Tuesday, August 17, 2010
...and the survey says!: The Lodown on LoCash plus GIVEAWAY!
Hey Seekerville! Let's face it...polls are boring. LOL! So I'm gonna mix this one up a little.
I've been SWAMPED this summer. Lots of crazy family stuff going on. I've also been MIA doing tons of sound gigs with my audio-oriented hubby while I'm not under deadline. We've had a blast. He's the cute & funny rocker dude to my right in the pic above at a recent concert he did. That's what I love to do when I'm not writing. My girls have been twisting sound knobs since they were in diapers. Gigs are GREAT family time. We meet lots of interesting people and many become our lifelong friends.
The two sweet guys to my left are friends from an AWESOME up-and-coming band called LoCash Cowboys. They have a song called Here Comes Summer that I hope you will go to the country music sites and vote for. They are new on the music scene but have been trying to break in to the music industry for years, like many of us in the book industry. I predict VERY SOON they will be a household name. IF you ever get a chance to attend one of their concerts, GO! You will have THE time of your life. These guys are former professional choreographers-turned-country/rock artists. They are AMAZING in concert and WOW can they dance! You can Google "LoCash Cowboys Dance" and see just what I mean. Check out one of the videos I took at a recent concert and put on my Facebook author page here. Click the video link LoCash gig or like I said, Google 'em.
Ladies, have a heavy-duty fan ready because those guys can shake those booties and I'm not talking about knitted baby socks. LOL. Definite romance cover material right there. Yes, my husband knows I like to stand at the back of the stage just so I can see those cabooses wiggle. Trust me, if he were running sound for Dolly Parton he would certainly not be watching her eyes. LOL! We have a mutual understanding. This post won't shock him and in fact he teases me about drooling over the way these dudes dance. CHECK OUT THE VIDEOS ON YOU TUBE like this and this and this. Gospel song here and here is the best one. Love that last song. Love it. LOL. BUT wait until after this post to check all those out. LOLOLOL! Another beautiful ballad is You Got Me. You name it, they sing it.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I have learned over the last decade and a half of being on gigs with my husband while simultaneously pursuing writing that the two industries are VERY similar in many ways.
How Preston and Chris (LoCash vocalists and the crux of the band) came up with their name is they'd say, "Man, that's so low cash." Meaning something is so low cash, it's almost free. But hey, some of the best advice is free, right?
Anyway, "Low Cash" became a phrase between them and eventually stuck. The REALLY neat thing about these guys is that they have no set list when they play. They READ the audience each night and just have fun and gear their show to the audience at hand.
This reminds me SO much of the market research we do in our profession. Music and books are very similar industries. Musicians have a listening audience. Authors have readerships.
If you're not yet published, your readership is out there, trust me. You just have to find them or trust an editor or agent to help them find you.
How can you best do that? READ YOUR AUDIENCE? KNOW THEM? WRITE TO THEM? Trust that your future editor/s know their (soon to be your) audience. Read your readers as much as they read you. Know what it is that they love about you and your style of writing then never cease to deliver less than the best their money can buy.
This will hold true both before and after you're published.
Like Preston and Chris, each of you have an extreme amount of talent and I believe, like the LoCash guys, you have a special niche that you alone are meant to carve. NO ONE is doing musically what Chris and Preston are and that is why I fully believe they will be enormously successful. I believe they're right on the rim of it in fact.
This pertains to the pursuit of publication how? If you are reading this, you likely are meant to inspire and entertain people with your words. Or you are an avid reader drawn into the publishing process because of your love of books. You were drawn to this blog for a reason. You're going to be most happy when you're using the gifts you've been given. Whether that's writing books or reading books others have written and perhaps reading them to your grandchildren, children or to underprivileged kiddos at the library or a school, etc. I want you to be fulfilled in your endeavors, so I'm using this poll post to encourage those of you who are aspiring toward publication to do everything you can on your end to make success happen for you. To a great extent, success means getting your gift into the hands of the people who'll enjoy or otherwise benefit from it, right?
Your FIRST audience will be an acquisitions editor, agent or first reader hired by the publishing house.
