The Business of Publishing

Once again I have gotten lost down the rabbit hole with my manuscript, editing the bejabbers out of it. I’m much happier with it now and finally I can say I’m done. It’s ready for a real editor who can polish it up.  I hope to be putting up a summary soon for all those interested.

It’s a great feeling when you can finally say that it’s done. That feeling lasted all of…a day, I think? Now comes the hard part. The full court press towards publishing. I’ve been doing this great workshop for a few months now and we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty stuff. We’ve finished up the query and are working on Twitter pitches.

What are they? From time to time industry folks will have a publishing contest using Twitter. I absolutely love these since I learn a ton even if I’m just an observer and not actually doing the contest. In order to participate in some of them you have to pitch your novel in 140 characters. It’s…I cannot lie…excruciating. Especially with a novel like mine which is the Seinfeld equivalent of contemporary fiction, a book about nothing.

But wait! No, I didn’t really write a book that was actually about nothing, it’s a boy meets girl story and you’d be surprised how hard they are to promote.  There’s conflict a plenty, but it’s relationship-based and that doesn’t translate as well as a girl running for her life from terrorists while trying to defuse a bomb that will blow up the world if she fails.

Stakes matter – a lot, and mine aren’t as easy to relate. The world will not end if my main characters cannot get past the damage that their losses have dealt them and learn to love.  If they screw up and fall apart they both will be in a world of hurt, but I’m not sure it would be fatal.  This makes it hard to put a real ‘wow’ factor in a pitch.

My other struggle is that I’m not a natural at concise communication.  I like clever turns of phrase and I like detail.  This comes up at the day job as well. I can write an email to a client that would make angels weep, but getting something detailed and yet brief enough for my CEO to read… that’s another matter. (Really, if your email is longer than a paragraph it better have bullet points or he/she isn’t reading it.  Truth.)

In the end publishing is a business.  An agent or editor has to know at a glance if a work is something they can sell which is why queries and these pitches are so very important.  And I want to produce the kind of pitch that makes someone shift in their seat with impatient excitement to get their hands on my MS.

What is it you do to make your novel drool-worthy for agents and publishers?  Is there a trick to sounding awesome in a 140 characters?