Sunday, August 30, 2009

Are You a Desperate Writer or Author?

Are You a Desperate Writer or Author?
By Patricia Fry

When you approach an editor with a great article idea, is your anxiety level off the charts? When you send your manuscript to a publisher, are you filled with fear and apprehension? Will you grovel in hopes of hearing the “Yes” response? In other words, do you come across as sounding desperate when you present your work for publication?

What about those of you with books to promote? How do you approach reviewers, booksellers and consumers? Does the desperation you feel come out in your spiel?

Promoting a book amidst the hundreds of thousands of others is tough. Getting an article or a book manuscript accepted is really difficult in today’s competitive publishing climate. But you’re not going to make it any easier—in fact, it becomes much less likely that your project will be picked—if you come across as desperate.

If you were a publisher, which author would you rather work with? It would be hard to warm up to one who says, “Please, please publish my book. I’ve worked so hard. It really is good—my friends say so and my mother loves it. I really, really must get this published. If you don’t give me a contract, my life might as well be over.” Yikes! Or would you feel more comfortable and confident in the author who says, “Per your request, I’ve enclosed the book proposal for my book, ‘The Chimney Man.” Please review it and let me know if you need anything additional.”

If you think this is a far-fetched example, you’re wrong. Some hopeful authors are so anxious to get that publishing contract that they will cajole, plead and even threaten in anticipation of landing one.

I’ve watched published authors practically beg people to buy their books and then become almost despondent when they didn’t. At a book festival or book singing, for example, this attitude can kill any potential for sales. Approach a potential customer with a down-trodden attitude and they won’t feel much like buying any book from you.

What does a disappointed writer/author do? Pretend, if you have to. So, book sales are slow, don’t make it the potential customer’s problem. Approach each new customer with the same sense of excitement and pride you felt in your book the first time you saw it—the first time you sold a copy. Forget about your sales figures. If you maintain a positive, confident stance with your customers, booksellers and reviewers, your bottom line will take care of itself.

The same holds true for hopeful authors. Approach publishers with an air of professionalism. Ooze with confidence about your project. But you can do this only if you are confident that you have a viable product. The only way you can be sure is to write a business plan (book proposal) for your book before you make the rounds with it. Make sure you are writing the right book for the right audience and then make a solid case for it BEFORE you start showing it around (and before you self-publish it).

If you are a freelance writer who is trying to land assignments or just sell an article or story, likewise, approach editors with confidence in your idea, your writing abilities, the timeliness of your idea, etc. Take “no” for an answer, if this is the answer you get, and move on. Rejection does not mean you don’t have a good idea or a well-written piece. It could mean one or more of many things.

For example,

• The magazine has covered this subject recently.
• They have a piece like this in the works.
• Your story idea conflicts with an advertiser’s message.
• There were other articles on this subject submitted—yours didn’t make the cut.
• The topic is outside their realm of interest.
• The slant is not right for this magazine.
• Your piece is too biased.
• The editor doesn’t like your stationery.

Fellow freelance writers, rejection happens—and it happens a LOT. Do what those of us who eventually succeed do: get up, dust yourself off, reevaluate your piece, thoroughly research other potential homes for this piece and, if needed, refine your approach. Always come across as confident and professional.

Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and the author of 29 books. Her articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Entrepreneur Magazine, Cat Fancy, Your Health, The Toastmaster and many others. View her collection of books at Click here And visit her informative publishing blog often:
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