Friday, April 23, 2010

T is for Targeting the Right People

I was talking with another writer the other day and she told me she'd just finished sending out her last batch of queries and proposals to agents. Baffled, I asked her how many went in a 'batch' and she said the ones that made up the last seven letters of the alphabet in her guide. Surprised, I asked her if she'd done any "T" is for Targeting before doing all of that work. The resounding chorus of crickets gave me my answser.

Targeting is simply researching the market and finding out who represents your genre. It amazes me that many writers in my group do not do this. They take the shotgun approach to queries and this results in much more work. This is true for both seeking agent representation, and polishing your proposal for submission to publishers.

One of the best ways to find out if an agent even represents your type of book is to go on their website. An agency may have several agents representing many different types of books. Some agents take only non-fiction, or historical romance, and it makes no sense to query them.

Tip Sheets are a great way to take the pulse of the publishing houses out there. They list editorial needs, including information on the types of books they'd like to see, including word length for a certain genre. You can pick them up at conferences, online, or with a SASE to the publishing house.

Leigh Michaels has a wonderful collection of romance publisher websites for easy perusal. Whatever your task, securing representation or pitching a book, it pays to not waste time and money. Take some time to target the right people, the ones that are looking for a writer like you.  Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by cliff1066, Uploaded on December 25, 2008.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes, that seems like a lot of work for nothing to me!

Rae said...

I have no idea where to start in getting something published. My husband says I am just lazy. But in reality, I'm just lost. Any suggestions where to start?

Unknown said...

Oh gosh. Not only do I check an agent out on Querytracker, AbsoluteWrite or AgentQuery, I then google them to see if they've done any recent interviews to see what they are looking for. If they have a blog, that's even better! Not that it's helped me, mind you, but I think the only fun in querying is searching out agents.

Juan Velez said...

That is really good advice... I do that at times, but mostly in newspaper (sports pages). It is all about targeting the right people and getting their perspective of your work.

Ella said...

Wow, so much info; You could write a book on how to do this! You have so many great tips! I would buy it!
Just let me know ;-D

Great "T" post~

Karen Jones Gowen said...


New to your blog-- I like your use of target! Why waste time submitting to agents or editors who really aren't doing your genre?


Unknown said...

Research, Research, Research!!! I think it's key to know what genre you're in and what agents/publishers fit that! I think you made great points and targeting the right people is great!!!

Love this post!

Gregg Metcalf said...

I am not a writer, or least a writer looking at this point to be published, so much of what you wrote made sense but doesn't resonate with me. I write sermons, all my own sunday school & bible study lessons, handouts, and training manuals so I do write. I like writing my blog as a means of both expression and teaching even though know it is rough.

But I do appreciate the work you go through to first, write a book and second to get it published, and third to share with the blog world pertinent info that is valuable to them. Thanks for your hard work.

Wanda said...

Of course I'm not a writer but a targeted approached definitely sounds better.

Marjorie said...

You always have something informative to say. I enjoy reading your posts.

Grammy said...

Goodness gracious! I am learning a lot about publishing and it is all very interesting. Targeting seems like a necessary step before looking for a publisher. Good post.

Natasha said...

Absolutely agree. Such a lot of effort and all for nothing. Unless of course it was a standard e-mail query that she used, but unless it is standardised to some extent, what are the chances of publication?

~ Rayna

Jessica Bell said...

hmm, I just thought that was logical. I'm surprised this writer didn't even think of that! How odd!

Unknown said...

What you say sounds logical. Work smarter not harder is my motto.

I go a step further. I research the editors and agents blogs, too. I want to know who they rep and what they want.

That said, I need to start querying agents again.

Eric W. Trant said...

"A" is for A-Freaking-MEN! (AMEN)

Targeting involves more than selecting the right genre, though.

Don't forget the three most important things about selecting an agent or publisher: Location, location, location.

See, agents and publishers want local people who can go to all those book signings.

Never never NEVER forget location. It's why NYrs and W-Coasters have a much better chance of being published than an East Texan.

Find a local publisher, in your genre, submit to them and lemme know how that works out for you.

- Eric