The New Slush Pile And What Trade Publishers Are Now Looking For

The New Slush Pile And What Trade Publishers Are Now Looking For

Right now thousands of manuscripts sit as a slush pile in the corner of a dusty publisher’s office because they simply aren’t publishing manuscripts from unknown authors, instead they bank on those long time tried and proven authors that are without risk. The current economic climate has magnified this.

But that’s ok…

Because the slush pile has changed.

Successful independent authors and publishers such as Nathan Lowell and Scott Sigler were picked up by trade publishers after building their audience of fans, by giving away a serialized podcast of their books.

Indie romance novelist Sylvain Reynard has inked a substantial seven-figure deal with Penguin Group’s Berkley imprint for her paranormal romance Gabriel’s Inferno (which started as Twilight fan-fiction).

Amanda Hocking signed a six-figure deal last year with St. Martin’s Press after selling hundreds of thousands of eBooks.

The list goes on. All these authors were approached by publishers, not the other way around. They didn’t stand by and wait until someone noticed them (if ever). They took the bull by the horns and independently published. They haven’t looked back. These authors found an audience, built an author platform and garnered substantial book sales. Ultimately, this is what every publisher is looking for.

The new slush pile

The marketplace is the new slush pile. It’s acting as a filter for trade publishers looking for “sure things” to add to their bottom line and keep their doors open. The trade publishers don’t have to worry about taking a huge gamble when looking to the marketplace for books that are tried and proven to find an audience. They look for books with a buying audience and an author with a platform.

Those authors with established platforms and book sales are the ones being snapped up by trade publishers.

The publishers are going to them!

The consumer economy is changing rapidly

Today the consumer buying climate is changing more rapidly than ever. Brick and mortar business are closing in every industry, from car manufacturers, electrical appliance stores and fashion.

Meanwhile online businesses and start-ups are flourishing. Consumers are moving online to purchase more goods and services than any other time in history and many leading industry experts from Sky News to CNN are providing commentary on this transition.

Individual personalities and personal brands will increasingly come to the forefront, where consumers and fans will engage and purchase more directly from those brands and personalities they trust. I feel this transition will allow authors to gain more opportunities than ever before.

What does this mean for independent authors and publishers?

For those select authors looking to be traditionally published, it means they’ll need to first be where the consumers are going and that includes those buying books online. I know I buy all my print books and eBooks online, along with my friends and colleagues. As the move online strengthens, you’ll want to make sure your books and growing author brand are where the eyes and money are.

Build your author platform and sell some books. I know writers aren’t naturally skilled in self promotion, but last time I checked gas companies don’t except good intentions for bill payments and every writer and author wants to make a few dollars from their writing. Take action and you’ll be better positioned to appeal to a trade publisher and you’ll make some cash along the way.

After all, having someone shell out their hard earned cash for YOUR writing is the greatest validation of all.

They don’t care, you have to give them a reason

Caution: before reading further, I want to advise that the following may seem forward, a little confronting, even a little harsh for those authors not willing to invest sweat equity.

If you haven’t already, you must start building your author platform with your author website and hub. Stop paying for reviews, stop chasing quick fixes, and stop looking for non-existent shiny magic buttons that will turn your book into an overnight success.

No one cares about some random author who has warm and fuzzies from publishing their book. As an author you have to give them a reason to care, by writing and publishing quality books and providing them with great value from your website and platform.

Let others waste their time by spamming Facebook profiles and pages with ‘LIKE my book’ or ‘click LIKE on my Amazon listing’. What’s been found to move the needle in Amazon, is sales and reviews, period.

The best way to get people to ‘like’ or ‘buy in’ on your brand and books is with your platform. Start building your tribe of a 1000 true fans, those who know, like and trust you and get value from you. Provide content that’s valuable to ‘others’ (it’s not all about you and your dog!), begin building a list and using Facebook to grow your list, awareness and connect one-on-one with fans.

This is how you make your audience care. This is how you get readers and fans.

The choice is yours

When you’re at the point of making sales, you’re growing your list and your credibility is elevated by your growing author brand, you’ll then have a powerful asset which brings new choices and opportunities.

1. Package yourself into an attractive submission for a trade publisher, with proven sales and a platform with reach and credibility.
2. Build and grow your brand to the next level yourself, keeping control and profit.

Think about it. It’s up to you to build your author platform. It takes some effort and those who do will be the cream that rises to the top. Once you have an established platform, in a world that’s moving online where individual brands and personalities come to the forefront, I ask you this …

Why would you want to hand the keys over to a 3rd party publisher, when the work is done?

An exciting time to be an author!

Be the captain of your own ship.

4 Responses to The New Slush Pile And What Trade Publishers Are Now Looking For

  1. Hi Anthony, Your advice is good.

    After telling authors not to beg for likes: “Let others waste their time by spamming Facebook profiles and pages with ‘LIKE my book’ or ‘click LIKE on my Amazon listing’.” I had to laugh though at the last line of the post: “Don’t forget to hit the Tweet or Like buttons.”

    • Indeed Sophie! But alas, no ‘Buy my Book’ or ‘Amazon Listing‘ spam here. I had a couple of spammers this week at BookCoverCafe. “Oh please like my stuff” or “Can you do this for me?“. I have no idea who they are. It’s as Gary V says, ‘It’s like asking someone out on a date before they even know your name, what you do, or even say hi.’ It just doesn’t work. They wonder why they can’t get any traction.

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