By Kellie Coates Gilbert
Thousands of authors and books exist in today’s publishing environment. With those kinds of numbers, if novelists want to excel in the delivery of great fiction to the widest audience possible, we must develop a certain mindset that positions us for success, especially those of us who are partnering with traditional publishing houses. Here are five action items I’ve found are essential to this success:
1. Partner with the best people possible.
Do your research and know which agent and publishing house fits the kind of fiction you write. One of the best tools for accomplishing this is Publisher’s Marketplace, an on-line service associated with Publisher’s Weekly. You can subscribe for about $25 per month with no contract. Once purchased, you can access a massive database of dealmakers, including agents, publishers and contract deals that will help you research who represents what you write and who they sell to and the advance amounts (in a range of figures, not exact).
2. Establish yourself as one of the team.
Once your manuscript is sold and the contract is executed, I recommend setting up an initial telephone call directly with your editor and marketing director. Ask to visit the house in person (on your own dime if necessary). You will want to meet your team members, but more importantly, you want people in the publishing house (editors, salesman, publicists) to know you. There is nothing like a physical meeting to keep you from being just one of the crowd.
3. Be helpful…..and never demanding.
Be the kind of author you’d like to work with. Don’t shy away from providing honest opinions and ideas. BUT, never act demanding. Always communicate in a business-like manner and let your team know you understand their business considerations. Try to identify what they care about and approach your team members at the publishing house with that in mind. Eliminate the word MY from the conversation and replace with OUR.
4. Send gifts.
Often, fellow authors balk when I say this. But, this is another really great opportunity to set yourself apart from the author roster and create personal connections. These people at your publishing house work hard and when you know they are having a sales meeting, have some cupcakes delivered. The salesmen and retailers will remember you fondly as well.
5. Don’t play the comparison game
There are a multitude of business reasons why one author gets a certain marketing program different from yours. Don’t compare. Don’t expect to get the same treatment as a bestselling author who brings in tons of revenue. Ain’t gonna happen. So, be practical in your expectations and you will be a lot more content. That said, don’t have low expectations either. You have every right to expect that your team will do everything possible to build your brand and sell your books.
These are my top five suggestions for building a publishing team who will work hard for you. Employ these tactics and watch how this effort positively affects your sales!
Kellie Coates Gilbert is known for thrilling readers with her fast-paced, highly emotional contemporary stories for women. RT Book Reviews called Kellie’s writing “crisp and deft storytelling.” Her books have often been Pulpwood Queen selections and Library Journal chose A Woman of Fortune as one of their Best Books of 2014. A former legal investigator, Kellie spent nearly twenty-five years working in courtrooms and behind the scenes of some of the largest and most well-known cases in America. Her books not only explore the heart issues that matter most to women, but often allow readers an inside peek into her former legal world. Her book A Reason To Stay released 10-6-15.