Hitting It Out Of The Park part deux

October 6, 2009 | Karin's Blog | 9 comments


I think I may have been a wee bit over the top in saying to sell a book in today’s market, it all boils down to writing an infuckingcredible book.  Many of you have made the comment that there are some pretty unfuckingincredible books out there.  And there are, in our opinion, but not in the acquiring editor’s opinion.  There are many factors that go into the purchase of a book.  Primarily it has to be a project that an editor loves.  And even if she loves it, there is the current market, the weight of the current list, money, timing and even if all of those factors are in this particular project’s favor, the wrench can come in the form of another project, that while they all might not love as much, the powers that be see it as a more viable commercial option. Boiled down the acquisition team asks: which one will make us more money?


Publishing, we must always remember, is a business first.  Publishers can’t stay in business if they aren’t making money. It’s not a perfect science. Here’s another scenario:  All parties agree it’s a great project but then marketing raises their hand and says, “You’re right, this is great, but we have an abundance of debut paranormal authors, what sets this one apart from the others?”  It’s hard to be seen and heard when the competition is as good as you, or maybe not quite as good, but they got there first.  What’s an author to do?  Write something else.


When publishers are dissolving imprints and cutting back on releases per month, you must have a fabulous project and the stars must be aligned.  That’s the timing part.  There is also the luck part, but the luck part only works if the project is stand up and the timing is right.


I sold my first book because of timing (Kensington was launching a new erotic romance line. As a side note, the story I sold had been rejected by Kensington as being ‘too raunchy’ for Brava several months prior, but my editor remembered it), and not to take away from my story, it was smartly written and sexy.  I landed my agent because of timing and luck, but more than that, she loved my voice.  There has to be a lovefest first, and that comes down to the product: our stories. 


But we must understand, what one editor would kill for, another will use as birdcage liner.  This business is all subjective. I know there are editors out there who will read my proposal and be shocked.  If I had to describe it in one word, it would be, raw.  This is not a series for the faint of heart.   Many editors have their pet peeves.  Some don’t like children in stories.  Some are sick of vamps and tramps.  Some don’t like uber sexy.  Does that mean your story sux eggs?  Nope, it just means that particular editor wasn’t that into it. So, we move on.  It’s all we can do. 


I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: To survive in these publishing waters, we all must be sharks. Always be on the move, going forward or sink and die.


So, yes, write the most infuckingcredible story you can.  That will get you in the door. Then?  Timing, luck, moon phases and fairy dust will do the rest.  J





  1. Edie

    I agree completely with you. I can think of bestselling writers who, IMO, write crap. But their books sell. But their success is nothing to do with me. I have to think about my own success, and to get it, I need to write that infuckingcredible story — and hope for the right star alignment.

  2. HollyD

    Timing, luck, and talent. Now I know what I need to wish for. Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing. If I don’t the family claims I tend to get Bitchy. I have no idea what the hell they’re talking about.

  3. Billi Jean


    This seems to be the theme! I’ve read more about getting it printed then ever lately. I like the moon phases…do you think chocolate helps too? Or cases of Tequila?


    billi jean

  4. Terry Odell

    Having read my share of “if this got published, why didn’t mine?” books recently, I recall what an agent said as we chatted over lunch at a conference. I’d told him my agent at the time had been submitting my manuscript, and none of my rejections gave the same reason. Relationship was great, not enough suspense. Fast paced, but the relationship was weak. Loved the X, didn’t like the X.

    He said that what he tells his clients is to look at what the editors DID like, and eventually, there would be that one who liked all the parts.

    I like the books I write, although they’re still outside the NY mass market box. I know they don’t suck, because they’ve finaled in contests alongside names like Allison Brennan, Brenda Novak, Roxanne St. Claire, and Cherry Adair.

    Thank goodness for small presses and e-publishers, who give those of us who write in the cracks a chance.

  5. J. Carson Black

    I know there are substandard books out there, although I manage to miss them.

    But I feel, as a whole, that writers are getting *better*, not worse. The competition is awesome. And this is where raising the bar comes in. Which everyone here (me included) is trying to do. Can’t go wrong by working harder, and just keeping at it. We all know stories of successful authors who have seven or eight unsold manuscripts at home–books to grow on.

  6. Sharon

    Thank you for these two posts because what you just described? It happened to me last month. Your posts came at just the right time for me. So instead of sinking I’ve decided to swim.

    Thanks again, Karin!!!

  7. LaDonna

    Great post, Karin, and oh so true! Love Terry’s comment too about small press and other avenues. For me, the subjective reality out there is exactly why I only write what I love. 🙂

  8. Liz Kreger

    Yep … everything is subjective. I’ve read by share of books that gave me the “huh?” reaction … one of which I cannot bring myself to finish even though it got rave reviews.

    Luck and timing is everything, IMO. Besides writing the best fuckinincredible book evah.

  9. Amie Stuart

    I can think of bestselling writers who, IMO, write crap. But their books sell.

    One thing to keep in mind is that when they “made it” publishing was a completely different world. By that, I think it’s definitely more difficult now and I agree w/Jake (? too lazy to scroll) on raising the bar.

    FWIW…I got a rejection a few months ago because the series proposal was too similar to a best selling author’s new series (and NONE of the other rejections have been for the same reason(s) if that makes sense).

    The hard part–the part I *really* don’t like–is getting so invested in a proposal/story and not being able to sell it. It’s not just the time but the heart you put into it (Sorry if that sounds like ‘sensitive writer’ talking but hopefully you know what I mean).

    I do think the upside to the economic downturn is that, as *scary* as it is, at least for me, it’s really made me think more long term. What do I want to be writing five and ten years down the road? What do I really want to be writing? And what’s more important? Selling more books regardless of genre (just to keep my name out there even) or working toward where I actually see myself down the road.

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