Monday, July 25, 2011
Guest Author Wendy S. Marcus
Getting Noticed – Without Donning a Red Feather Boa or Scenting Your Manuscript
By: Wendy S. Marcus
Thank you for hosting me on the 26th stop of my blog tour to promote my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH. Today I’ve decided to chat about getting noticed – without donning a red feather boa or scenting your manuscript.
There are tens of thousands of writers seeking publication. For those of you who choose to go the traditional route, how can you get an agent/editor to read your manuscript ahead of the hundreds of others on their waiting-to-be-read list?
First, and foremost, you need to write and complete a quality, full-length manuscript. Yes, I said full-length. With a beginning, a middle and an end. Why? So you know you can do it. And so the agent/editor knows you can do it. I once read on a blog how a writer ran into an editor at a conference and pitched an idea for a book. The editor loved it and requested the partial. The writer sent in the first three chapters. The editor bought it. The writer cashed her advance check. And couldn’t finish the story. She missed her deadline and had to return to money.
Okay, you have your completed manuscript. It’s been spellchecked, critiqued, and beta-read. It’s ready. You’re ready. Now what?
You could get a list of publishers/agents/editors and blanket the publishing countryside with your submissions. Maybe even use one of those submission services to broaden your reach while decreasing your effort. I wouldn’t recommend it.
First, I once attended a seminar where an agent talked about submission services. Their e-mails all arrived in her inbox looking the same. She could pick them out immediately. And she deleted every one without reading it.
Second, don’t waste your efforts tallying up all the submissions you’ve sent out. Quality is much more important that quantity. Take the time to do your research. Focus in on the agents/editors who are looking for submissions in the genre/subgenre your manuscript falls into. Maybe focus in on new agents/editors who are looking to build their author lists.
Personalize each submission cover letter. Add something from the agent/editor’s website. Find out what authors they work with. If there’s a particular author you love, whose work you think yours resembles, mention it. Have you met the agent/editor or seen them speak at a conference? Mention it. Do you follow their blog? Was there a specific post that resonated with you? Mention it.
Now. How to get the attention of an agent/editor the untraditional way.
1) Once you’ve identified your top 10-20 agents/editors, visit their websites daily to see what’s new. Subscribe to their blogs. Follow them on Twitter. Did you know some agents/editors run random pitch sessions on their blogs? It’s a way to bring your work to their attention without having to risk landing in the slush pile and a way to bring your name to their attention.
2) Find out what writing contests your agents/editors are judging and enter your work. And even if you don’t win, always send off a thank you note to your judges. I once read on a blog where a published author judged an entry in a contest and absolutely loved it. Since the entries were kept confidential she didn’t know who wrote it. She was shocked when the entry didn’t place. She’d hoped the entrant would send her a thank you note with her contact info. so she could forward the information on to her editor. The entrant never sent a thank you note. Opportunity lost.
3) Find out what conferences your agents/editors are attending throughout the year and see if any are close enough for you to attend. This is money well spent, folks! Sign up for an appointment to pitch if they’re taking pitches. Or look for the opportunity to chat with them. Do not be hard sell. (I think we’ve all heard the story of the wannabe author who followed an editor into the ladies room.) This is not the way to go. But chatting about how much you enjoyed their seminar, or how lovely their necklace is, or even how much you enjoyed the food at lunch will open up a dialogue between you. Here’s a link to a post by Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press, on how to start a conversation with an editor at a conference
http://nicemommy-evileditor.com/blog/2011/05/03/how-to-start-a-conversation-with-an-editor-at-a-conference/ Maybe as things are winding up, you can throw in, “Would it be okay if I sent you my manuscript about….?” Now you have an opening for your submission cover letter.
4) Visit publisher websites to see what they’re looking for. Many will put a call out for submissions for upcoming anthologies or lines where submissions may be lacking.
5) If you write romance, become a member of the eHarlequin and/or Mills and Boon communities. Both offer excellent resources and opportunities for new writers.
6) Remain open to possibilities other than what you first envisioned. Let me explain. When I wrote WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH, I had targeted Harlequin Superromance. But one day while perusing the Internet, (a favorite past time of mine) I stumbled upon an announcement for a pitch contest for Harlequin Medical Romance. Even though I was a nurse, I’d never considered writing for medical romance. I didn’t know much about the line, and wasn’t familiar with the Mills and Boon branch of Harlequin. But never one to pass up an opportunity, since my hero and heroine were doctor and nurse, I slaved over my two paragraph entry, was one of five winners, got assigned an editor, worked at revisions for six longs months, and finally sold in October 2010!
7) Think outside the box. Here’s a link to a post where NYT Bestselling Author, Carly Phillips discusses her big break: http://www.carlyphillips.com/diarypg1/ Carly identified an opportunity, got creative, and got herself catapulted to NYT bestseller!
I hope you found this information helpful and that you’ll take a few minutes to check out an excerpt from WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH here: http://wendysmarcus.com/books/
To learn more about me, or read an excerpt from my second book, ONCE A GOOD GIRL, please visit my website: http://WendySMarcus.com
Or visit me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Wendy-S-Marcus-Author-Page/184507031577429
Or Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/WendySMarcus
Or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4823224.Wendy_S_Marcus
And if you’d like to purchase WHEN ONE LIFE ISN’T ENOUGH, it’s available here:
Amazon U.S.: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=wendy+s+marcus&sprefix=wendy+s+marcus
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flirting-Society-Doctor-Enough-Medical/dp/0263885925/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308233911&sr=1-1
Mills and Boon Aus: http://www.millsandboon.com.au/product.asp?productid=4371&dest=%2Fcategory%2Easp%3Fbookcategoryid%3D27%26page%3D1
So what do you think? Did you find this information helpful? What else have you tried to catch an agents/editors attention? Did it work? Also, if you have any questions about medical romance I’m happy to answer them. One lucky commenter will win the 2in1 edition of my book which includes a complete novel by author Janice Lynn.
A contest...very cool. I enjoyed having you as my guest Wendy. Nancy