Where Do You Find the Connections To Get Published?
Let’s recap the action so far: You need 3 things to get your novel published:
Today we’ll look at #3 on the list — Connections.
The problem is that you can have marvelous Content and incredible Craft, but if you don’t have any Connections — an editor who wants to buy your novel — then your book is going to languish in anguish.
Connections in Traditional Publishing
If you want to get traditionally published, then the Connection you need is an acquisition editor. An acquisition editor’s job is to find novels to publish, novels that will earn the publisher money. The acquisition editor works for the publishing house, but he or she is your champion at the publisher. Acquisition editors are not your friend, exactly. They are your business partner.
These days, it’s very difficult to sell your novel to an acquisition editor at a large or medium-sized publisher on your own. Editors are just too swamped to look at every piece of junk that somebody sends them. Most publishing houses, in fact, will SEND YOUR NOVEL BACK UNOPENED if they don’t know who you are. (This is not the case with small publishers.)
That means, in practice, that you probably need an agent. An agent’s job is to have tons of Connections with editors. It’s all too tempting for the beginning writer to think that having an agent will solve all their problems. “If only I had a first-class agent, I could sell this great idea and then I’d have time to write my novel.”
Yeah, right. You know what? It takes more than a great agent. The best agent in the world can’t help if your idea is lame or your writing is crappy. That’s just a fact. If you don’t believe me, ask any agent or any editor or any published novelist. They’ll all tell you the same thing.
That puts you in a tough spot. Because the great agents of the world won’t give you the time of day if your Content sucks OR if your Craft is second-rate. Why should they waste time trying to sell a manuscript that can’t be sold? Agents are in business to make money, not to bang their head against the wall.
Oh, sure, you might find an incompetent agent who’ll take your money for “evaluating your manuscript.” Run like fire from such thieves. They won’t help you.
So, is the situation hopeless? No, not at all. Let’s turn the logic around here. We’ve agreed that an agent won’t work with you if your Content and Craft are lousy. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that if your Content and Craft are excellent, the good agents will be wearing out their Nikes running to your door to get you to sign on with them.
Why? Because the combination of great Content AND great Craft is rare. And valuable. An agent can easily sell your novel if you have great Content and great Craft.
And that’s the key to getting Connections. Get the best possible Content. Learn the best possible Craft. It’s a simple idea.
Connections for Indie Authors
On the surface, things appear to be much simpler and easier for an indie author. If you decide to publish independently, then the only Connection you need is an internet connection so you can log on to Amazon and Apple iBooks and Kobo and Barnes & Noble. Then you just upload your book and you’re published.
But not so fast. You probably weren’t just hoping to see your book up for sale. You were probably also hoping that somebody would actually buy it and read it. Maybe you’d like your writing hobby to earn you some cash. Or maybe you just want people to read your book, cash or no cash. Either way, you somehow need to find readers to read your book.
You might think that the answer to this problem is “smart marketing.” Well, yes and no. Yes, you’ll need some marketing. But that’s not really enough. Good marketing will not help if your novel isn’t good. That’s just a fact. People might buy your book, but if it’s lousy, they’ll probably return it. And for sure they won’t finish it.
But the good news is that if your Content and Craft are excellent, then a little marketing goes a long way. Readers will read your work. They’ll talk about it to their friends. And then your book will take off.
That will only happen if your Content and Craft are both excellent. Remember, the combination of great Content and great Craft is rare. And valuable.
So that’s the key to marketing your book. Get the best possible Content. Learn the best possible Craft.
Great Content Plus Great Craft is Your Ticket
It’s a simple idea, and it can be made even simpler. The thing is that you probably ALREADY HAVE great Content. There’s a reason you’ve got a burning in your gut to write a novel. It’s because you have something to say, right? You’ve lived life. You’ve been in the thick of things. You’ve got some wisdom socked away in your soul. You’ve got great stuff you want to put in a story. In other words, you’ve got Content.
What that means is that probably the only thing you need RIGHT NOW is to develop your Craft. Then you can use your powerful Craft and your great Content. If you go the traditional publishing route, great Content and great Craft will help you find excellent Connections — a top-notch agent. And then the agent sells your book to the appropriate editor. If you go the indie way, great Content and great Craft will help your marketing bring you to the top of the heap — or as high as you deserve, anyway.
Now you have a target. Develop your Craft. I’ll remind you that most beginning writers aren’t anywhere close to that target. Most begining novelists spend weeks or months or YEARS trying to figure out what they ought to be shooting at.
You KNOW what you should be shooting at. You’ve got two legs up on everyone else. That doesn’t mean you’re there yet. Not by a long shot. But at least you know where “there” is. You’ve got a goal — great Craft.
We’ll stop for today. Are you champing at the bit to develop your Craft and then find you an agent and go slay the world? Good! You’ve got a goal. But a goal is not a plan. Your next step should be to make yourself a roadmap for how you’re going to get from here to there — from unpublished to published.
Watch for tomorrow’s lesson, when we’ll summarize things and then figure out your career strategy: Make Your Battle Plan To Get Published!
Randy Ingermanson, PhD