The name of the game is entrepreneur. Roll that word around on your tongue for a spell. While you’re at it, you can reshuffle the job of writing to the bottom rung of your to-do list.A few years ago, a speaker at one of my favorite conferences (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold) had the vision of the future in regards to publishing, shared it, scared the lunch out of my back side—the same could probably be said for my fellow addicts...whoops, I mean writers—and sure enough he was dead on. It has come to pass. The days of the talented new writer being ‘discovered’ by the mighty New York press machine are all but on life support if even that. Publishers sign writers via different means now.
But who can blame The Big Apple for its modern strategy?
Have you ever seen Shark Tank? Before you register for a seminar and editor/agent pitches, tuck that TV program into the back of your mind.
If you decide to attend the convention, you’ll probably get a kick out of the similarities between the investor/product inventor negotiations and the editor/writer pitches. No doubt, somewhere in the conference, you’ll wander into a workshop on ‘developing your brand’, much like James Patterson is a brand. If you get a little face time with an agent, chances are they’ll ask you about your media presence: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etcetera which work like a dream for established celebrities, but just drain precious time like life blood from struggling writers. That’s not just my opinion. Ask the aspiring authors at the conference and you may unleash a Pandora’s Box of groaning.Note, also, that independent presses (or for clarity, publishers other than the biggies in New York) consume most of the conferences these days. Sure, some heavy players will be there, but for the most part, they’re hanging out to haggle with the agents who have placed their clients with indies and are ripe for the next step.
Think about it. If you were an editor with an acquisition budget to risk on a keyboard plucker, wouldn’t you want to know that he or she has investments in their business, some established tenacity, maybe even a little bit of a following? All New York has to do is kick back, watch Amazon, and take its pick of desperate novelists who are ‘on the brink’. I think this is pretty smart of the giant presses. Make no mistake. It IS their business model now for regular-joe new acquisitions.
Recently, I mentioned on the Rock that back in the day, I had pals who got picked up by New York at conferences. Bam. Pow. Like out of the movies, somebody’s dream just came true in a five minute meeting. Yet those victory stories started waning basically to almost nothing. Even with small reputable presses, the book deals dwindled. That’s because all the editors hit a slump of us writers who value putting words on paper much more than spending time trying to be the popular kid on Twitter.This current technique does yield fruit though. I have a good friend, talented mystery writer, who has worked her tail off and just recently signed a contract with one of the giants…after paying dues with a classy independent for several years. We’ll probably be interviewing her shortly. I’m SO tickled for her.
Here’s to you attracting a big money investor at your next novel pitch!