In my last blog, I discussed the importance of establishing a brand, both for authors and small publishers. It’s also important that you regularly check your brand to see what people are saying about it. The easiest way to do this is by doing a Google search. I regularly perform searches for Divertir Publishing to see what people are saying about us. When I find something good, I’ll sometimes link to it. If I find comments suggesting we need to improve in some area, I try to make improvements. It was a well-written comment a while back suggesting that some of our covers needed to be more modern that caused me to rethink some of our current cover designs.
In a recent Google search, I found a blog by an author that stated we had sent him a form rejection letter twice. He commented that form letters were not really “doing things differently” and then went on to swear while making “suggestions” for improvement (these “suggestions” were not PG – thus the reason for not providing a link for the blog). First, I would like to apologize to the author – a mistake was made and I promise we will be more diligent about not sending these types of emails twice in the future. Second, I actually agree with him that form letters are not really “doing things differently.” Authors who have followed Divertir Publishing since our start know that we used to send a personalized email to every author. Three things happened to change this:
- The growing slush pile. Last year we processed well over 1,000 queries. As much as I like the idea of replying to each query individually, the truth is this is no longer practical if we are going to continue to accept queries from authors.
- Reality. Our current rejection letter says our reason for not pursuing a manuscript is that we are “not the right publisher.” This is an accurate statement, and to say anything else would be pretentious. I no more know what the next blockbuster will be than the people publishing books by reality TV stars and the dogs of celebrities. What I do know is what I like, and that’s what we publish. In instances where a manuscript seems like a good idea but is just not my cup of tea, I’m not sure how appropriate it is for me to say much more than that.
- “Fan” emails. People who have read my blog for a while know that is my polite way of describing the nasty emails we get from authors calling us everything from “hacks running a vanity press” to “tools of the publishing elite, who lack the vision to see real genius” when we reject a manuscript (those are in quotes because we really did get those two emails). This is a case where a few bad apples have spoiled the bunch – because of emails like this, I no longer provide advice to authors (whether it is on changes they could make so their query letter stands out or things they should think about for their manuscript) unless they request it.
So what does this have to do with an author’s brand? I think I’ll break my rule here and give a general piece of advice that I hope is useful. When an agent or publisher is considering sending you a contract, often they will take the time to find out as much as they can about you, including looking at your Facebook page and reading your blog. An unprofessional rant (that includes swearing) about a simple mistake is just as likely to demonstrate to those agents and publishers that your brand is not something they want to consider as it is to demonstrate that your brand is worth the investment…