On Wednesday, my writing buddy and I attended a writing event at the Winchester public library. It was hosted by David Hazard, who is a big name in the publishing industry. He’s an author who has generously helped launch careers for other aspiring authors. His company Ascent provides coaching and support services for writers.
Thankfully, he didn’t boast about his career or try to sell his business to us. It was very refreshing to go to a writing event and actually learn something about the business. Since Mr. Hazard was so humble and willing to open up to us, it sparked my curiosity where I researched him on my own.
I’ll spread the love and share what he taught us that night (the lecture hall was packed).
PERSONAL SIDE OF WRITING
1. Writers need inner-discipline. We have to hold our story ideas in high esteem. If we don’t believe in our books, then no one will.
2. When writing, DO NOT MULTI-TASK!
3. Create an open space in your life. Stop letting garbage clutter your mind, filling your brain with excuses on why you can’t write. Excuses are BS; you can do it.
4. Retrain the people in your life so they understand how important your writing routine is. Guard your time when you view writing as a business.
5. Always remember WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE! Believe in yourself, don’t give in to self-doubt.
1. Editors are always in need of new successful products (authors proposals/submissions) to fill a publishing house’s quota.
2. Research publishing houses and agents that are a good fit for your book. Find the right home, someone interested in your work, so they can successfully sell your product. Don’t just send your book to anyone.
3. DO HOMEWORK! There’s the Writer’s Market and Literary Market in libraries. Check company’s websites to compare how current those books are. Websites are more up-to-date with staff changes, new submission guidelines, etc.
4. If you’re interested in a particular publishing house, read the books they publish. What’s the new edge your story offers? What’s different about your book? Publishers don’t want in house authors competing with one another.
5. In order to get an agent or publishing house interested in picking up your novel, you need to “sale the sizzle, not the steak.” You need to create a hook to open up the imagination of your readers.
- If you’re not clear on the intention you want to provide your readers, then you aren’t ready to submit any query letters. For the hook, you have to connect to your audience. To connect is to understand them. What do you share in common with your readers? Where do you want to take the readers? What will the book do for the readers?
- Very few authors have universal readership. You need to pick your niche and stick to that target audience.
ONCE BOOK IS DONE–NOW TIME TO PRESENT IT
1. Publishers want to know what the author will do to support their own book. The business side of being an author is to promote and support your work.
2. Publishers want to know: why do you write? What do you write? Why did you choose that topic or genre? And your answer better not be “because I figure I’d make the most money this way”. They want to hear why you’re passionate about your subject, so they can create your author statement. They want to know what they’re selling to the world.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN PUBLISHER SAYS YES
1. An editor and about 5 other people will review your product at a board meeting. You’ll need a cover letter, summary, sample of writing, etc. After the editing process is completed, the publisher will decide if they want to pursue the project or decline it. Is it worth selling your book? Will it make the company a profit?
- You’re not asking someone to just support your dreams; you’re also asking them to invest a lot of money in you. Is your work worth the investment? If the answer is yes, you’ll receive a contract, sometimes an advance. Advance goes against your future royalties. Royalties are not calculated from the cover price (only the wholesale cost).
- You get to keep your advance, and the company will be out of money if your book doesn’t sell. Royalties kick in after the publishing house receives their advance investment. It’s in their best interest to work for you, to get their money’s worth.
2. Study the clauses–especially the fine print–of a contract VERY CAREFULLY! Find a lawyer to read it for you. Practice due diligence. With the business of writing, the author needs to be informed.
3. Once you sign the contract, a team of people will support you and your novel. The marketing and promotional departments will gladly meet with you if you ask (but they won’t offer if you don’t ask), but leave the creative design department alone. They do not want to hear your input because they are trained to know what cover design, back cover blurb, etc. will entice the readers’ senses.
4. The company wants you to be happy; however, they want your book to sell. You have to transfer trust at some point. They are professionals and know what they’re doing.
David Hazard was so nice that he even offered to stay an extra 30 minutes to answer every question from the audience. There were a lot of questions about self-publishing. He was for self-publishing, which was refreshing to hear. He said as long as the product is of QUALITY and it’s edited by a professional, you have a chance at a publishing house being interested in you. Nowadays, they browse the internet looking for the next big thing. If they see you have a quality product and you’ve had at least 1,000 book sales, you’re on the right track. He also mentioned if you start out one way, you don’t have to stay on that track throughout your career. For instance, if you became a self-publisher, it doesn’t mean the door will always be closed for the traditional route. If you chose the traditional route, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a self-publisher down the line.