Last Saturday, I attended a writer’s symposium on publishing. The lecturer? Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest fame. Here are a few of things I took away from his lectures, things I haven’t done/been doing/even thought of:
- Build an email list (I used to have one for an e-newsletter, but didn’t realize that places like MailChimp publish your physical address at the end of each newsletter. Yeah, will be getting a P.O. box.)
- Set goals/expectations for your books (re-evaluate as necessary for each book you plan on publishing. Be specific and realistic about what you want.)
- Query 20% max. of agents on your query list at a time (if your query letter stinks, you don’t want to send it out to 100% at once! They all will say no. Agents ALWAYS read the query letter. Give yourself the opportunity to rewrite.)
- Be specific. Avoid generalities about your plot and characters when pitching your book. (This should be obvious, but I’m guilty.)
- If you do the comp. title thing, don’t compare your book to: anything overseas (no Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), any A-list books (as in Harry Potter; aim for the middle), anything older than ten years.
Mr. Sambuchino is an engaging speaker, filling his talk with real-life examples. Also, after getting to have lunch with him and my friends, he showed himself to be personable and nice. That’s important: People will be more likely to forge connections/buy your books if you’re nice. A meanie? That’s an instant turn-off.
Main takeaway: Don’t be above your audience. Remember: No matter how high you climb, they are still your customers, your patrons. And you are only ever one wrong tweet or viral Facebook post from being shunned.
Give the help you wanted to receive when you were where they are. You might just be helping the next great 21st-century author 😉
Keep your pen on the page,