For the past two years I've been conducting a series of publishing polls. ABA and CBA editors, agents and publishers have been SO gracious with answers. In the beginning of this poll, my goal was to provide helpful information to conference workshop participants actively pursuing publication. When industry professionals taking part in the polls expressed great interest in the results, I decided to expand my research another year. The outcomes have honestly astounded me in that on several questions, over half of those hundreds polled have given the same blind answers.
One example is when I asked them what their most common reason/s for rejection was.
OVER 70% GAVE THE SAME ANSWER for Number One. MOST of the other 30% gave similar answers that could actually be tied to that NUMBER ONE REASON FOR REJECTION.
None of those polled knew ahead of time what others answered. I'm sharing the results of that submission poll today in hopes that it will better your chances to have your submission make the best impression possible so that you can reach your readership. I sincerely want each of you to be successful and for your dreams to come true. You are going to be someones (or many someones') favorite author some day.
How does that sound?
Awesome beyond words, huh?
SO, how do you get there?
I know I'm stalling but I love the suspense. LOL! Want to know what THE most common reason for rejection was? I know because I've asked. :-)
Over 70 percent of the hundreds of ABA and CBA agents and editors polled cited this being their NUMBER ONE reason for an automatic rejection: "When it was clear the submitter either did not know or choose to follow submission guidelines."
I'm going to say that again in case you didn't catch it.
THE NUMBER ONE REASON FOR REJECTION IS WHEN THE AUTHOR DID NOT FOLLOW SOME ASPECT OF THE PUBLISHING HOUSE OR AGENCY'S SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.
OHMYGOSH! This is such an EASY fix! The very good news is that this mistake is 100% preventable.
What's the WORST thing you can do to detriment your dream right out of the gate?
Fail to know or follow submission guidelines.
If you think I'm trying to pound this into you...you're right! LOL. The poll speaks for itself. Don't jeopardize your chances by skimping on market research.
In the comment section, I'd LOVE to know how you research the market. If you can list a source that I haven't named above, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of seven LoCash Cowboys Here Comes Summer candles.
AND I will be giving away a copy of Sally Stuarts Market Guide OR a 2011 copy of Writers Market Guide to ONE lucky commenter. Winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition. SO stay tuned for that and be sure to view our contest rules and leave an e-mail address so I can reach you.
To be entered, list ways that you research the market, be that Web sites, books, industry blogs, etc. One example is Lyn Cote's blog. Did you know she does fabulous, comprehensive market research? I'm sure you know some sites or resources that others don't. Give us the URLs so it will truly be helpful information pooled in one place in case others aren't aware of how to research the market. It can be overwhelming to know where to begin.
One of my favorite ways is to attend conferences and sit in on agent/editor/publisher panels or ACFW publisher-hosted workshops. They will often talk extensively in those about what they're looking for and hand out copies of their most current submission guidelines.
If you are unable to make the conference, you can purchase the CDs online at ACFW.com Click the conference CD link.
To reiterate for those of you actively submitting: I encourage you...make SURE your ms follows submission guidelines. If you think it won't matter, my poll proves your thinking is in error. I didn't pull these answers out of my ear. These results came directly from THE industry professionals who have and will hold the death or life of your manuscript/s in their hands.
I'd hate for something so preventable to be the reason your work shows back up in your post office box or Inbox with a big fat devastating red R scratched across it.
Invest time and effort understanding the line and imprint you are targeting. That means reading books that publisher puts out. KNOW the guidelines and don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll overlook your ignorance or laziness. The poll results are proof they absolutely will not and there is almost ZERO tolerance for failure to follow submission guidelines. I urge you to obey them to a fine T! If you do not, prepare for rejection because not knowing or following submission guidelines is, according to those whose jobs are accepting or rejection submitted work, almost always a lethal mistake.
If you are going to entrust your ms to these people, know their house/agency and for goodness sakes, their submission guidelines. This is absolutely attainable. Absolutely crucial. Market research takes time but it will be time well-spent. It's professionalism and it WILL better your chances of breaking in, I promise.
