First Time Authors are all "Potential"

What's going on in your writing world? Connect with the writing community here and talk about whatever's on your mind.
abqwriter
Vice Commander in Chief
 
Posts: 7123
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 7:49 am

First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby abqwriter » Sun Feb 19, 2006 4:38 am


abqwriter
Vice Commander in Chief
 
Posts: 7123
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 7:49 am

First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby abqwriter » Sun Feb 19, 2006 4:38 am

One of the most significant nuggets I gained during yesterday's conference is that first time authors have an appeal with agents and editors alike, because they are all "potential". 

Once an author has published a book, there is a track record that will follow them with every query after that.  That can be good or bad.  Book sales are pretty easy to follow now due to the internet, so agents and editors can quickly discover how many copies of a book were sold.  If that number is mediocre, and the manuscript of the new author is just as good or better than a mediocre-sales published author, we were told that many agents and editors see the unpublished author as a better bet.  They don't have to convince booksellers to take on the book despite a mediocre track record with the last book.

After hearing this information (which is not anything I read in the "how to" books I've read), I decided to mention my concept for a new book during the pitch of my completed novel.  If I only have one chance at being a first-time author, I want to present my best chance at high sales - even if it is a book I have yet to write.

Just thought I'd share this encouraging information with those of you that are in the same boat as a first-time author.


brewbob
Private E-1
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:34 am

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby brewbob » Sun Feb 19, 2006 4:49 am

That's really interesting and encouraging, Lisa. You mentioned a concept during a pitch for your novel, but what was the reaction? Were any agents or editors interested in your new concept?

Bob

abqwriter
Vice Commander in Chief
 
Posts: 7123
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 7:49 am

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby abqwriter » Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:07 am

Yes, the agent with whom I interviewed was a lot more excited by the concept than the original pitch.  She asked for me to email her a concept proposal.  I don't know if a first-time author can actually snag an agent off a concept pitch, but I'm sure willing to find out whether I can! 

Aspiring
 

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby Aspiring » Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:22 am

How wonderful for your to share this nugget with us! I counted the other day and I'm up to 32 rejections with 8 outstanding queries, but as "potential" I'm getting back on the horse and submitting more. Did you learn anything more about queries? I followed a formula that I thought was very helpful and straightforward, but feel my query is a bit long. I keep looking at it trying to determine where to cut, but I think everything is relevant.

abqwriter
Vice Commander in Chief
 
Posts: 7123
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 7:49 am

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby abqwriter » Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:41 am

Both agents said that they take far more seriously snail-mail queries than email queries.  Both also said they read every query themselves, although they often give their assistant the pile of queries that did not make the cut.  The assistant prints out the rejections, and the agent signs them.  If a query intrigues them but needs work or is in some other way not acceptable, the agents then send them a personally written rejection or referral letter. 

The one agent who answered the question about how many queries she gets in a week said that she and her assistant go through about 50 - 60 queries each week and then another 5 - 10 emails a day.

She also advised to NEVER use comments made by other agents in rejections unless the comment was to contact her personally.  What this says is that you've been floating this manuscript for a while with no luck.  While all agents expect you to submit simultaneous queries, no agent wants to know they weren't part of your first-choice queries.


Jamesaritchie
Commander in Chief
 
Posts: 8276
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:11 pm

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby Jamesaritchie » Tue Feb 21, 2006 7:56 am

First, best laid plans and all that. My plans for seclusion are apparently over. I went from a bad flywheel to a blown head gasket in the truck and a burnt out clutch in the car. So it looks like I'm going to have to finish my work at home. What is it with the timing of warranties expiring and things breaking, anyway?

At any rate, this is something I've talked about here and there, and have heard other pro writers talk about. There is something worse than not being published, and that something is having a book published that doesn't sell well. Book sales aren't just easy to follow, that are services that all publishers of any size, most big agents, all bookstores, and all distributors subscribe to that list the exact number of book sales by all writers sold through legitimate sources.

The problem really isn't that the publisher sees the unpublished writer as a better bet, it's that bookstores see the unpublished writer as a better bet, and bookstores have more power in this area than publishers, agents, or anyone else.

This sounds like a great thing for unpublished writers, and it is for a very few, but for most it's a deadly trap. You see, what publishers and chain bookstores are after isn't good writers who can earn a steady profit, they're after the next Stephen King, J, K, Rowling, etc. And the way they go about finding this new bestselling writer is to publish a hundred new writer, throw them all at the wall, and keep the couple who stick. The rest are in serious trouble.

The conglomerate publishers are publishing far too many novels right now. There's only so much room in bookstores, only so many novels distributors can handle, only so many novels the reading public can buy, and this number has been greatly surpassed. A paperback novel, for example, is given only three weeks in bookstores to start selling well. Then room has to be made for the next huge shipment of books from the publishers.

That's the problem. So many books are being published that any book that doesn't sell well isn't given a chance to pick up readers. It's yanked from the racks because another thousand books are sitting in the back room awaiting their chance.

This can't go on forever, but while it is happening, an awful lot of new writers are being thrown to the wolves. It will keep happening until publishers across the board cut the number of novels being published by at least 20%.

Right now, as hard as having your first novel published is, the real challenge is to stay published. And it isn't easy. Because of the way things are being done right now, four out of five first novels lose money for the publisher, and only three or four out of a hundred stick to the wall in a way that puts the writer out of danger.

So while getting that first novel published is a wonderful thing, it's just the starting point. The real challenge comes after you're published. It's making that novel sell well enough to stick when so many others are falling to the floor.

Jamesaritchie
Commander in Chief
 
Posts: 8276
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 12:11 pm

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby Jamesaritchie » Tue Feb 21, 2006 7:58 am

Oh, I also agree about snail mail. E-mail is terribly convenient, and because of this that's where most of the junk shows up. Snail mail is still the way to go whenever possible. It takes more effort, more commitment, etc., and most agents and editors receive far better queries and submissions via snail mail than e-mail.

Aspiring
 

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby Aspiring » Tue Feb 21, 2006 10:12 am

Thanks for the info. I've been relying more on email queries but think I'll start going the snail mail route. Sounds like I'll be taken a bit more seriously.

Sheri
 

RE: First Time Authors are all "Potential"

Postby Sheri » Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:06 pm

Questions...if you don't mind.

Since you are such a power-house of info, I thought I might pick your brain on this a bit more.

You put the fear in...no sugar-coating.

So...what are some of the smart ways that a first-time-author can help to promote the sales of their book?

I'm sure it's quite the challenge, but it can be done with hard work, right?

Share the knowlege, James!

Sheri

Next

Return to Writers' Block Party

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 13 guests