Monday, May 17, 2010

Give Editors What They Want

It's a hard lesson for writers to learn, apparently. Editors don't want to see what you want to write. Editors want to see what they want to publish. There's a difference.

For example, I've been pitching a book about Papa Hemingway's time in Cuba for the past half dozen years or more. Every year, my agent resurrects it and tries to get some publisher to pick it up. Every year, she has no luck. Not because it's not a good book, and not because it's not publishable. Not only would it make a great read, it would sell like hotcakes. Still, no luck.

Then, on a lark, I asked her to pitch a new book idea about three early feminist writers, and the editors went crazy vying to be first to pick it up. ("Let me know IMMEDIATELY if anyone else shows interest in this project before I get back to you.")

What's the difference? I'm guessing that, since Hemingway died a long time ago and the marketplace has been flooded with stories about Papa ever since, prospects for picking up another book on the same subject and publishing it successfully may seem remote. But a book about three pioneering women who just also happened to be writer/feminists? Are you kidding? How en vogue. How politically correct. How hip!

I guess the lesson I learned from all of this is simple: Hit 'em where they ain't. Or, more appropriately, pitch the ones they want.

Sure, you can keep plugging away at your own pet projects. Every writer has them; there's nothing wrong with that. But, in the meantime, you should consider thinking long and hard about generating some more commercially viable properties, what makes for a successful publishable book, and what editors are likely to think people are likely to buy.

That's one of the ways AmSAW contributes to your success. Every story we run, every photo we publish is a nudge in a new direction. Read what SCRIBE! Media Magazine Professional has to offer with an unbiased eye toward who's making the news and today's hottest trends. If it's happening today (or will be happening tomorrow), some publisher somewhere is going to be interested in a book on the subject. See what I mean?

Copyright 2009 AmSAW

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