Sunday, July 15, 2012

Guest editor Sunny Frazier: Why you got that rejection letter


Sunny Frazier
Acquisitions Editor
Oak Tree Press
You've worked hard on your query. You followed all the “rules” you read in writing magazines. You've sweated blood to create a great opening, to get the synopsis down to a page. I'm the acquisitions editor who received this carefully constructed letter.

To be honest, before I read your synopsis, I googled your name. Where is your website? I didn't see a blog. You're on Facebook—I'm not impressed. There was no activity indicating that you read and comment with the writing community. I'm not just evaluating your manuscript, I'm evaluating you. Are your ideas for success realistic? Are you dreaming of a NY Times bestseller listing? Do you hear Hollywood knocking on your door? 

I feel marketing and platform building starts the minute a writer decides to write a book. Yes, that early. Anyone aspiring to a career in publishing in the 21st century cannot be blind to all the posts and forums talking about branding. So, where is your voice?  

When I write and ask you about this void in your social marketing, you ask, “What am I suppose to market? You haven't published my book yet!” You market what you've got—your name. Name recognition is the first step toward building a platform. You make contacts, commenting on the blogs of others so people can see YOUR NAME. You add a bit about yourself so people can get to know the person behind the name. You blog at websites that give you your own page, like Book Town and Book Blogs. You “friend” others on the site, people who are readers, writers like you, industry people like me. You network and build connections.

I can understand when you tell me you don't know anything about marketing—that can be corrected. It's a learning process. But I tune you out when you tell me it's somebody else's job to market your book. You are the author, the artist, not a person who soils their hands with promotion.

Prima donnas need not apply. In this day of tough competition and stretched budgets, nobody gets to sit on the sidelines and wait for royalty checks. We all get out there and hustle. I would rather contract a good book with a strong marketer than a great book from an author who won't lift a finger to promote.

Don't undercut yourself by adding in your query, “I have macular degeneration, can't drive anymore, get around with a walker, have a phobia about flying and I'm computer illiterate. My dream is to have a book published before I die.” Why anyone would give full disclosure so early in the game is beyond me. What can I do except send a rejection?

And finally, please don't try to sway me with a list of university accomplishments, lofty credits and literary aspirations. You read the guidelines on our website, right? We're looking for genre fiction. You know, the stuff average people want to read: a good mystery with a dead body on the second page; a romance where the boy always gets the girl; a Western where the good guys wear white hats and ultimately win the gunfight. Not highbrow, but immensely entertaining. Something we can sell.

So, all I can do is write, “Thank you for your query letter, but I'm sorry we cannot publish your book at this time.”

Sunny is giving away a copy of Fools Rush In to one lucky reader chosen at random from the comments. Good luck!

Sunny Frazier is a Navy veteran and former newspaper reporter who has worked with an undercover narcotics team in Fresno County. After 17 years in law enforcement, she turned her energies to writing the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries. Based in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the novels are inspired by real cases and 40 years of casting horoscopes. Frazier is also acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press

27 comments:

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome to Novel Spaces, Sunny!

Terrific post. Thank you for those insights into the rejection bogey.

Ellis Vidler said...

Sunny, great post! I tweeted it. I've seen so many good manuscripts rejected and had the authors wonder why. I hope they read this.
Thanks!

Kathleen Kaska said...

Good advice, Sunny. A writer's day requires a balance between writing and marketing. Oh, and, sharing, too. Thanks for the reminder.

Word Crafter said...

Thanks for your sound advice. I have never read any post quite as revealing and eye opening. Thank you.
Billie A Williams

Jan Christensen said...

Great advice, Sunny, and nicely succinct. On-line marketing is a lot of work, but I don't know of any other way in today's world that we can get our work noticed. Good luck finding writers who are both great writers and understand this.

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely a tough world.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Great advice. It seems I spend more time promoting than I do writing, but I know it's necessary.

I'm saving your post as a reminder. Thanks.

Beverly

G. B. Miller said...

Fantastic advice, although now it makes me wonder if all agents/acquistion editors take as much time as you do in trying to find out a little something about a potential acquisition.

William Doonan said...

