The talk soon leads to doom and gloom when authors discuss how hard it is to land a deal with a major publisher. Much of the doom talk is justified.
But what about the books that are getting snapped up? What can we learn from the authors who are landing great deals with major publishers?
Each week, industry newsletter Publisher’s Lunch releases a summary of top titles signed to publishers. It’s enlightening to scan down the selected list of books that will grace bookstores in 12 months or so (that being about the length of time between a publisher signing an author and releasing their book to the market).
Take this list from the March 26 edition of Publisher’s Lunch detailing author, title, concept, and publisher (edited for conciseness):
“This morning we dispatched a report of 58 new deals, among them:
- NYU associate professor of psychology Tessa West's JERKS AT WORK, a taxonomy of toxic colleagues, using a decade of the author's original research on social dynamics to decode the motivations behind bad behavior at work and help readers disengage from it, to Portfolio;
- Rare book dealer and guest star on HISTORY Channel's hit show Pawn Stars Rebecca Romney's JANE AUSTEN'S BOOKSHELF, a literary detective story investigating the disappearance of Jane Austen's favorite writers that explores who they were, how they were forgotten, to Simon & Schuster;
- Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 and creator of NightGowns and Smoke & Mirrors Sasha Velour's untitled memoir-meets-illustrated manifesto on drag as art, community, history, and resistance, to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt;
- Former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer's RIGGED JUSTICE: HOW THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL RUINED AN INNOCENT MAN'S LIFE, the story of how the author was drawn unwittingly into a web of deceit in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal, offering a damning portrait of modern college administration, to Harper One.”
What I’m seeing here is authors with stellar credentials, or a high profile, or a unique story with a timely and relevant message.
If you’re currently pitching to agents and editors, or heading that way soon, ask yourself: what qualities or credentials do I have that will ensure my book makes the list of top titles acquired this week?