Making the Long Wait Work For You

It’s great to be able to say that I love my clients to pieces, every last one of them. I’m lucky to have a lot of empathetic authors in my stable, people who understand that publishing often moves at a glacial pace and who are willing to take that slow ride with me.

This is a business of long-range plans. In track-and-field parlance, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to develop a good, bulletproof proposal; time to perfect a manuscript so that it is suitable for presentation to a publishing-industry professional. Then it takes time for acquiring editors to consider it; to bring it to their acquisitions boards and to the dreaded marketing department, which often has the final Yea or Nay. And, assuming the book does find a home with a publisher, it can be a full year or two before it’s edited, designed, printed, and available for sale.  Publishing schedules are planned far ahead, with projects lined up and slotted in like backed-up planes on a runway, waiting to take off.

Many authors now realize that this lag time can be maximized to market that forthcoming book. It’s the chance to build and strengthen your platform, to size up publicity opportunities that might be available further down the road when the book is launched. Monthly magazines that work four to six months ahead have to be pitched well before their long lead times. Holy-Grail dream targets like Terri Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air or anything with the name Oprah in it need to be approached early. And all the while, you can be increasing your social media presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

These days, unless you pay dearly for the services of a public-relations firm, nobody is going to do all of this for you. Publishers’ overworked marketing staffs can only devote so much time to each book, each season. The more you can bring to the table marketing-wise, the better your chances of a successful book. That’s why publishers are always on the lookout for authors who bring their own strong platform with them.  If you can offer that, you’ve already won half the battle.

Do you have any of your own thoughts on how to maximize that waiting time? I’d be happy to hear them.

 

4 Responses to Making the Long Wait Work For You

  1. Alice, Sophomore at 68 says:

    Three of my articles have been published in a University Journal.(some of my 14 endorsements)…deeply humbling: Elie Wiesel, Drs. Wayne Dyer, Nikki Giovanni, Alice Miller and Larry Dossey.Upon writing a query letter, is it considered appropriate to mention these items.Thank you so kindly!Sincerely, AliceVietnam era veteran, dancer, singer, poet, etc.

  2. DGLM says:

    Dear Alice,

    Certainly, you should include these in your query letter. Just be judicious in what you choose, as you still don’t want your query letter to run too long. The equivalent of a page or so, single-spaced, is what you should aim for.

    Eric Myers

  3. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    Long game is what we’re playing here, so after one is signed by the dynamic agent in question, the 3 or 4 unsold but still marketable) properties every new writer is required by law to have in their kit bag immediately go into the machine shop for final touches-any unsold work more than 3 years old automatically being reclassified as rough drafts, of course. Also, since no one in any wider audience searches the net for news of a writer they’ve never heard of, focus of on a realistic ARC strategy to places that will actually impact that audience when the project under way finally nears the actual market. Goodreads, People, Entertainment Weekly, that sort of thing. (I have made the aqaintance of an agent who was so hopelessly unworldly as to consider an online interview with GalleyCat to be a major stroke of marketing genius) And also, it might help to add “One November Night In The Early 21st Century” to the prologue page of the real-time narrative story currently wending it’s way through the fog in order to freeze-frame it for freshness…

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