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How To Build A Valuable Database Of Contacts
Hopefully, by now you have composed a great logline for your book and created a professional query letter pitching your book, built a database of agents, managers, and producers, and started to send your query letter to those contacts. Hopefully, you've also started to get some requests for your manuscript.
After you submit your query letter, you're going to find in most cases nothing happens. Literally nothing. The vast majority of the companies will not reply one way or another.
You may also find some publishers or agencies will reply that they did receive your query letter, but that no one at the company read it as their submission guidelines are that they do not accept unsolicited material for legal reasons or because of company policies. This may be company policy or it might be a polite way of passing on your material. I've found that I can sometimes get material submitted without an agent, manager, or referral from a production company to these sorts of companies if I hit the right person with the right pitch at the right time. I had a friend get his query letter to an agent at Creative Artists Agency once, so anything is possible.
This rejection is normal. It's part of the process. Don't worry about it and do not be deterred; just keep sending your query letter out. If you have a well-written query letter and you submit it enough times, you will find that every once in a while someone will request to read a few chapters or the entire manuscript.Your main objective is for your book to be picked up by a publisher, but that should not be your only aim. You should also be working to build relationships with industry professionals.
In some cases, the companies will get back to you with a polite "No thanks." I always reply to these emails thanking them for reading my material, thanking them for their reply, and then asking them what sort of material they are looking for. In most cases, they'll tell you what they're looking for. This is valuable information as you try to decide what subject matter or genre you can write next. Or you might have something else already written that you can immediately pitch to them. But, even more importantly, you now have a real contact that you can submit to in the future.
When I've written a new novel, I usually like to send it out to all the people that I have some sort of relationship with first. These polite, professional back and forth emails will start to build those sorts of relationships. Keep all these back and forth emails in a separate folder in your email account and then, when you're finished with another book, go through them and see which ones you want to submit to. This query letter will be more personalised, you can reference your other novels, and hopefully, they will remember you. When a person or company has been very positive about my writing or they are someone who I have actually met at a networking event or talked with on the phone, I will contact them first.
You will have own method of doing this, but you should most definitely try to keep these responses organised and use them in the future as you complete new projects. Getting these sorts of contacts to read your new material is much easier than sending out cold query letters constantly.
One of the other possible outcomes from these submissions is that a publisher may hire you to write an idea that they have. If they like your writing but your book isn't quite right for them, it's possible they will have another project that they might hire you to write or rewrite. It might not be something that happens immediately, but if you stay in contact with people who have been positive about your writing these sorts of things can happen. Again, it's all about building relationships.
Once you receive a few manuscript requests, I recommend following up with them in about 6 weeks via email. Always be polite and professional. The sad reality is that in most cases you won't hear anything back.One myth I would like to dispel is that you need an agent to sell your book. You don't. While I have had agents and managers during some of my sales and options, every single option and sale I've had has been a direct result of my own marketing. The agents and managers I've had only served to help negotiate the deals which, while helpful, wasn't a mandatory part of the equation. Publishers are looking for good material, and ultimately they're not going to care if you have representation or not if they like your book.
If you want to try to find an agent or manager, fine, but don't think that once you have an agent or manager it's all going to be smooth sailing and you're going to be working full time as a novelist. This is another myth because the chances are that will not be the case. You are still going to have to get out there and market your material, even if you are lucky enough to find an agent or manager to represent you.
Polish your logline and query letter, continue to build your database of industry contacts and keep sending out query letters. Rinse and repeat. And don't forget to keep writing new material and improving your craft. Good things can happen if you take action. Nothing can happen if you don't.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Lesley Jones