Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Books & Such Central Valley Office, CA
Yesterday we talked about the Book-At-A-Glance. Almost as important is the author info. Few publishers are interested in looking at a disembodied book. They are interested in the unique combination of author and content.
Today I’ll break this up because it’s really very different for novelist and nonfiction writer. The nonfiction writer has a much tougher job convincing the publisher (or agent) that he has a “platform.” With fiction, the skill of the storyteller is most important.
But before I get started, a word to the wise. All the author information is written third person– as if you are writing about someone else. In spite of this be careful not to “oversell” yourself. Nothing is quite as off-putting as an author who uses hyperbole to sell himself or seems egotistical, even in third-person. Sell yourself as the perfect person to write the book but do it professionally.
Remember, much of the bio info will be reused for one thing or another. It will take on a life of its own. Be interesting but not too cute.
- Offer a great bio. Make it interesting. If you write funny, let the bio reflect that. If you write history, give a nod to that in your bio. In other words, make sure your bio is a representative reflection of your book and your writing. Include any contest wins and awards. Go easy on the personal stuff.
- Photo. I always insert a headshot in the bio section, especially if the author meets an underserved demographic. The jury is out on this. I’ve heard some ABA editors mock this practice but I’ve has several editors or publishers tell me how much they liked putting a face with the name. I am ever aware that there is ageism at play here, so if I had an 88-yer-old debut novelist (like my own favorite, Helen Hooven Santmyer) I may not offer the photo lest the publisher think the author won’t be around long enough to build a significant career.
- Past (or selected) publication history: This is very important. You’ll want to end this section with a graph giving actual numbers sold. No, you can’t fudge. If you have no publication history, omit this part. Don’t try some fancy footwork. Also, don’t add any academic writing– apples and oranges.
- Blurb Possibilities: If writers have offered to blurb your novel, have a paragraph that lists those writers along with the title and publisher of their latest (or greatest) novel. Remember, the best endorsers are those with whom you may share an audience. If you are yet unpublished, don’t ask published authors for blurbs. They are overwhelmed with requests. Once you are contracted, it’s soon enough to ask.
- Author Marketing Ideas: Here’s another area that depends on your target. In CBA, an author marketing plan is required. In ABA, I’ve heard editors on panels snicker at author marketing plans, “We have a whole department of professionals to do that. Why would we want to see an author marketing plan?” Be sure to outline the scope and size of your social network. Most editors now see that as the primary sphere of influence for an author.
- Again, offer a great bio that stresses why you are the perfect person to write this book. Study other excellent bios if in doubt. Make sure to give your credentials if the book you are writing requires your track record.
- Photo: See above.
- Past Publication History: See above. Published articles on your subject are important as well.
- Influencers and endorsers: If you have the imprimatur of leaders in your field, that could well be a tipping point. Be careful not to overwhelm but a good solid list of recognizable names can be gold.
- Author Marketing ideas: Here’s where you have to pull out all the stops. If you speak, detail that, giving your upcoming schedule. Publishers like to quantify this– “I speak to groups, both inspirational and motivational, about 25 times a years, including two platform appearances each year and one stadium event. Altogether, I speak to over 100,000 people annually.” Talk about the size and scope of your social network. List some of those who will be willing to influence on your behalf. If you’ve been on national television and radio, outline those in detail.
The key for both novelists and nonfiction writers is to let the editor or agent know who you are and why you are the perfect person to write this book.