WHAT I LEARNED THIS WEEK: We’re publishing too many books

 

Perhaps I should qualify that statement before a vast moan arises from the ranks of aspiring Del Rey authors. To be precise, it’s not that we’re publishing too many books; if pressed to delete some from the 2009 list I’d have a very hard time complying. But I’ve just spent all week writing what seemed like eight hundred and ninety-seven TIs for the fall ’09 titles and am utterly exhausted.
What’s a TI? It stands for Title Information sheet, and it is the most important document an editor will ever create for his or her book–yea, even more important than the contract request or the editorial revision letter.
Its primary users are the sales force. The TIs provide our reps core information on each title in one succinct document, which they will refer to again and again as they make sales calls on booksellers and other accounts. Under the heading Keynote, for example, we give them a one-line description of the book. Under Positioning Statement we tell them how the book fits into the Del Rey list and try to give a sense of its relative importance within the season. And under Key Selling Points we give them reasons that they can pass along to their customers as to why this book will sell.
Aspiring authors can catch an editor’s eye by thinking in these terms.
[more after the jump]


Include possible selling points in your cover letter and it can help an editor decide to buy your manuscript. (Assuming the writing is good, of course; even the most excellent cover letter never sold a weak story!) Here are some selling points I’ve used to promote first novels:

  • Numerous short fiction sales: [Author] has published stories in Asimov’s, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, and other genre magazines.
  • Professional connections: [Author] is a board member of the American Association of Wild Turkey Breeders and can promote to its membership of 10,000.
  • Visible online presence: [Author]’s website attracts 30,000 unique visitors monthly due to its controversial content.
  • Advance quotes: [If at all possible, obtain advance comments on your manuscript from other authors, preferably someone well known.]
  • Publicity platform: [Author] is a frequent radio guest, invited to speak on the topics of space development and nanotechnology.

Obviously it would be tough for anyone to list all of the above, but even one or two will boost your cause. And make my TI writing so much easier. Hope to see you in a future season!

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