Musicians, like authors, have to research the market. I'm sure at first music industry professionals didn't quite know where to 'shelve' Preston and Chris because they do a little bit of everything in their shows including old and new country, rock, pop, hip-hop, gospel and you name it. They've branded themselves country-rock but trust me, they stand out. There is NO ONE out there doing what they do on stage and there is NO ONE out there who writes like you. Finally, someone noticed the uniqueness that is LoCash. They are infectious!
And in an unforgettable moment, someone will notice you and your work too. They'll love the spark. The voice. The marvelous way you string words together. They'll cling to a flashlight and relish your story into the wee hours and put you on their auto-buy list then long like crazy for your next release. They'll bask in the images you paint with your words unlike anyone else in the world. Your readers are waiting.
I'd hate for you to spend years writing the book of your heart only to have it pushed back in your face at NASCAR speeds by an editor because you spent minuscule time getting to know the house you've attempted to entrust it to.
You don't have to be a statistic. Be the exception. Send in exceptional work that follows guidelines perfectly. It can be done. It should be done if you want to be taken seriously and looked at like the professional I know you all are.
You not only want to sell your manuscript, you want to sell yourself. Editors and agents NEED to know that you are someone they can work with and do so long term. Let the quality of your writing and manuscript make them sit up and take notice. Let your professionalism and Presentation make them sit up and reach for the phone to make that contract call.
So where do you get those elusive guidelines?
I'll give you a few hints: Publishers’ Web sites. Publishers’ forums. Message boards such as what Steeple Hill has. Authonomy. Sally Stuart’s Market Guide. Writers Market Guide. Romance Writers of America is a tremendous resource. Frequently check house and agency Web sites because things change constantly and editors move by the end of the year.
Just for giggles and grins, here are some other reasons for rejection cited in the poll:
Writing not up to par.
Poor grammar or other mechanical flaws.
Stepping outside the word count parameters.
Submitting genre we don't publish.
Author needs to grow a bit in craft or mechanics.
Synopsis incomplete or failure to tell us the ending.
Query letter that tells me I will love the story
Cover letter proclaiming I should buy this.
An argumentative tone upon correction or rejection.
Project not right for us.
Genre not selling.
Novice mistakes. ***
That's FAR from a complete list, but I wanted to show you a few just to see if you notice anything?
MANY of those "other" reasons cited can fall under the category of "submission guidelines."
***Regarding novice mistakes, I asked responders what exactly that constituted. I will share those answers in another post because there were numerous craft-related mistakes mentioned in detail by those who were able to respond to this question. For now I'll list a few which are: Too much telling. Passive voice. Backstory dumps. Too much introspection. Pacing or tone not right for genre.
Those are only a few! :-)
Those mistakes often flag an unpublished writer as a beginner which equates in an editor's mind to an author who is too much of a financial risk because they're still too inexperienced/not quite ready to work with an editor. I had a couple rejections because I submitted too soon, so don't feel bad if you have. It takes guts to submit. But use your brain as well as your courage and study those guidelines. LOL!
In Story by Robert McKee, (recommended to me by my Steeple Hill editor) he mentions how new authors sometimes are resistant to rules because they think it messes with their creative freedom. But editors view it as rebellion against guidelines. McKee states, "Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form."
To many in the country music industry, Chris and Preston were written off as breaking the rules. I mean, what kind of country singer plays rock and dances hip-hop style in cowboy boots and a Stetson then belts out a sweet, beautiful love-song ballad in a Harley shirt and skull and crossbones doo rag at a camo concert piano with fingers nimble enough to tickle Carnegie Hall?
But no, they are who they are and they studied the market and used their gifts and who they are as artists and individuals to carve out a niche. I'm telling you, they will be wildly popular. If you haven't heard of them now, hold on because you will. And if you ever see them in concert, you will be hooked because NO ONE puts on the kind of show they do. They have the most outstanding, energetic stage presence of any band out there. I've seen thousands. My husband is in this industry and he has told them from the beginning they have what it takes. He is a professional, he knows.
