It matters when you’re trying to secure an agent.It matters when you’re trying to secure a publisher.It matters when you’re trying to win over readers.It matters and it can affect your publishing career.No, this doesn’t mean that you need to be silent about causes and opinions you believe in.It just means you need to be smart about it. Listen to the Gatecrashers episode here.
And so many enter that world and make mistake after mistake after mistake.
How do you avoid that? How do you do it well, right from the start?
The Gatecrashers have a few ideas.
So why does it feel like you’re giving up on your dream of being traditionally published?
It shouldn’t feel that way. There are certain situations in which self-publishing is your best option! Our latest podcast episode helps you identify when self-publishing might be the best fit for you.
Someone wrote to ask, “What is the author’s responsibility to the facts when writing a historical novel?” She noted she was writing about historical events, but wanted to know if she could change them. In a related note, someone else asked, “What is the ethical line between historical fiction and history?”
As I’ve said on previous occasions, I don’t think there is a line connecting fiction and history. Really. A novelist who is creating a story and weaving in actual people and events probably owes some debt to the reader to try and get the basic historical facts correct, I suppose (though even that is a questionable supposition, and many authors have altered facts and dates in order to tell a better story), but a novel isn’t a textbook. It doesn’t have a restriction that “you must have all your facts correct” or “you must accept the commonly held notions about a character’s motivations.” The author is inventing a story to entertain, or to explore themes and motivations, not to teach history.
So, while I wouldn’t create a story in which the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on July 11, I see nothing wrong with an author creating a story depicting an interesting twist — that Roosevelt knew about the attack ahead of time, or that the attack was a rogue group of Japanese military, or that it was all a mistake done by aliens who were looking for Hawaiian shirts and a great recipe for mai tai’s.
“It’s a novel.”
It’s a novel. You can choose to tie events closely to historical facts, or you can choose to recreate history as you see fit in order to entertain readers. Have a look at the Quentin Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds — in which the patrol sent to kill Nazis take out Adolph Hitler and the entire leadership of the Nazi party in a fire they set in a movie theater. (Um,
Even if you’re unpublished.
Even if you write fiction.
Even if you don’t think anyone will ever visit it.
You need a website, and we talk about why on the latest episode of The Gatecrashers Podcast.
Or you can get agents to like you, as a person.
If an agent likes you, then they’re that much more likely to give you more of their time, more of their input. They’re more likely to sign you.
We’re bringing back some of Chip’s blog posts for both your reading pleasure and to bring some insight for authors in a constantly evolving industry. Enjoy! Feel free to comment below.
Marketing Your First Novel
I received a fascinating email from a first-time novelist the other day. She said that her very first novel is releasing, it’s with a medium-sized house, and she said, “While I’m not exactly sure what the publisher may do to market my book, I’m wondering what advice you give to the authors you represent in order to help them market their first novel.”
First, I wrote back to her and said she should simply ASK HER PUBLISHER what exactly they’re doing to help market her book. It may not be much (publishing works on the Pareto Principle, where 80% of the resources flow to 20% of the books), but she should certainly know what they are doing. So get a little clarity by asking. Are they taking out an ad in a trade magazine? Purchasing a group ad? Buying placement in front of Barnes & Noble? Sending out review copies? Offering terms to Amazon? Whatever it is (and it may not be much), it would be nice to know, so that the author doesn’t duplicate the publisher’s efforts.
Second, I suggested she simply make a list of the things SHE CAN DO to help market her book. Can she put together a blog tour? Do a launch party with friends at a local bookstore? Set up an event on Facebook? Arrange to get into her local newspaper and onto local radio stations? Every author can do SOMETHING… so what is it you can do?
We had a nice chat about this via email, then she asked me another question: “Would you be willing to show me the sort of letter you send to a first-time novelist you represent?” I thought that was a brilliant question,
Or maybe you meet an agent at a conference, hit it off, start emailing back and forth. And then they go dark. You just can’t get them to respond, let alone make a decision on your project.
Why do agents go dark? Why do they ghost potential clients? Isn’t it in their best interest to respond? We tackle all these questions and more on this episode of The Gatecrashers Podcast.
Will has built his career with a focus on the writing craft instead of marketing strategies. It’s a breath of fresh air in an area of the industry that is so marketing-driven.
In the years following, Wes has grown a successful career, book by book, opportunity by opportunity. His most recent deal with Del Rey was listed in Publisher’s Marketplace as a “Major Deal,” which is the top tier of their deal categories.