Monday, July 25, 2011

7 Qualities Publishers Look for in an Author

We all know publishers are looking for great stories that have been well written, but did you know they are also looking for certain qualities in the authors as well? Below I’ve listed those much sort after qualities.

Publishers are looking for authors who are:
1. Career authors. Those who are in it for the long haul. They don’t want one-hit-wonders. They want to be able to follow up a successful book with another. So, in answer to Madeline’s question: Does not wanting to write a series hurt my chances of becoming just an ounce as popular as JK? The follow-up doesn’t have to be a part of a series, as long as we have more than one story to offer.

2. Hard working. They want authors who will meet deadlines. Authors they can rely on. And authors who won't settle for mediocre work.

3. Flexible. They want authors who will accept advice. I know of a few publishers who will shy away from authors who have an unmoveable vision for their book including how the cover should look. Publishers are there to help us become successful and they have a whole lot more experience than we do.

4. Easy to market. They want authors who want to help promote their book and who have a bit of marketing savvy. For example, an author who has already worked on their platform and has social networking set up.

5. Professional. Someone who is easy to work with, who won’t burn anyone else and embarrass the publishing house.

6. Passionate. An author’s passion for their stories will shine through. It’s not an easy career so we need that passion to keep us going and to sell our stories.

7. Knowledgeable in their craft. They want authors who don’t need to be taught the basics of writing. Publishers are not there to teach us these things.

What else do you think publishers are looking for? Are there any qualities you feel you are stronger in than others?

47 comments:

  1. Flexible? Heck, I was Gumby! Play-doh! (I drew the line at Silly Putty though.)
    The career thing caught me by surprise. I never planned more than one book, let alone a trilogy.

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  2. Alex, hahaha, yep, that's flexible. The career thing is something I've heard a LOT from agents and publishers at conferences, festivals and workshops.

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  3. Excellent post, Lynda. Will pass your post link along to my writer friends who are working on books.
    Pam at www.2encourage.blogspot.com

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  4. This is a good list that pretty well covers it! Offhand I can't think of anything to add. I think of all of these, I'm probably strongest with #2, being hard-working. But I certainly work at all the rest of these! Good points to have as writerly goals.

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  5. That is exactly the case! What a great article. Writers need to know this.

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  6. Sounds like a dream author indeed. I suppose I could do better in some areas, but the writing side is definitely what most of us writers would enjoy most.

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  7. I think you've summed it up very nicely, Lynda.

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  8. great post... so I think I'm ticking all the boxes.. .now I'm ready for a publisher ;)

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  9. Excellent post, Lynda! These are great pointers. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. All awesome points! And thanks for answering my question. I guess as long as we're producing ideas, they're happy. ;)

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  11. Okay, I think I'm up to 5 out of 7. Getting there :)

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  12. I think you've done a thorough job of covering it, Lynda. With my first published work, my editor told a newspaper reporter how easy and flexible I was to work with, so how lucky is that, that I got it in writing? The social media thing really threw me when I heard a couple editors stress the importance at a conference. Good thing I actually like blogging.

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  13. I don't know if there's anything to add to such an excellent list--unless it's to remember to always love what you're doing while also being passionate.

    I'm delighted to be a new follower, Lynda!

    Michelle

    P.S. I've left a response to your comment on Alexia's blog, http://alexiachamberlynn.blogspot.com/2011/07/using-amazon-to-optimize-book-sales.html.

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  14. Great advice. I imagine that flexability is the most difficult quality to have (since we don't want nobody telling us how our stories should be, hehe).

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  15. Pam, thanks

    Carol, absolutely. You proved how hard working you were with your fast turn around of revisions.

    Michelle, good luck

    Madeline, exactly

    LynNerd, that's brilliant about getting good feedback about how easy you are to work with. Sometimes we just have to hope we are.

    Michelle, oh yes, we really do need to love what we are doing. Thanks too for the response. Totally agree.

    Jamie, hehe. I went from being not flexible enough to way too flexible. I think I've found the middle ground... hopefully ;)

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  16. I think this list covers what publishers want/expect of their authors - yay! esp the easy to market one and I'd add "...for the most financial returns", the publisher is making an investment in the author afterall. :-) Take care x

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  17. This is a really excellent list. It also shows how dedicated you have to be to really meet this expectations--like meeting deadlines while still dedicating the time it takes to market yourself successfully.

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  18. These are wonderful, Lynda. Passion paired with professionalism, to me, is vital. We've talked many times in our local RWA chapter meetings on how important it is to maintain a professional, well-liked online presence. To not bash or flame or get caught up in something which could potentially cause a publisher to say, "Uh... I think we'll pass."

