Thanks from my former client, Jay, for this fantastic summary of a brilliant talk entitled: ‘How To Get A Badass Deal’.
Novelists, take note!
How to Get a Badass Deal
A great opening and a great hook are incredibly important if you want to sell to a traditional publisher.
Your book and you are the product, it’s a team exercise and you need the whole team on board
Money is available for big deals but you need:
- Quality: you will be rejected if your prose, characters and plot are not good enough for a traditional publisher
- Great hook
- Timeliness: The industry moves in themes that agents are looking for. They want a completely new novel that is also exactly the same, because that means there will be a ready audience. It needs to be similar enough to appeal to the fans of other books but different enough to justify its existence.
- Characters: Matter more than plot. If you can sell characters to the reader they will come back for more because they love those characters, even if they’re not crazy about the plot.
The bigger your advance is the more motivated the publisher will be to market your book because they need to make the money back.
But… Even if you are traditionally published you will still need to do your own marketing. Publishers expect authors to make promotional efforts on social media.
Get to know your local bookshop for launches.
Your first deal: there’s very little room to negotiate. It’s all done by your agent.
Don’t take a traditional deal unless they are offering a decent advance, not just royalties.
Once a book is an e-book it never goes out of print. Need to be careful of reversion clauses because you’ll never get the rights back if it never goes out of print.
You need say (or get your agent to say): How big is the market for this book? I believe this book will appeal to the same audience and this audience reads xxx. What is it that you have to bring to the table?
What is the story that your agent can use to sell?
Themes are important. What is it that you’re trying to explore with your book? Publishers know the themes will give them a perspective to sell to reviewers and producers for interviews. Because it’s something more than the book’s story to talk about.
If you’re trying to write a particular kind of book buy five books in that space that made their authors famous in that space, not the author’s first book unless it’s their first book that made them famous. Think what was it about that book that led to that fame? Analyse them carefully if you’re serious about wanting to get a career in traditional publishing.
It’s about hitting the right idea and hitting the desk of the right agent at the right time.
It can be a selling point if the book relates to your lived experience.
Building a career
Think about your first 6-7 years – what do you want your profile in the industry to be? What style do you want to be known for? What space do you want to be occupying in the genre that you want to be known for?
That’s what publishers want to know, how to get you to maturity in that space. They don’t want to market a fantasy author and then find out that your next book is crime. They don’t want to build your brand in a particular space to have you diverge from it. Focus on a single brand and get known for that first.
It’s very important to enter competitions including for short stories to achieve credits.
The Society of Authors now has a podcast – check it out!
That’s it. Wishing you lots of success getting your own badass deal!
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London Writers’ Meetup
I host the monthly London Writers’ Meetup. It happens on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, at 7.30pm UK time on Zoom. It’s a super friendly group, and a great opportunity to ask questions and share your struggles, set a goal, and make some writer friends. I do hope you can make it.
Need someone in your corner? I offer 1:1 coaching
My focus is helping ambitious writers who are struggling to sit down and write (or sit down and sell their writing) – maybe because of self-doubt, a block – or simply good old-fashioned procrastination.
Perhaps you’re great at writing on commission, but you never get around to writing your own original ideas. Or you might be someone who loves the writing side of things, but procrastinates when it comes to trying to get a badass deal! Either way, you’ll come away from my coaching calls feeling excited to have a goal and a writing routine, enjoying the process, and empowered to try out lots of new marketing ideas.
Kind words from a client
Thank you for all your help so far. The call was great and very motivating. I just finished writing chapter 4 this morning! Another 1,000 words written. It feels tremendous and I’m really happy where the story is going.Matt, first-time novelist