During the last blog we asked you to think of your novel as a potato. As silly as that may sound, I want you to continue to think of your work as a potato. Why? Because now that you have your finished product – a polished manuscript – you need to change your mindset from being an artist, writer, and inspired author into that of a salesperson. In order to become effective as a salesperson, you need to cut your emotional ties to your work.
Your work is a product – like any other product. Let’s go back to the potato farmer. Sure he is proud that the potato he grew is the best potato he has ever seen. The planter thanks God for all the inspiration and raw material He sent to help him grow such a magnificent potato. However, after he admires his potato and harvests it, he knows it is time to sell it. It makes no sense to grow a potato that no one is going to eat. The potato was grown to give nutrition to a waiting consumer. It is the same with your product. If no one reads it, it was a waste of time for you to write it.
A potato goes through a middle-man before it is offered to the consumer. The farmer offers his potato to producers who then sell their potato to the distributor who ships the potato to the market. The market offers the potato to the consumer. It is no different with your product. Your job as the grower is to find the right producer and in your world of writing that is an agent. Agents are notoriously difficult to find. I have been looking for one to handle my potatoes for the last eight potatoes (books). I have yet to find one but I never give up. With each potato, I offer it to a few producers. Someday, I just may find one and it would make my professional life a little easier. I could concentrate on growing the potatoes instead of finding a distributor. Be Tenacious.
Luckily, even though I haven’t found a producer, I can offer my potato directly to the distributor. My job is to find the right distributor (publisher). First, I know the distributors are out there – looking for just the right potato. It’s important to them to find the best. They want the market to trust them in the future with potatoes just being planted. They are not the farmer’s enemy. So many writers are so emotionally tied to their product that they bristle with anger when a distributor (publisher) turns them down.
The initial mistake that many new farmers make is taking their potato to all the wrong distributors. Stand back and take a good look at your potato. It is a potato after all. Why would you offer your potato to a bean producer? Yet everyday writers offer a product to a publisher who doesn’t market what they are selling. Again, you may have a great potato, but a bean factory is not going to change all their automation and advertising for just one potato. Don’t send your novel to someone who only publishes non-fiction. Don’t send your Christian novel to someone who only publishes horror.
Assess what kind of potato you have. Is it Russet, red, or sweet? Find a distributor who markets your kind of potato. Look them up on line and follow the instructions (submission guidelines) carefully. Don’t be upset if one or many more distributors turn you down. Maybe they already have a ton of sweet potatoes. You wouldn’t get angry or discouraged if it was a ton of potatoes you were trying to market. It is the same with your book. Keep looking. Next time we will discuss what to do when no one wants your potato.
Karen Kelly Boyce lives on a farm in NJ with her retired husband Michael. She has two grown children and two grandchildren. She is an award-winning novelist and writes a children’s series for Chesterton Press