5 Keys to Getting Noticed by Editors & Publishers
Getting the attention of editors and publishers can be notoriously difficult. There are many factors to consider, but there are a few things that you can do to help you and your work stand out from the crowd. Let’s see how you can give yourself a competitive edge in this tough industry.
- Give Them What They Ask For
Most publishing houses and publications make their submission guidelines easily accessible. They are probably displayed quite prominently on their website. Review the guidelines for each submission or pitch you make – and then adhere to them. Can you imagine the frustration one feels when a writer has submitted work, which has no doubt taken them a long time, only to disregard the guidelines that the publisher has stipulated? This shows a lack of interest on the writer’s part and may suggest that they will be as lackadaisical in the work going forward. Remember, that getting a book deal is not the end of the work for a writer, you will have to work with the publisher throughout – and they want to be sure that the writer is dependable.
- Polish Your Work
Writing a book can take a long time, years in fact for some people! But just because it has taken ages to write does not mean that once you have reached the end it is finished. First drafts are usually quite different from the final version that gets published. Polish your work as much as you can before getting a professional to look at it. Any project that requires a deep commitment, like writing a book, can be hard to step away from to get perspective. As this perspective is very important, hiring a professional editor to proofread the book for you will help to get it to the level that publishers and editors expect.
Don’t forget to craft and polish your query letter too.
- Be Professional
Do you dream of becoming a professional writer who can earn a living from writing? If so, then you must act like a professional from the start. This should filter throughout your writing practice and the way in which you interact with people from the publishing world. Treat your writing much like you would your full-time job. Use professional language, respond to messages within a reasonable time frame and should you get the opportunity of a face to face meeting, put your phone on silent and dress neatly.
- Focus On One Great Thing
When you are preparing your submission you should be aiming to do two things – firstly, don’t give them a reason to say no (see above points) and try to highlight your USP, otherwise known as your Unique Selling Point. This is a term usually employed by salespeople, and though you might shy away from anything salesy, as you are an artist – ultimately, you need to sell yourself to the publishers and editors. They are in the business of selling, be it books, magazines, journals, whatever, they are a business and they sell. So, you should get used to selling too, it will come with the territory if you are lucky enough to embark on a book tour!
Before you can sell yourself to them, however, you need to identify what exactly your USP is – that is, not your book’s USP but yours as a writer. Your book will also have a USP too, though, so keep that in mind. Being able to identify and articulate this to the editor or publisher in your submission will give you a fighting chance.
- Be Brief
Remember that although your book is your baby which you have poured your heart and soul into, for the editor or publisher that submission is just one of thousands that they receive annually. The last thing you want is to blend in with the pile of mediocre ones crowding that publishing professional’s desk. This is where crafting your letter comes in, you need to write in a way that grabs their attention, showcase your USP, introduce your book or article and yet keep it all to within a page. You will most likely enclose supporting documentation such as a storyline, character sketches and of course the extract from your work, but your letter itself should not ramble on for longer than absolutely necessary.
Once you set yourself up as a professional writer who approaches their writing like a job then the care and attention you put into your work will instantly make you appear better than the majority of applicants. Unless you are very lucky it will take time to get noticed, but we have all heard the story of countless rejections before a publisher picked up a manuscript that went on to become an international bestseller. Just think of all the works we would never have read if those authors gave up in the early days. Stay strong and committed and you will get there eventually. As Samuel Beckett wrote, ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’.
Mary Frenson is a Marketing Assistant at Checkdirector.co.uk, a new source of information on UK companies. Mary is always happy to share her marketing ideas and thoughts on business issues. In her free time she enjoys handicrafts.