Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is it they want?

What do publishers and agents want most?

Anyone? Anyone?

Let me enlighten you: They want professionals.

They want a mystery writer who will bust his ass selling books.

They want a YA author who can rip out a full trilological book series with each book stronger than the last.

They want a romance or a literary woman who knows her target audience and is willing to sit down and bang out two novels a year, steadfast, from A to Z, starting with A is for Alibi.

Let us face reality, my pre-published friends and neighbors: Agents are business people. Publishers are businesses. Editors don't work for free.

So when you ask, "What does an editor/agent/publisher want from poor little unpublished me?"

The answer is simple, and they respond, "We want you to make us some money, you dumb knucker!"

Don't forget that.

Be professional. Show them a strong work ethic. Demonstrate the ability to bust your ass in sales and marketing.

You might be surprised at their response.

- Eric


Patti said...

Great reminder that although we may look at the publishing world as this fairytale land, it really is a business full of expectations and demands.

Theresa Milstein said...

How do I let them know I'm a professional who busts her ass, and will do so in sales and marketing?

Matthew MacNish said...

It can be amazing how "lucky" you can be become once you are willing to work really hard.

Dawn Ius said...

Great post! Thanks for the reminder.

Hannah said...

Or you could just sign with Tor, they do all the marketing for you. Ha!

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Well, yeah.


Phoenix said...

In not so ironic news, I see the same Q&A played out with actors. My other actor friends ask, if they could get my agent to sign them, what my agent would want.

To which I reply: A professional.

So many of the creative types in this world are able to create but unable to be professional about it, and agents (of any type, including sports, literary, acting) just want someone they can work with. Someone who can be consistent, reliable, disciplined, and creative, all at once.

You nailed it on the head, Eric.

Jemi Fraser said...

Professionalism is always important :)

Eric W. Trant said...

Patti: Too many writers see being published as a right, as if it is somehow owed them for writing out a full manuscript.

Theresa: How do you let them know you're a professional? I suppose it starts with a good query letter and a professional tone, right up front.

e.g. Spell their name right! Send them a well-edited document. Know who they are and what they are looking for. Etc.

Matt: True for anything, not just writing! Work really hard and you still might fail, but at least you failed trying really, really hard, and hopefully someone will feel sorry for you and give you a case of beer or something to make you feel better. (Shiner Bock)

Dawn: You're welcome.

Hannah: Tor doesn't make you work? I'll have to look into that one...

Olivia: No duh.

Tracy: Ah, the other arts, too. Glad I'm not the only one who states the obvious, obviously. My brief and new dive into the writing world is with a printed anthology of short stories. I got to see first-hand how a publisher (or producer, for acting) dealt with 13 different writers. They gravitate toward the professionals.

Jemi: Exactly. Always. In everything, not just writing.

- Eric

Raquel Byrnes said...

I heard one of the best things you can do is put together a polished proposal with a cohesive marketing idea.

Also finishing my novel...probably a good idea. 0_o

Anonymous said...

What exactly is a "knucker"? Is it a bad word with a "k" instead of an "f" or is it something more? I've never heard this word...

Anyway, about your post. This seems a little cynical but totally correct. I guess in the end it is a business and the aim of the game is to make money! Thanks for reminding me.

Nighfala said...

You just depressed me. I don't know marketing. My sister has a degree in it; I don't.

I'm spending my time trying to write a good book. And build up my bloggy fans. But mainly to write the book. Because if I think about all the stuff I would have to do to market my book, and all the money I'd have to pour in to promotions, ads and freebies (which I know published authors do all the time, even those who are published by big houses) I will have a nervous breakdown. You have to quit your day job just to promote a book, let alone write one.

This is why writers become alcoholics. I need a drink.

Eric W. Trant said...

Raquel: Finish your novel. That's a GREAT idea!

Susie: What is a knucker? I've been using that term for over a decade, now, and I do believe you are the first person to ask what it is. That explanation requires its own blog post, but the quick answer is this: A knucker is a Celtic dragon.

And I don't mean to sound cynical. I suppose I am -- that's just me -- but the point is still valid. Be professional.

Christine: Sorry I depressed you. I don't mean you need all the answers, just that you are willing to set and work toward goals in a professional manner.

- Eric

Roni Loren said...

I think you make a great point. We sometimes get so wrapped up in the personal and artistic aspects that we forget about the business part.

And, btw, thanks for the hilarious comments on my blog this week. You definitely win the award for making me laugh the hardest. :)

Stephanie said...

Exactly. I get so sick of hearing writers whine about the's just like any other business out need to be able to make money. I ran my own business for years..I get it. If an agent doesn't think they can sell my work, well, it's not their problem, it's mine.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

You're right, Eric.

We are applying for a job. Period. They want to know what we can do for them. Not the other way around.

And like applying for a job, it's a matter of timing. If you're applying when their roster is filled ... Tough luck, buddy.

Have a great week, Roland

RaShelle Workman said...

Hello Mr. 100!!!
What's a knucker??? LOL

ps: excellent info and I'm Ms. 117 yippie!!!