I’ve only been exploring the Land of Publishing for the past eight months or so. That gives me the credential of a world renowned expert. So today I am humbly sharing what I’ve learnt with those writers who are less astute than I....
-The cover letter is not just a piece of paper to keep dust of the manuscript (for the dwindling number of houses that still accept snail mail). It is (wait for it...) a business letter! It needs to make an impression. So....
use fancy paper with a crazy font to show just how creative you are. Try using different font sizes in the one sentence for effect.
-Add lots of exclamation marks to convey just how thrilled you are to be sending them your baby!!!!!! A smiley face will underscore, especially to a children’s publisher, that even though you’re on the wrong side of thirty, you’re still with it (groovy, baby!)
-“selling” the story with superlatives shows how much faith you have in your work. It will demonstrate that you’re fresh and enthusiastic. (My story is an original, hilarious, fast paced novel that will have readers’ eyes glued and breathless with anticipation until they turn the very last page).
-Compare yourself to the Giants in the industry. This is to demonstrate your faith in your work (“It combines the hilarity of a Roald Dahl with the suspense of a JK Rowling”.) Writers tend to be shy, humble folk, so someone confident enough to promote themselves aggressively will naturally stand out above the pack.
-Telling them how much your kids love your work shows them that you’ve researched the market. Even if you have no children.
-Tell them about your fresh idea. Don’t actually give away much about the plot. The industry is rife with plagiarism, and you don’t need to leave yourself open to an unscrupulous agent or editor. Just make the point again and again that it is wonderful.
-It doesn’t matter if you haven’t completed the manuscript, a good agent or editor will see the potential in it from your query alone. You’ll probably be more motivated to finish it once the agent is salivating for a taste. It’s ok to keep them hanging for a year. You’re an artist, they get that.
-Once you’ve sent or emailed your query, keep phoning the editor or agent to make sure they know just how keen you are. Daily, even hourly, phone calls will make sure they won’t forget you. It’s a hassle, sure, especially as they will pretend your calls are unwelcome. Think about it as raising a profile.
-Demonstrate your flair for originality by giving them a puzzle to solve with a password that gives them access to an excerpt of your manuscript on your web site. Agents and editors are dedicated folk; they won’t mind spending hours trying to solve the puzzle, and it just makes you look really, really clever. They like clever.
-If, by a miracle, the proposal is rejected, fell free to let them know exactly how you feel. Let off a barrage of criticism describing (in no uncertain terms) their feeble, puny brains and lack of taste. Then criticise the company on line, on every available forum. This will work to your advantage, as they will feel humbled at their obvious error. Rejection is personal. Treat it that way.
With my business savvy, it will be a matter of weeks, no, days – for my work to get accepted.
Now, I might have deliberately included a piece of misinformation. Or two. Just to see who was listening. And if you have more advice to add to this goldmine (that, even with my highly developed sense of this industry I may have failed to include), please add it to the comments. Prize of a 10-page critique for the info I judge to be “the best” (and two critiques for the worse).