This is an “excuse me” post. Excuse my tardiness in posting and excuse my delay in answering your queries.
I’ll answer a couple of more questions that have been asked repeatedly regarding the use of survey material.
First question – Can I use work associates, critic groups, relatives, etc. to add to the sample used in the survey? Answer – An unequivocal NO! First, ANYONE you know isn’t likely to be an objective judge/contributor (and that can cut either way). The last thing you want is someone answering the way they think you want them to. There goes validity. Second, the survey is designed to get a profile on people who read and buy the material you write. Many of the folks you’d solicit from the groups above won’t qualify. This is not a feel good exercise.
Second question – Isn’t this a great thing to show an agent or publisher to illustrate the effort you’re making to “get it right?” This one is tough. Common sense might tell you it is. I’ve found that it isn’t. Think about this, does it make sense for you, a novice, to take info to a publishing professional? See how that might be interpreted? Most folks in the publishing field are competent – they don’t survive long if they aren’t. Yes, there are exceptions, but…. Some agents and editors see simply showing them the survey as a gimmick–done specifically to impress them, not to improve your work. NEVER use a gimmick. Robert Parker (RIP) told a couple of we “unwashed” that he met at a conference, “One of the quickest ways to foul out with pros is using a gimmick.” Most pros have seen them all. He told us of a male agent who received a nude picture of the author with her ms. Other than posting her pic and some sarcastic comments in his office he didn’t bother to read a page. Since he told us this in the hotel bar, you know it’s true. What the survey info CAN be used for is to aid in making a valid marketing plan. If you don’t have a plan and you’re writing for publication, you’d better make a GOOD one. The survey is a starting point for your analysis and you can validate your work with what you learned. I’ve found this does impress agents and … publishers in particular.
I attended the Port Charlotte Cultural Center’s Christmas in July event last weekend. Besides meeting a ton of great people (readers) and selling lots of books, it’s always great to mingle with other writers, particular ones who are “Grade AA” at their craft. Pictured above is woman’s commercial fiction author Virginia Crane. She puts together a great read in her genre. If you’re a fan of women’s lit, your bookshelf should have Virginia’s novels on it.
Things are busy. The release of my latest book, Bully Route Home, a book tour to intro it, and some individual appearances, all in the next 45 days, are keeping me moving like a cat that jumped into a pit bull kennel. In addition, I’m really looking forward to attending the Unicorn Writers Conference in the same time period. I’ll be telling you more about all these in coming posts.
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