Book Marketing Wisdom
While no few people want you to believe that perseverance and persistence are the keys to getting published (if that were true then why do so many people give up and resort to—in many cases in frustration and desperation—self publishing?) the truth and fact of the matter is that it really and truly is a matter of—in the Yiddish vernacular—mazel—luck.
The usual gambit is for would-be authors to “keep trying.” “After all,” we keep hearing, “a woman by the name of J. K. Rowling submitted the first Harry Potter tome to twelve publishers, only to be rejected each time, but, and eventually, Scholastic (I believe it was Scholastic) decided to “take a shot” and gamble on the book.” True or not, and while “the rest is history,” the reality of the matter is that, while persistence certainly played a part, Ms. Rowling had the mazel to have Scholastic (or whichever publisher it was) finally take a chance on her. But, dear readers, let me assure you that that Yiddishism played as big a role in her finally getting published as did her persistence.
Should you use an agent?
Often, people will ask me if they should use an agent, and my answer is always the same: do you know or have you been recommended to an agent who is absolutely trustworthy and who will charge you only after he or she has placed the book? While it is true that a good few publishers will not accept direct submission and will only work through an agent, many will be willing to look at your work, and you must, if you decide on using an agent, be certain that you have chosen one with a fine reputation for ethics and honesty. As in any other field there are no few “scam artists” out there.
The real question, then, is, “is what you are proposing to submit something unique and different, or is it just more of the same old, tired fodder for the shredder?” The answer usually is, “oh, no, this is really wonderful material!” OK. So be it, but if it is so wonderful, why are you having so much trouble getting published? Perhaps it is because you have either chosen the wrong niche or no niche at all, and that can be a major problem.
Almost incredibly, the publishers have actually approached me. “And why is that?” you ask, and the answer is “because I have created a unique niche for myself,” not by writing poetry or novels or anything except what I know how to, and love to write, South Florida local and Florida transportation history as well as the biographies of two individuals who I got to know very well, and whose stories I could present in a vibrant and exciting manner.
So, what do you do to make mazel for yourself?
Most importantly, you network. Join writer’s groups, attend seminars, join local chambers of commerce and market yourself, not just to potential publishers but to your community. Remember, it is not what you know, but who you know, and through constant attendance at local events, from chamber of commerce meetings and historic organization’s gatherings to writer’s groups conferences and seminars, I have managed to put together a fairly impressive resume of my work. And you can do the same, but remember that, along with your persistence, a little bit of—or, yes, sometimes a lot of—mazel—just might prove to be the key to your success. Don’t give up and get out there and get known. It will be that element which, to no small extent, might just be the key to your success!