If you’re trying to get an agent or publisher for your book, there are a lot of things you need to do but also several you shouldn’t. Here are a few things that will turn off a publisher or agent when you’re pitching them!
1) Everyone loves my book: don’t lead your pitch with this. In fact my recommendation is to leave this out of your pitch altogether. The definition of “everyone” is generally friends and family and while we love them for being a supportive bunch, when it comes to mainstream publishing they don’t really count.
2) No one else has written a book like this, it’s never been done before. This is a big red flag to almost anyone in the book world; if it’s never been done there might be a reason. They say there are no new ideas, certainly there are but publishing tends to fall into categories and if it’s never been done, there might be a reason. If it really is a new idea, great! But do your research first before you toss out the “first book on this topic ever!”
3) My book should be a movie or – my book is going to be the next bestseller. No one can predict a bestseller or, for that matter, what will become a blockbuster movie. I know if Hollywood and the New York publishing community could predict this, they’d be in a much better financial state than they are now. The fact is, you might wish or hope that your book becomes the next classic but even you, the uber talented author can’t predict this so don’t pretend you can. It’s a big eye-rolling turn off. Trust me.
4) Don’t stalk your agent/publisher: Ok, now I don’t mean stalking in the sense that Lifetime is considering making a movie out of you but I mean hounding, badgering, emailing daily, calling. You know, the super annoying stuff that will get you blacklisted off of every agent and publisher’s list. Trust me, word will spread like wildfire if you’re a pain in the you-know-what. It’s also the quickest way to a rejection. Follow-up is ok, burning up the phone lines or hitting your send button obsessively isn’t. Keep in mind that patience will often win this race. If you have found an agent that you trust, then trust them to do their job.
5) Not wanting to take feedback or reject professional advice: a good agent and/or publisher will offer you feedback on your book. Perhaps ways to enhance/correct it. Things you might want to consider adding to make it more commercially viable. Listen to these comments and learn from them, then, swallow your own opinions and consider incorporating them into your book. If you really have an objection that’s another thing, but if pride is getting in your way then back off of the ego and see some of the points they’re making as helpful and constructive. The writer sure to fail is the one who won’t listen.
It’s a competitive market out there and these are the things that will not only hurt your career, but delay the publication of your book as well.
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