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  19. ah, in the publishing world in my country I'm known as someone who always finishes works weeks before a deadline :)
    But I know I would be totally inflexible when it comes to my own book. But I don't think a publisher would want to change anything in it :)

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  20. Flexible, yes. An author should always be open to suggestions and honestly consider them since the publisher wants the author to succeed. But I don't think an author should be so eager to please that they become so flexible that they're clay, letting the publisher mold their work into something it's not.

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  21. I recently attended a picture book retreat and I asked, if we should have more than one manuscript ready to query. From the instructor to other participants (who had spoken with agents), all indicated yes. Because no one wants a one book author.

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  22. I think your seven qualities post adequately sums up what is important to publishers.
    We can use this as an important checklist when we are in the home stretch of a project.
    When an idea comes along,
    you must w.i.p. it.
    Reminds me of Devo, which I suppose has nothing pertinant to do with anything here. Except that I always felt the lyrics were inspiring.

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  23. These are wonderful rules to live by. That said and done, you've described me perfectly. :D

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  24. Great post. I find that all aspects of the points you made are true, but the "easily marketable" one seems to dominate the rest. Even good, hard working writers still seem to play second fiddle to other writers who pander to the popular vampire crazy because they're guaranteed to make some profit at the bookstore. I'm biased of course, but I think you get my drift:)

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  25. This is very helpful information that you posted and I am greatly appreciative. I am holding on to if for future reference. :)

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  26. A good story. If it's part of a story you've already mapped out, that's a bonus, too. But no point in writing the others until you sell the first.

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  27. Old Kitty, absolutely. Publishing is a business that needs to make money like any other.

    Sarah, yes, it actually gets harder once we sign that contract because so much more is expected from us.

    Alyssia, yep, you've got it absolutely right.

    Dezzy, a true professional. You must be highly sort after for your translations. Maybe one day you'll get to translate my book (I'll have to make sure I throw in some things that make it difficult for you muwhahaha)

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  28. Lori, exactly. What we need to do is learn which battles are worth fighting for... and get really good at justifying our reasons ;)

    Stacy, yep, exactly. That's why I'm currently working on the outline for book 2 (in case they want me to go ahead with the series).

    Anthony, haha gotta love the flowerpot men ;)

    Laila, hehe good to be able to say that with confidence :)

    Mark, yeah I'm thinking the vamp craze is very much over... of course, I thought that last year and I'm still seeing new vamp books on the shelves.

    M Pax, I agree if you are talking a series. No point writing book 2 until you've sold book 1. By all means write an outline though.

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  29. Great post… one would be: being comfortably with technology and how to spread the word via the internet.

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  30. I agree with this list.

    And if any agent is reading my comment, Yeah, this list completely describes me. (Call me.)

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  31. I've got it! I've got them all!!! Come on publishers... :D LOL! j/k. This is a great list. Good stuff, Lynda~ :o) <3

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  32. Thanks for sharing; this is great stuff!

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  33. lol @ Theresa and LTM. The publishers are also looking for confidence so you can add that to the list too ;)

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  34. So,is it easy to find authors with the 7 qualities or not?

    Hermes bags

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  35. It was great you sharing these qualities and the comments are fun and some very witty!

    Thanks for compiling this list!

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  36. I know of a few new writers who have recently been told to get themselves an internet presence but I hadn't thought about those other requirements. Thanks for that.

    http://rosalindadam.blogspot.com

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  37. Flexibility is key to a good working relationship, and also being to take constructive criticism for what it is - advice to make your novel better.

    Great post!

    Ellie Garratt

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  38. Fellow writer popping in to say hi! I have so many stories to tell...I'm just waiting to find an agent!

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  39. when your book comes out I will do everything in my power to make you a world writer by convincing one of my publishers to buy your book :)
    I did that for some other writers, and I will try to do it for Samantha Sotto's BEFORE EVER AFTER too.
    There were some of our fellow bloggers whose books I didn't want to buy for translation because I knew they wouldn't appreciate it, but there's nothing better than translating a book of a beloved friend.

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  40. Wonderful! Fantastic!
    Good to know!
    Thanks, Lynda!

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  41. Excellent points! I don't think I could add anything.

    :-D

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  42. I completely agree, Lynda. There is nothing more I will add. :)

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  43. All excellent points. I retweeted.

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  44. Gabrielle, probably not as easy as you'd think.

    Rosalind, yep, the internet presense is becoming more and more important.

    Ellie, yes, exactly! :)

    Blonde Duck, welcome! and good luck :)

    Dezzy-baby-hun, you are truly amazing. That is a massive and wonderful thing to do. I'd be truly honoured if you translated my work. Wow.

    Susanne, thanks for the retweet :)

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  45. I think you're absolutely right in your list. If an author doesn't meet these criteria (and doesn't want to), then perhaps self-publishing is a better route.

    It's wonderful that we have multiple avenues to consider!

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