What a nice surprise seeing Sunny Frazier here on Novel Spaces! Sunny is the editor who acquired my archaeological mystery "American Caliphate" for Oak Tree Press. Not only that, she's an expert at book publicity. I've learned so much from her over the last several months. AND, she also writes mysteries. "Fools Rush In' is a lot of fun!

Jewel Amethyst said...

Great Post! Finally some insight into the reason for the rejection letter. I know there are many other reasons, but this was a subtle one that many authors do not consider.

Thanks Sunny.

Shalanna said...

I don't know how Sunny does it, because I've seen slush piles (incoming manuscripts) and they are QUITE daunting. Now that everyone has a computer and is told in school that if they can write, they can write professionally (or so it seems), queries are often off-the-wall. Writers need to develop platforms and participate in social networking. Even then, it's tough not to come across like a turnoff (the hard sell, the carny, the non-Bob barker, the Amway distributor who is out of control). Your life is about to change: you have to become a salesman/marketer as well as a writer.

Good post!

dianemdickson said...

I've got my blog and it links to FB and twitter, I haunt the writers sites, I comment, review, read and take part. So that's that bit taken care of now all I have to do is get someone to read my books !!! Thanks so much for this post it was humorous and informative.

Sunny Frazier said...

Crazy as it sounds, I often get THANKED for my rejection letters! Thanks for all the comments.

Patricia Gligor said...

Sunny always tells it like it is. I've learned so much from her about marketing and promotion and I'll always be grateful.

Juan Gonzalez, Jr. said...

Once again, you continue to give phenomenal insight on what it takes to be a writer. Something to add as I am developing my platform. Thanks for another great piece of information.

Chris L Swinney said...

Sunny,

Well put!! As a new writer I love reading these types of posts to help me get focused on becoming a
Successful author. Thanks!

C.L.Swinney

Sunny Frazier said...

Diane,
I found your blog but never found a way to contact you. To sell your books, you have to be able to interact with potential fans. If I had trouble googling you (and I'm pretty good at this sort of thing) then others will quickly give up.

Lorna Collins - said...

AMEN! As writers we need to either treat our writing as a business or quit whining when we don't get the results we want. You need a website, blog, Facebook profile and author page, Amazon author page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter presence, Pintrest activity, Goodreads page, and more. Yes it is a LOT of work, But you are either an author or it's a hobby.

Chris Stovell said...

Thank you, Sunny. My publishing journey is an example of how putting yourself 'out there' works! My dad told me that I wouldn't get published because I 'didn't know the right people'. Well, I didn't have any contacts in the business or anyone to 'fast track' me, but I kept on writing and I started a blog. When I submitted my novel, my publishers found my blog, liked what they saw and offered me a contract. If I'd taken the view that 'that there's no point, because no one's reading this stuff anyway', I might still be waiting. My one regret is that, unfortunately, my break came too late to tell my dad he got it wrong!

C.K.Crigger said...

Sunny is really, really good at giving authors a poke. Gotta form a plan, get at that marketing and work at name recognition.

Liane Spicer said...

C.K., I've done the social media thing but it's always been grudgingly, as if it's taking away time I should spend writing. Sunny's post really brought home to me that the two now have to go in hand. I sense an attitude change coming on...

Liane Spicer said...

Um, the two now have to go hand in hand.

John Brantingham said...

It's good to get the straight story, Sunny. This kind of directness is rare and very important to hear.

jenny milchman said...

Excellent perspective as always, Sunny. They key for those writers who don't like to "market" is...not to. Instead, do as you describe. Get out there. Have interesting conversations. Make friends. Some of them may even like your book.

Liane Spicer said...

Congratulations, Ellis Vidler! You're the lucky winner of a copy of Sunny Frazier's Fools Rush In. Please e-mail me at lianespicer [at] gmail and I'll forward your contact info to Sunny.

Thank you for visiting!

Melissa said...

That is why authors need to have a website before they publish their book. I have also done the same thing. If I bought the first book then I become intrest in them and want to know more about them. I also do author spotlight on my blog and if they do not have a site I do not spotlight them.
great information.

Kat Hinkson said...

I met Sunny a couple years back and have been following her advice and building a presence on the internet. The other positive is that I’ve made many friends and have learned from them as well. The community is wonderful and supportive.