Read this one? Pass it on to your friends - it's a great story! This would be the perfect book to give for the holidays.
Oftentimes the best way to learn how to get your book published is by listening to those who've already walked the path successfully. And Janna Cawrse Esarey's story is an extraordinary one. I became familiar with Janna through her fabulous editor at Simon and Schuster, Michelle Howry. When I invited Michelle onto this blog to talk about Confidence in a writer's life a few months ago, she focused on her author Janna and how Janna confidently approached her market to sell her book, The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers & a Woman's Search for The Meaning of Wife. After hearing this and reading through Janna's website, I had to know more about her path, because let's face it - writing a book, finding an agent and publisher is not for the faint of heart. Doing most of that on a small boat in the middle of an ocean takes an absolute belief in self and iron clad persistence - both of which are must-have necessities along your path to publication.
TLC: Janna gives us lots of great learning points here, but most importantly she points out that over time and failed pieces, she discovered who her true audience was and how to reach them. This is key, writers. Before you sit down to write your heart out, know who you want to connect with. Who is your audience? How do you identify with them and what will they learn from you? Is your work so compelling/thoughtful/entertaining/informative that thousands will want to read it?
I recently attended a lit festival in my city and listened to a very successful author suggest "the word 'genre' is all marketing." I know as a writer and literature lover some of you may hate to be forced to classify the books you love and write under certain categories. Categorizing your audience may seem even more ridiculous. It may seem limiting...but look at it this way, we've been cataloging "stuff" to make sense of whatever it is for a very long time. We put a name on this stuff so we can identify it. Become familiar with it. It's not just about a group of overworked publishing marketing execs sitting high above the hustle of Manhattan plotting how they're going to diminish the true breadth of your literary masterpiece by pigeonholing it.
When you write, listen to your heart. Be passionate about your story or information you wish to impart. Craft it like a true artisan. But also consider your audience. Knowing WHO they are and WHAT they like is your first step toward creating something truly viable in a sea of commercial fiction and nonfiction published annually.
Your Exercise This Week: Janna mentions pitching her book at writers' conferences was key to her success. Pitching your novel at conferences to real, live agents and emailing your pitch letter from the safety of your own home are two totally different experiences. Take the anxiety you may feel out of the conference situation by knowing you're there to make friends. Agents will remember the personable writers...those who are relaxed yet professional...and most of all, confident! Sure, you're going to come across prickly agents who will totally unnerve you despite your best efforts...don't take their character flaws personally, my dears. Move on.
Do you have your in-person pitch ready? Is it under a minute? Does it hook the listener? Think of lit agent, Kristin Nelson's spot on pitch paragraph advice from last week...can you translate that into a comfortable, confident in-person pitch? Try it!
Of course, let me know how it goes!
Any pitch success stories you want to share? Do tell!
Have an enlightening week, writers! Thank you for joining us.