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Give 'Em What They Want: The Right Way to…

Give 'Em What They Want: The Right Way to Pitch Your Novel to Editors and…

by Blythe Camenson

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Was written in 2005. Mostly seems like helpful advice, though some is outdated (sending queries as professional letters in snail mail, instead of quick blurbs in email).

It would be nice to see an agent's view of this book, or how their view of this book has changed in the last six years.

I underlined plenty in this book, and intend to check out websites I don't already have saved. ( )
  AprilBrown | Feb 25, 2015 |
I died a little bit inside when I read this book. Yes, I should know better. When I write about self-publishing, the recurrent theme is that “publishing is a business.” And the goal of a business is to make money. (With a few exceptions, those being a selection of small presses that look to break even in order to present artistically valuable, non-commerical work.) The big however is that being an artist is not a business. Being an artist is about creating something new, a form, whether it be on stage, on the written page, or on a canvas. Then, once you’ve poured your heart into a work, you need to decide whether it’s publishable or salable, and if so to whom and how.

The problem with this book is that it never acknowledges the artist. By contrast, I recommend a book that covers the exact same strategies and advice as this one, but presents it in a way that understands the struggles of the writer. Read my review of The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit by Elizabeth Lyon for a more humane and broader examination of the process of finding an agent or publisher.

Even the title “Give ‘Em What They Want” makes me rather ill. How about, no, “Create What You Want and If They Don’t Like It Then Screw ‘Em, Do It Yourself.” I’m not being completely fair because for most writers the goal is to get published. Even so, the question becomes, how can you be true to your artistic aspirations and the commercial needs of a publishing house? What is a matter of integrity and what is a matter of respectable editing? Each writer needs to decide within their own conscience and by their own goals what is important to them. But this book acts like the be-all, end-all goal is to be published at all costs.

Here's a story from this book:
Robert Walker…was nearly crushed when the synopsis for a book to be called Downfall got rejected. So he telephoned the editor and asked why he’d been turned down (something we usually advise against doing).
“Two reasons,” he remembers her replying. “We’re doing long books now, not short. Our novels have to be at least 80,000 words, and that leaves
Downfall 20,000 words short....[and:] we’re full up on mysteries right now. What we really need is more horror scripts.”
“All right. Give me a contract, and I’ll add 20,000 words and put in a monster.”
She agreed, and Walker had a sale. That’s flexibility.”

And that made me throw up a little in my mouth.

Some straightforward, decent tips in here for writing query letters, but I much preferred the presentation by Elizabeth Lyon.

( )
  David_David_Katzman | Nov 26, 2013 |
Good advice for first timers about formatting paper submissions and query letters. However, the section on email query versus snail mail query needs help! The same goes for the section with quotes from agents about what they're looking for. I have noticed over the years that generalizations about literary agents and the market are dangerous because we're talking about people and an industry that's all about "the exception." Also, I won't name names here, but the agent who claimed that email queries are effortless compared with paper submissions, so she doesn't take them as seriously really doesn't have a clue. Writing an effective e-query takes just as much time as writing an effective letter. The only steps the writer avoids are the trip to visit all the happy people at the post office and wasting paper and toner printing out a bunch of pages that may or may not ever be returned. As a writer, I have doubts about the idea of working with someone who has a bias against technophiles and who wants to do all their correspondence by snail mail. Yeck! I really don't understand the reasoning the agent used to determine the more effort/higher quality inquiry equation. Does she think manuscripts typed on a typewriter are superior to the ones written with a word processor? Sheesh. ( )
  tripleAgirl | Feb 26, 2011 |
This is a very well-done book on packaging your manuscript and selling your novel. It provides advice and several examples on doing tricky things such as the synopsis, query letters, cover letters, and chapter outlines. Most of the examples are from successful published authors. This information is fantastic and worlds better than the books on the subject a decade ago. I need to SEE what my query should look like. Don't just tell me and confuse me, show me! They do exactly that, and it is very comforting. I can't say that this book helped me sell my manuscript - yet - but I have found it conversational and informative. (I even found two typos in it, haha.) "Give'em What They Want" is one of the text books for my Writer's Digest Online Workshop on Writing the Novel Proposal. Yes, they were pushing one of the books from their publishing division, but I think it was an excellent choice. ( )
  ladycato | Jan 14, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 158297330X, Paperback)

Learn how to craft a killer pitch - and get your novel published today.

One of a writer's most difficult tasks is crafting a submission package. In order to get published you need to compose queries, synopses, and outlines that will prove irresistible to agents and editors. Give 'Em What They Want uses step-by-step instructions to break down the process, making it easier than you thought possible to put together a query packet, sample chapters, outlines, synopses - everything you need to interest an agent or editor in your novel. Inside you'll find:

Dozens of samples complete with comments and suggestions for improvement

Successful submission techniques from published authors

Advice from well-respected agents and editors about avoiding common submission pitfalls

Information on working with agents and editors once your pitch is complete

And much more!

Give 'Em What They Want includes everything you need to know about approaching anyone in the publishing industry with your novel. Pitching your novel has never been easier!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:22 -0400)

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