Sunday, August 21, 2022

Why First Impressions Matter


By Terry Whalin
@terrywhalin

As an editor, it is no exaggeration to say I’ve reviewed thousands of submissions during my years in publishing. As a writer, you have one opportunity to make a good first impression. While it may sound simplistic to say it, your impression is made in a matter of seconds. A key piece of advice is to lead with your strongest material and work hard on the subject line of your email, the first sentence and paragraph of your submission and all of the overall details.

 

Several years ago, I interviewed another acquisitions editor and asked him how he knows if he’s found a good submission. He said, “Terry, I read the title and if it is a good title, I read the first sentence. If it is a good sentence, I read the first paragraph. If it is a good paragraph, I read the first page. If it is a good page, I read the next page…” I hope this helps you see why you have seconds in this important process. The typical editor or agent reviews many pitches and can easily tell a good one. Don’t bury your good information on page five or six because they may not reach it.

 

How To Make A Good Impression

 

While these guidelines may be common sense, you’d be surprised how often writers make poor impressions when they neglect the basics. Make sure your pitch is well-crafted and appropriate to that person or editor. Use the right name. Personalize the pitch and don’t write “Dear Sir” or “Editor/Agent” which looks like it went to thousands of people at the same time—whether it did or not.

 

Check and double check to make sure all of the details are there. For example, at Morgan James Publishing, we acknowledge every submission with a letter in the mail. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 200 books so that is a lot of physical correspondence. If your address is not on your pitch, then I have to ask for it in order to get your submission into our internal system. If you include your address from the beginning, then you eliminate one extra time-consuming email I have to send to you.

 

Take a few minutes and make one final check of their publishing guidelines before you send your submission. Re-read the pitch and make any final adjustments.

 

Insights for Writers

 

Producing an excellent book proposal or query letter is an acquired skill—something you have to learn. Yet every writer knows these tools are a critical part of the publishing industry. I understand excellent book proposals require a great deal of energy. I’ve written two proposals which received six-figure advances from traditional publishers. My Book Proposals That Sell has over 130 Five Star reviews. I have a free book proposal checklist to give you some ideas. (Follow the link). Also, I have a free teleseminar at: AskAboutProposals.com. Finally, I created an online course with detailed information at: WriteABookProposal.com.

 

Remember Your Audience: Editors and Agents

 

While the process takes some work and planning, I’ve been inside some of the top literary agencies and publishers’ offices in New York City. Each of these professionals is actively looking for the next bestseller—even if they don’t respond or send you a form rejection. Every writer (whether brand new or much published) has to pitch to get a book deal. Learn the process and pitch with excellence which is spotted in seconds.

 

Tweetable:

 

Why do first impressions matter? This prolific writer and editor provides the details here. (ClickToTweet)

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W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s newest book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. The revised and updated edition will be out later this year. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

8 comments:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Terry, this is amazing because it is rare!

“Check and double check to make sure all of the details are there. For example, at Morgan James Publishing, we acknowledge every submission with a letter in the mail. We receive over 5,000 submissions a year and only publish about 200 books so that is a lot of physical correspondence. If your address is not on your pitch, then I have to ask for it in order to get your submission into our internal system. If you include your address from the beginning, then you eliminate one extra time-consuming email I have to send to you.

Doing the right thing should n’t be amazing!

I offer an example of useful, courteous , and great marketing signatures to any one who emails me. Everyone benefits. It doesn’t include my ground address but I will start using it in case I should get lucky enough to hear from folks like you! 😊.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Hojonews. At Aol. Dot. Com.
HowtoDoItFrugally.com

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn,

Thank you for the feedback and the example of your signature which is excellent.

Terry

Karen Cioffi said...

Terry, this is such a helpful article. Most authors are intimidated with having to submit a query or book proposal. But you've given steps to take to make the editor want to read on. It's all about creating a quality book, following submission guidelines, and getting past the gatekeepers. Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Terry, lol. I believe in letting my email platforms help me with 1. Being courteous. 2. Saving time! 😊
❤️Carolyn
HowtoDoItFrugally.com

Terry Whalin said...

Karen,

Thank you for this feedback about my article. Submnissions are hard for every writer but they need to keep pressing forward to make the right first impression and I'm glad to help from my experience reading many submissions.

Terry

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I think I am going to add my PO Box to my everyday email signatures, thanks to this article! I am reluctant to put my home address in all my emails, but the PO BOX i have will work. Thanks for the nudge, Terry!
Carolyn Howard -Johnson
Waiting on address till I have it memorized! 😊
HowtoDoItFrugally.com

deborah lyn said...

Thanks Terry for your helpful and encouraging article!

Terry Whalin said...

Deborah Lyn,

I appreciate your taking the time to comment and the encouragement--something each of us need.

Terry

Every Writer Needs Connections

  By W. Terry Whalin   @terrywhalin Wherever you are in the writing world: brand new or experienced every writer needs publishing connection...