BWS 11.07.18 report: “Understanding Acquisitions: What Authors Should Consider When Pitching Their Book,” with Scott Fraser

Scott_fraser_bws

Scott Fraser has worked in publishing since 2010 and is the acquisitions editor at Lorimer. Prior to joining Lorimer, Scott worked as the acquisitions editor at Dundurn Press, as a freelance editor/consultant, and as a sales rep working with a number of publishers in North America and the UK.

Prior to entering the publishing industry, Scott served for eight years in the Canadian army, a career change which many find curious.

He lives in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood with his partner and their menagerie of misfit mammals. The keys to his heart are dogs and baseball. Talking about either topic is a sure fire way to get Scott’s attention.

At last week’s event, Scott gave us a few pointers on what we should consider when we’re ready to pitch our stories.

 

Reconnaissance

Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted. Read the publisher’s guidelines closely. How do they want material submitted? Are they accepting manuscripts in your genre/category?

Try to find out about the editor. What have they signed? What does the backlist look like? Recent publications?

Sales matter

Help the publisher imagine your book gaining some commercial success. Which successful authors is your work similar to? (Comp titles)

If you’re previously published, show us the numbers! (we’ll look anyway)

If your previous book didn’t sell well, don’t panic. Help us figure out how to fight the track record. Did publisher perform poorly? Maybe a timing issue?

Synopses

The editor has lots of submissions to consider. A concise, well written synopsis can help generate interest. I like one-pagers. Some editors like more. Be prepared to offer more or less on request.

Don’t send disconnected segments. (ie, Chapters 4, 7, and 12)

Nobody knows your book like you do, so sending fragments is likely to confuse people

Attitude

Signing an author is about calculated risk for the publisher. We want to believe in the project and the person.

Be assertive, but positive at all times. Nobody wants to spend 8-12 months working with a jerk.

Don’t take rejection personally. A “no” isn’t a rejection of you as a human being. And it doesn’t mean your work isn’t valuable.

Be gracious. If an editor says “no” but takes the time to give you feedback, it’s a sign that they liked your work but it’s possible their publisher said no or some other factor is in play. Take the long view. Maybe this editor will circle back around to you some day, so don’t burn bridges.

Shameless Self Promotion

If you know cool and influential people, please do name drop.

If you’re good on social media, let me know (I will look you up in any event)

If you’ve got a talented mentor whose work I may know, tell me!

 

Always remember that this is the start of a long-term professional relationship. First impressions matter. Even if the acquiring editor isn’t going to work on manuscript development with you, they’ll still be the strongest in-house supporter of your work.

Stay tuned for features on our upcoming writers! 

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