This morning while I was wondering around on Facebook, I came across a post from a fellow writer, who was beating himself up for mistakes that he had made with his first publication and this goes beyond spelling errors. The mistakes that he mentioned were items such as the subject matter of the book, when he was querying it out to agents and publishers the letter and everything that went into it sucked. He admitted that he when he self-published it he picked the wrong categories and his synopsis wasn’t right. He also admitted that he wrote on a subject matter that a lot of people don’t know about or don’t have an interest in.
Alright, so if you came across this post then you would think that he is being too hard on himself and the phrase “poor baby” might come to mind as well. But let’s look at it as we have all been there. We have beaten ourselves up for the mistakes that we have made and should know better. Here is the thing, I know that I’ve beaten myself up for mistakes that I have made in my writing. Mistakes that I know that I should have corrected but didn’t because I didn’t catch them.
Granted, let’s also face something that most of us writers the first time, we go into publishing we don’t know all the nuts and bolts that go into it. But that is part of learning and growing when we do find those nuts and bolts and see how they all fit together. There are a lot of things that this writer didn’t do with his first manuscript like get someone to edit for him before he just published. He didn’t market the manuscript so that others that might be interested in the subject could find it and take an interest to read it.
But here are somethings that I picked up from last week’s conference on traditional publishers, that I want to share with all of you and this goes back to our writer friend and his manuscript when it wasn’t picked up by these publishers. Well, first start with the writer before taking in the manuscript. First of all having followers on social media is everything. If you don’t have a following then you are not very likely to be picked up my a traditional publisher. The why is easy and that is because you cannot connect with an audience then they will have a hard time finding one for you. The second thing, is that if you are not a celebrity then a traditional publisher won’t pick you up either. This where the publishers are making their money. It’s not from writers like you and me, it’s from the celebrities. The why is also easy because they already have a following from the products that they sponsor, the movies and television shows that they are in and the huge following that they have on social media and the media events that they attend.
This is one of the biggest reasons why every year traditional publishers, publish and market so many books that are written by celebrities. Now granted the number one best-selling book right now is co-written by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. While most look at the cover and say good for them. There are others, that say Bill Clinton is using the fame that comes with James Patterson for this book. Now granted, Bill Clinton could have written the book by himself and it would have done fine. But it wouldn’t be fiction and that was what Bill Clinton wanted to put out there. Remember most books written by celebrities are under the genre of memoir or creative non-fiction. So then in order for it to succeed then the publisher needed to pull someone in like James Patterson to make a success. Well, it worked for it is number one on Amazon and the New York Times best selling list for fiction.
Here is the other piece about traditional publishing, if the subject that you are writing does not have a huge interest then it will not be likely to be picked up either. The traditional publishers are geared towards getting big numbers and getting readers to flock towards those books that are new. Granted, just as we have a hard time gaining those readers to take an interest in us as first time authors, they do too. The why is not hard to see for it all comes from readers and other consumers are loyal to things that they previously know and that includes authors that they have read before.
But here is another tidbit that I gained, and that is that if you are seeking the attention of that traditional publisher, then you also need to keep up with those trends. If you are writing a story and your main character is male then you are going to have a hard time to get picked up, because thanks to the success of The Hunger Games, female main characters are in and they are making money for the publishers. But the other piece of this is also if you get rejected for the story having a male main character, the tide will change sooner or later and then your story might get picked up.
So even if you get rejected by an agent for a publisher, just keep in mind that your story might not be right for the publisher at this time, or what you have in mind is not right for the agent that you are querying. This were doing your homework is key if you want to get picked up by an agent or even by a traditional publisher. Furthermore, traditional publishers have not grown for quite sometime in terms of what they are doing, where as self-publishing has grown over 200% in the last five years alone, and in an industry that should be growing like everything else then the traditional publishers need to re-think and see about getting on the same page or doing better than the self-publishers. But that is there current mistake such as using the gatekeepers to keep some of us out of the industry.
But the other thing to think of is that right now, it’s back to school time and for the most part book buyers are buying the staples like Catcher in the Rye, The Giver, and other classics that are put in the classrooms. Therefore, no new books will be publishing until after October or November just in time for Christmas. Then it will fall again until about April or May and keep going until the middle part of July. Yes, they have market trends like every other industry and that is something that we have to keep track of also whether we are self-publishing or traditional publishing.
Getting back to our writer friend, I gave him a simple piece of advice and that is to learn from the mistakes that were done with his first piece and to try harder with his second piece. Further, he can fix the problems that he had with the first and he can republish it as a new edition when he is ready. But he also needs to market what he is putting out there so that he can find the readers that are interested in his work.
I hope that you find this helpful with what you are looking for when it comes to your writing and your decisions about what to do with your projects. Until next time, I hope that you have a wonderful writing day!