and mathematics of book signings and author events:
- E-How's How to Do a Bookstore Signing
- Chip MacGregor's Booksignings and Websites
- Publishing Explained's book signing: organizing for success
- The Swivet's Pimpin' Your Book: The Economics of the Average Bookstore Event
- The Book Deal's Attention shoppers: Lessons learned from a book signing disaster (contributed by author Lisa Haneberg)
If you have any stories to share about author events (both as an author and as an antendee), let us know!
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The video just so happens to feature author Neil Gaiman, which you big bad book blog readers may recognize as a favorite of mine, and an extraordinaire at modern book promotional techniques.
Authors and publicists, share with us some of your favorite techniques for combining digital tools and marketing efforts for your books!