It's hard to beat insight from someone who's been there in the trenches, dealing with the same issues you face. That's why this short article in The Chicago Tribune caught my eye today. And as reporter Ann Meyer rightfully states, "creating a bestseller involves more than crafting good content."
She also notes that "attracting an agent or publisher's attention can be trying." But here's the kicker... The #1 reason why authors often get frustrated trying to connect with a publisher? I believe it's because they (the author) don't bother researching publishers to learn about their focus, series, etc. I've been pitched all sorts of ideas by authors for books that not only wouldn't fit my program, but wouldn't make sense anywhere else at Wiley either. It's clear these authors were just taking a shotgun approach and sending their idea to as many publishers as they can. I can't think of a better reason to quickly lose interest in a project.
Meyer nails it when she says "Entrepreneurs can increase their odds by researching which publishers are most likely to be interested in their book idea." Absolutely, and the same goes for agents. I'll bet agents get quite a few inquiries about projects that are way outside their areas of expertise; the author could have figured this out by simply visiting the agent's website in advance.
Finally, here are a couple of interesting stats that show the ratio of author proposals to actual publications:
"Agate receives about 800 proposals a year, yet publishes just 20 books annually, Seibold said. Sourcebooks receives more than 1,000 proposals each year, with more than half coming from agent-represented authors, and publishes several hundred."
If you're an author with a proposal in hand, what are you doing to stand out from all this noise generated by the rest of the crowd?