Work is Good: Spam is Not
More tips from my FB page, with some added commentary
I know a lot of you out there are dying to get into publishing, but many of you don’t go about it the right way. Here’s a few simple tips that will help you target your efforts more effectively.
It is very easy to put off a potential client, or friendly contact, with one simple mistake: failing to research the person whose attention you’re trying to get.
One of the worst and most common mistakes is to send emails, particularly those which include manuscripts or artwork, as attachments to artists and writers. I don’t know any creators who are happy to get those unsolicited works. I got five this week.
Most of us have lawyers who tell us not to look at anything we haven’t solicited. We live in a very litigious society, and unfortunately, professionals also have to deal with unbalanced people who seem to think we’re getting all our ideas from their stuff. Stuff we could not possibly have seen. Ideas are common, similar ideas are common, and throwing around accusations of idea stealing is so common it is not funny. Which is one reason why many creators won’t look at unsolicited work at all, or even do portfolio reviews.
Creators don’t do the hiring as a rule, publishers do. So you are wasting your time sending your work to a creator.
Sending your work to a creator also proves right away that you are not serious about being a creator yourself. You show that you don’t know what you are doing right out of the gate, and didn’t bother to find out what to do. That’s cute when you’re 14, but it’s not so cute when you’re 30.
A serious creator will do some research, and will check out publishers and their submission guidelines.
If you are emailing an artist or writer like me about how to get hired, asking who the editors are, where you should send stuff, and if I can make an introduction for you, I know right away I am dealing with someone who is trying to take shortcuts. The names of editors are easy to find. You need to scope out editors, look at the kind of work they edit, scope out publishers, look at their submission guidelines, and then proceed accordingly. Asking me what publishers want to see wastes your time and mine because there are no hard and fast rules about submitting. Every publisher has different rules.
There are no shortcuts to getting published. It isn’t “Who you know,” so trying to be best buds with an artist or writer online will not get you very far unless you have good work to show someone, and you show that work to the right people. If you send spam emails, and clog up FB and twitter feeds with your stuff, you will not make an ally of a creator. You will just piss them off.
Your target client is not other creators, your target client is a publisher.
Find the publisher that suits your goals, and do what you should do.
Remember, a publisher speaks business, but an aspiring creator speaks need. You need to learn how to speak the publisher’s language. They already know how to speak your language, they hear it from 100 people a day. Your need to be published is common. What you must show to a publisher is how your needs are congruent with theirs.
So, don’t waste your time targeting creators.
On occasion, a creator will get you a job. I’ve done it.
But I’ve never done it for someone who sends me huge email attachments and spams my feed. That trick never works.
Something you guys have got to understand: this is our job. This is what we do for a living.
To an aspiring creator, it’s a dream. Their identity as creators is a core tenant. The need to be acknowledged by a respected source is crippling to some artists. And almost everyone says, “Oh my God, I love it so much I don’t do it for the money! I’d do it for free!”
And that is why it is hard to move from pro to aspirant. That is why you can’t connect: we speak a different language.
To you it’s a vacation, to us it’s a vocation.
If you want to be a pro, you need to tune in to pro values and language.
One of my publishers (a big one) who reads my blog regularly wanted me to pass this on:
He doesn’t want to work with people who don’t care if their work makes money, who’d do it for free. He wants to work with people whose work makes money. Because if the work he publishes doesn’t make money, he goes out of business.
If you want to make love to the world with your art, by all means do so. No one is stopping you. It does not devalue your art in any way.
But if you want to be a pro, you must learn to think like a pro. Informing a client you don’t care if the work makes any money is not going to impress the client one bit. You can be sure the client wants to make money on what you are hoping he’ll publish.
Some emphasize the importance of networking, getting to know pros who will put in a good word for you.
That’s not really networking, because you are not in the network until you’re a part of the scene. You are not part of the program, any more than you’re on television because you know an actor.
There is no value in knowing a pro unless you have good work to show. No pro is going to push you unless you have something to offer. They’re not going to give you an introduction without a reasonable belief you will be able to pull through on a job. If you flake out or screw up, it reflects badly on their judgment. I’ve had reason to regret a few people I’ve pushed forward. Big time.
Knowing a pro is absolutely useless without your good art samples or a good manuscript. It is not really that hard to get published somehow or somewhere in this business. This industry is crawling with small publishers, and anyone can publish on the web.
Getting published is common. Getting published well, not so simple.
Cozying up to creators will avail you very little without quality work. Work on your art. Your art will get you much farther than hitting the like button 1000 times on someone’s FB page.
The work first, worry about the pro life second.
Do good work.
Then be a good pro.