Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, October 4, 2010

Who's Gonna Buy Your Book?

Revising Song of the Day: "Careful" by Paramore (check it out on our Rock With Us tab!)

UPDATE: Mr. Kleinman kindly ask that we change some material, and we happily obliged.

As you may already know, Quita and I attended the Hampton Roads Writers Conference a few days ago and we STILL have useful nuggets for all of you aspiring writers out there (and we'll have even more info since we're attending the James River Writers Conference this weekend--woo hoo!).

A really cool session I attended was called: "Buy THIS Book!" and was led by Jeff Kleinman from Folio Literary Management. This was an actual role-playing session where all of the participants had a chance to act as editors and pitch their very own manuscripts. Yes, I was a little intimidated, especially since I ended up sitting right next to Mr. Kleinman. But the session as a whole was very helpful. We all learned how we should pitch our stories to agents and editors at conferences (or even in query letters) by asking these questions:

  • What genre is your story? (Is it YA? Paranormal? Literary? Prescriptive nonfiction?)

  • What's your "log line"--or the single sentence that really sells your story?

  • What makes this story so special?

  • What are your possible competing works? (What similar books may cut into your sales?)

  • What are your possible comparable works? (What other books have similar messages or platforms?)
Not only did we get to answer these questions about our own books, but participants also had a chance to play some of the key roles in the publishing industry. This process helped me learn who exactly chooses to buy your books and why. The roles Mr. Kleinman included were:

1. Publisher: This is "Big Papa" or "Big Mama"--the one who makes the ultimate decision about your book.

2. Director of Marketing: He/she decides the selling strategy of your book.

3. Director of Special Sales: He/she finds target groups that will flock to your book.

4. Director of Publicity: He/she is the person who'll probably get you on the Today Show or Oprah. :)

5. Chain Representative: He/she reps chain bookstores, like Borders or Books-A-Million.

6. Director of Subrights: He/she handles other rights for your book, such as foreign and film (some agencies have this service in-house).

7. Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief: He/she helps steer production of your book in the right direction.

8. Editor: He/she is your liasion to the publishing industry.

As you can see, there are A LOT of people involved with deciding whether or not your book will hit shelves. Alas, don't get discouraged--knowing all of this info will help you know how to sell your book beforehand. I've already started developing pitches for books I haven't even written yet. :)


Holly Dodson said...

Very interesting post ladies! This is some great information. Thanks for sharing.

Racquel Henry said...

Thanks for the info. I didn't know there were so many different people involved! I'm glad you made it clear exactly who does what. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

Thanks for the lesson.

Have a great week, ladies.