An important stream of panels at the 2010 WorldCon concentrated on the publishing issues facing authors and artists, including John Berlyne, Simon Spanton, Rowena Cory Daniels and Ginjer Buchanan speaking on how to approach agents and publishers.
The blogs of agents and publishers – plus the Twitter feeds from agents, authors, publishers and editors – are full of advice for new and established writers. Nonetheless the panel gathered together most of the important issues and techniques that now assist authors in their quest for publication.
Rowena is an author and also runs workshops on pitching. Her advice summarised many key requirements of how to approach getting a novel published:
- define the genre you’re working in
- create a brief “elevator pitch” and polish it til it shines
- develop a powerful synopsis
- determine the market strengths of your work
- undertake extensive research into agents and publishers
Simon is deputy publishing director at Orion and Gollancz and added some pointers:
- the novel must be finished
- never under-value the research into agents and publishers
- don’t rely solely on pitching
- use the web or workshops to get your name and work known
John from Zeno literary agency added:
- the quality of the writer is exhibited in the pitch although that may not accurately reflect the quality of the novel
- the quality of submission needs to be professional rather than clever
Ginger is editor in chief at Ace, alongside many other key responsibilities in the publishing empire she inhabits. The advice from the other panelists was underlined repeatedly by Ginjer with a number of humorous anecdotes from her experience.
Ginjer added that pitching to an editor is the same protocol as pitching to an agent, and please desist with bold, underlined, red, green and/or blue “emphasis” (or indeed any other “tricks”) in your pitch documents. While mildly amusing for a moment, such devices do not create a professional impression and may ruin the publication hopes of a well-written novel.