By Jennifer S. Wilkov, host of the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show on WomensRadio
As authors and writers, we’re always learning about resources and industry tools that we can use to improve our book project performance and the enjoyment of our writing and marketing experiences. Today let’s talk about why agents and publishers are picky for good reasons.
If you had a business and you wanted to represent quality products and services in your business, you would create a policy for what standards each item you represented should meet. After all, how would you be able to determine if they qualify until you set a standard?
Being an agent requires careful consideration about the books one chooses to represent, as being an agent means you are subtly stating that you are a good judge of great books and books that will sell in the marketplace. It also means that a keen eye for a quality book is essential, as representing each one is a reflection on your business and of your ability to pick out a book that will resonate with its readers. The bottom line is to determine whether the agent can sell your project and stand behind it as a project they believe in. After all, your book is not only your hook for getting the agent, it’s also going to be the agent’s hook for getting you a publisher.
Being a publisher is a different experience and perhaps an even pickier one. The publisher is investing their money to secure you as an author and pay for the design, production and distribution costs for your book. An investment in you is on the line for them. More than that, like any business, the publisher wants to feel confident in their return on investment that they will receive as a result of selecting your project to bring to market instead of someone else’s.
When an agent or publisher listens to your pitch and presentation about your book, they are listening for a project that meets their standards and catches their attention. After all, books are a business.
All the time, energy, money and effort you have invested in writing and crafting your 300 page novel, 200 page business book or 32 page children’s book is appreciated and acknowledged by an agent or publisher. But it is sometimes not enough to meet their standards of what they are willing to invest in.
That’s why you hear so many agents and publishers on the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show say that, first and foremost, you have to write a good book. Without this, your chances of being picked up to be published are minimal.
Understand that if you are not accepted by an agent or publisher, it’s not personal. It’s business. Books are their business and how they make their livelihood and pay their bills. They are not condemning you or your project when they say no. They are merely applying their standards for what they feel will sell – so that everyone, including you, will win.
The old saying of making a project a “win-win” for everyone holds true in the author-agent-publisher relationship and supply chain. When your project meets the standards of the agent and the agent feels confident in presenting you and your project to publishers, everyone has a much better opportunity to win and succeed.
The next time an agent opts not to represent your book, keep in mind that they are letting you know that in viewing your book as a business, they just don’t feel confident that it meets their standards. It also doesn’t mean that other agents agree and, in reality, they may feel differently about your book.
However, if you are receiving rejections from agent after agent, you may want to take a second look at your book through eyes of the book business – as a quality product for a business that wants to succeed. If professionals are telling you that your book isn’t meeting their standards for quality, you may want to take another pass at it to make sure it is polished up as a product others will want to represent.
Your commitment to your project and making it the best product it can be can give you a slight advantage for attracting an agent’s and publisher’s interest. On the other hand, when you react personally to an agent’s rejection, it may repel the very interest you’re seeking for your book.
Look, listen and inquire about what can be done to make your book saleable in the eyes of the agents and publishers. Be open to suggestions and listen for guidance. Then see if what you hear makes good sense to you for your project. Stay true to yourself and make your project the best it can be. After all, before it reflects on an agent or publisher, it’s going to reflect on you.
For more information on this Education Corner topic and others, please refer to www.YourBookIsYourHook.com/blog for more articles and resources to help you with your books.