The Book’s the Thing
I’ve been thinking about all the information for writers available now on the internet. It’s great for writers because although getting published has never been more challenging, there has never been so much information available about how to do it. But there are so many people giving advice that it must get overwhelming sometimes.
Getting published today involves more than writing your book (as you know), so blogging and Twittering agents are constantly giving tips about queries and proposals and marketing your book. But here’s the thing: All that stuff is irrelevant without a good book.
It’s your book that matters most.
Not your query or your proposal or your marketing plan. Your book. It has to work on every level. It has to appeal to a lot of people, and it has to be saleable.
Agents talk a lot about queries, and we give plenty of tips to help you get it right. But the query boils down to making a clear and concise presentation of your book. Just tell us enough that we get a feel for it and want to read it. Be polite and professional and try to avoid coming across like a crackpot. It’s worth putting some effort into, but 99.9% of your effort should be in your book.
So if it’s all about the book, then why are we constantly giving you advice on so many other things, especially queries? Well, we have some really good reasons for doing that. And by “we” I mean all of the agents who blog and Twitter.
Here’s why we do it:
1. We’re trying to set you up for success. Honestly. We want to give you the tools to get it right.
2. If your book is really good, we want to be able to recognize it. If your query doesn’t shine, we might miss it. We really want your query to give us a glimpse of your book.
3. We harp on submission guidelines because we’re trying to avoid wasted effort—yours and ours. Let’s face it, we are all overloaded with too much to do. We need to streamline our processes. When you write your query properly and send it only to appropriate agents, it makes the best use of your time and ours.
4. We want you to know what it looks like from our end of the desk. The world of publishing and literary agents used to be shrouded in mystery, but we don’t want it that way. We’re trying to help demystify the business.
Don’t stress out too much about all the advice you find online. Learn what you can from it and enjoy being part of the writing community (because that’s what all this blogging and Twittering is about anyway). But focus mostly on your book.
Q4U: Do you find you’re distracted from the writing by all the trappings the publishing biz?