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Five Ways to Kill Your Publishing Opportunity
Thursday, December 30, 2021 by Cindy Sproles

pixabay.com & ottawagraphicsAs a lead managing editor, one of my jobs is acquisitions. It's the most challenging part because I spend a lot of time saying no thank you. There are multiple explanations of why I am forced to pass on a manuscript. Rejections fall into many categories, from poor writing to demanding and insulting authors.

I've spent time developing new classes for conferences, and it has become increasingly more evident one of those new classes needed to focus on how authors kill their writing opportunities. It's important to know that the way I choose to give rejections differs from many other acquisitions editors. Rejections received from me explain to the author why they are rejected, plus a shortlist of suggestions and a bit of encouragement. Yes, it takes time, but this is how I choose to handle the ways I offer rejections. I've been on the receiving end of those rejections hundreds of times, and regardless of the kindness used, a rejection hurts. A touch of encouragement is never wrong.

Here are five ways guaranteed to kill your publishing opportunity.

Social Media Blindness tops my list. I recently sent a rejection to an author with the suggestion to build a website, work to make a presence on social media, and guest blog. Her response was, "I don't like social media. It's like self-promotion."

Social media is just what the name says. Social. If you head into social media intending to advertise your book, all you do is wave a flag saying buy my book, then Dorothy click away on those shoes, but your red slippers will not get you home. Be social on social media. Make friends, reply to posts, genuinely make an effort to know others. My rule of thumb is to make ten plus posts for others or enjoyable things and one post as an update on my upcoming book. People will follow you because you are genuine. Post memes, share fun things, personal tidbits. Stay away from controversial topics and allow your friends to have a break from the junk of the world. Some of my highest ranking posts are when I share personal mishaps. Not only are they funny, but folks relate. Publishers are not asking you to self-promote. They are asking you to build a following of friends who love you so when your book does publish, they will want to read it. Again I say. Be social. If you need to learn social media, attend Mountainside Marketing early in the year.

"I'm too old to learn new marketing and apps" rates number 2. I'm definitely over 60, so this is not an excuse. It may be true that my six-year-old grandson can do more with a computer than me, but I'm willing to try to learn. You are never too old.

A few years back, we contracted a book with an 89-year-old woman. It was a great little devotional, humorous and it hit the market of seniors. As we sat telling her she needed to make a presence on social media, her sweet hand shook while she took notes. I'll never forget her response. "Don't have a clue what you just said, but I'll get my grandson to help me." And she did. She went home, enlisted the help of her grandson, who set her up on Facebook and Goodreads, and to this day, the woman is constantly on the web. The point is – she was willing to make an effort. Not only that but every opportunity to set up a book table and sell books, Liz is there. She's praying for folks on Facebook, sharing her family outings, telling funny things that happen to her as an aging senior. People love her. And by the way, she's soon to be 97. My question is, what is your excuse? She runs circles around all of us. Her books are not bestsellers, but the woman is a worker. If we suggest she try a new method to sell her books, she grabs that grandson, and she's off to the races. Age is not an excuse, but the heart is everything.

"God told me you were the one" finds its spot as number 3. I don't doubt God speaks to others. He is, after all, God. But the truth is, this comes across as a manipulative guilt tactic. What God tells you and what He speaks to me are two different things.  To quote singer/songwriter Rich Mullins, "God hasn't told me yet, and until He does, it just won't happen." I pray over every submission then trust God will lead me with personal discernment and good common sense. I once had a man preach to me how terrible I was for rejecting his manuscript. God had told him I was the one to publish his book. It didn't matter that we didn't publish YA. The point is, guilting an editor is not the way to win an opportunity to publish. The publishers and editors I work with across the country are all believers. They pray daily over their jobs and the work they receive, seeking guidance and personal counsel. This is not fair, nor is it professional.

"I WANT this done, now!" would be number 4. In the mountains, there's an adage, "Don't burn no bridges on your way to town." Simply put, play nice because if you don't, you won't be invited to play again. Perhaps this age of entitlement presses this attitude to the forefront. Authors, who, once they have a contract in hand, turn nasty. Suddenly they know what is best for the publishing industry and their book. Did you know that it no longer belongs to the author once a book contract is signed? It's now the property of the publisher. Publishers want authors involved in the process of publishing. It's what makes the book special so trust them. Their years of experience in marketing, editing and publishing far exceed a new author's. Publishers aren't in the business to cause a book to fail. It is costly to spend valuable time arguing with a demanding author who thinks they have all the answers. That publisher may complete the project and work hard to sell it because they are financially invested, but rejection is probably inevitable when a second manuscript crosses their desk. Don't burn bridges on your way to town. An attitude like this will follow you all across the industry.

Multiple emails sending the corrected, corrected file win the final spot. I will only say this. Before you hit send, be sure the work is 1) Right. 2) The best it can be. 3) The correct file. I've done it myself, grabbed the wrong file. It happens. But when you are submitting, you must pay attention.  Set a new folder on your desktop. Label it Final Work, then save your final copy there. When I worked for a veterinarian, he taught me always to do a three count when filling a prescription. Read the prescription, check the bottle, count the pills. Do that three times before you bag it for the customer. It's a good practice for authors too. Check it three times before you send it. There is nothing that makes you look less professional than multiple emails that are incorrect.

Take these things and ponder them. How can an author improve their opportunities if they don't know what issues need to be addressed?  Give yourself every reasonable chance to become published, and don't kill the opportunity.

 

Photos courtesy of pixabay.com, ottawagraphics & RobinHiggins

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Comments

Cathy Mayfield From PA At 1/6/2022 3:14:06 PM

I've let many conference opportunities slip away. Some were from a lack of discipline. Others were a matter of timing - jumping in with an idea not ready to be pursued or having too much on my plate to do so. But POSSIBILITIES is my word for 2022! Here's to reconnections, new contacts, & more!

Leigh DeLozier From Georgia At 1/1/2022 9:07:54 AM

These are all good reminders, but your story about Liz especially hit home for me. I want to have that gumption as an author myself! It's easy to get comfortable with what we're doing but we should never give up on trying something new. Happy New Year!

Barb Winters From Florida At 12/31/2021 8:51:34 AM

Great info! Thanks! :-) And Happy New Year!

Sandra Kay Chambers From Leland, NC At 12/31/2021 8:09:39 AM

Thanks for this inside view of what writers need to avoid when working with publishers and acquisition editors.

kelly evans From North Carolina At 12/31/2021 7:36:46 AM

Love your down to earth, common sense attitude and advice. Thank you!

Mountain Breeze Writer


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