I want you to stand out to readers and industry professionals the way LoCash is standing out to those who've caught LoCash Fever. Fans and industry professionals who see a raging hole of a market for what they do. They filled a niche and you can too.
Mastering market research and keeping up with industry changes will greatly benefit you and get your work into the hands of readers who will rave over your words.
Interestingly, on a different question on the agent/editor poll, I asked responders what their number one pet peeve was. OVER 90% of them said, “When people do not follow our submission guidelines.”
Since SO MANY of them responded to both questions with the above answer, or a variation of the above answer, that leads me to believe that they must get a LOT of submissions that breach their guidelines.
This floors me. With the competition as fierce as it is, WHY would anyone want to intentionally lessen their chances of survival? LOL.
So, if you are tempted to skimp on researching guidelines for the house or agency you are targeting, I hope the above poll will deter you from that. We spend enormous amounts of time researching our novels. But the acquisitions editor of the house of our heart or the agent we'd love to be repped by will never know that if you don't set a good first impression.
Take careful time to research houses and agencies. Do your homework before shooting that story off the runway. Don't send out blind submissions, meaning cannon ball it or shot gun your work to every house without checking first to see what they're currently acquiring. Be sniperish about it. Study the market. Trends. Watch the house or houses you're targeting very carefully. Granted some people just send stuff out everywhere and hope to hit one but it's rare that they do. Market research can speed up the process for you. Who likes to wait longer than they have to? LOL.
Submission guidelines include things like knowing how they like the mss formatted (font and paper size, margins, etc.) Use industry standard when there's a question. If you don't know that that is, find out because it's one of the first things you need to know when you submit. Submission guidelines include word count parameters, genre listing and whether they accept agented submissions, e-mail submissions, hardcopies, etc. This is not a comprehensive list. But it gives you an idea if you're really new at this. If so, don't fret this. Just fling yourself into finishing that story. LOL. If you're close to submitting, pay attention though. LOL. All of these details might seem mundane, but you are better off to be a little obsessive about getting things right.
I think contests are a great way to practice submitting to houses. Some contests disqualify people for not following the guidelines. This upsets entrants but learning a hard lesson is better than learning an even harder lesson down the road. What I mean by that is that it's better to get a low score or a disqualification than a form rejection from your dream editor or agent.
Let's turn the comment section of this post into a market research venue. EVERY person who lists a source of market research not listed above will receive the chance to win one of 7 LoCASH Cowboys Here Comes Summer candles AND will be entered into the drawing for their choice between a 2011 edition of Sally Stuart's Writers' Market Guide if you're targeting CBA or The 2011 Writers' Market Guide if you're targeting ABA.
So, comment away~! And don't forget to go vote for our friends, the very talented LoCASH Cowboys. Help us help them get to the top of the country music charts with Here Comes Summer. You can do that here on the http://www.locashcowboys.com/ site. Click the CMT and GAC buttons and you'll see LoCash in the top 20!
LEAVE A COMMENT, letting me know how you keep up with industry changes. Be specific. Let this post be a tangible resource for those who are overwhelmed and don't know where to begin.
If you're a reader-only, leave a comment and I'll enter you into the candle drawing if you like. Just list the top three reasons you put an author on your auto-buy list. :-)
And for WHEN not IF that happens, I leave with you these LoCash Words in hopes you will take them to heart. This next video is the one most worth watching. Scroll down to the bottom right of their My Space page, to the video showing hands on a piano. Click that. The song Keep in Mind is near the middle of the moving video on this page. "I know those dreams you're tryin' to chase. You want 'em now but they won't wait. Last thing you're thinkin' about is slowing it down and the ones you left behind. I'm always thinking of you cause when somebody loves you that's what they do...all of the time, so keep in mind. Keep in mind...." "LoCash means remembering your roots. Remember where you came from. Stay true to who you are. Never forget the people who helped you. It's a way of life."--Preston Brust and Chris Lucas of LoCash Cowboys.
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post. Enjoy the rest of your summer! And PS...GO VOTE FOR MY FRIENDS' song on GAC and CMT!
Don't forget to leave your comments here for a chance to win a LoCash Candle or a Market Guide book.