I mentioned in my post last Monday that I happened to go to an Agent/Editor Day ten days ago, held by the local chapter of SCBWI.
I already shared with you my impressions from the topic discussed by Rachel Orr, the agent from Prospect Agency.
Now I present my impressions of what Margaret Miller, the other speaker for the day, had to share with all the writers gathered to hear her talk.
Margaret Miller is an editor for Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA, having moved there from Harper Collins Children’s Books in summer 2008. Authors she has worked with include Dan Gutman, Daniel Pinkwater, Philemon Sturges, Ann Rinaldi, and Kathy Lasky. At Bloomsbury, she will focus on middle grade and Young Adult fiction, with a few select picture books.
Margaret’s topic for the day was:
Working with an Editor: Your Bill of Rights – What to expect when you’re working with an editor when you, the writer, decides to submit your work directly to an editor at a publishing house without the aid of a literary agent.
Margaret basically explained the nuts and bolts of the relationship between an editor and an author at various stages of the book’s life:
- Before a writer submits his/her manuscript to an editor.
- When a writer gets an offer from an editor.
- During the editing process.
- After the editing process is finished.
She had this to say about what an editor means to an author:
- an advisor
- a champion
- a therapist
- a cheer leader
- the one person who will read your manuscript with the utmost attention
She encouraged writers to:
- keep their relationship with their editor professional (it means do not call her every single day, please!)
- choose an editor who will help them to fulfill their vision for their book and
- choose a literary agent to represent them, if possible.
One point that Margaret made in the course of her talk heartened me, because it is one aspect of the publishing industry today that keeps me awake at nights: book promotion by the author.
Let me explain.
Looks like in this technology-crazy world (sorry, I know that’s a strong statement, but isn’t it true though?), everybody’s attention is being pulled in several directions every second. So, most everyone is, whether willingly or unwillingly, trying to promote themselves and/or their products.
Authors and their books are no exception. Even if each publishing house has its own publicity and sales force, authors are expected to work hard at self-promotion and also at publicizing their books.
This includes school visits, making use of internet as a tool, book signing tours etc.
I hear everywhere these days how important it is to brand yourself, as an author, in order to promote your work. This means hosting your own web site in addition to blogging, face-booking, tweeting, and networking in all sorts of ways that you can think of.
That is all well and good, but the amount of time that an author has to put into publicizing his/her one book is time that the author spends on:
- not working at her craft
- not putting time into his next project
- not working at improving her style and content
- not networking with a very important group of people: his core critique group
- not taking some time to relax and rejuvenate herself, before she can tackle all those ideas hammering at her brain
Yes, these all worry me.
That’s why I loved what Margaret had to say before she went on to answer questions:
It is good to network, but not networking won’t necessarily make or break your book.