We've all heard the adage -- If given lemons, make lemonade. Yeah, right. But what if that lemon truck keeps visiting you on a regular basis? Oh, sure, you've learned to do variations - add strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, orange juice, tea, and whatever else strikes your fancy. Still, the bottom line is there. You're getting lemons!
First and foremost. Quit making lemonade. Find another use for lemons.
I've been beating my head against a wall trying to find an agent. Yes, I know it seems a bit old-fashioned to be looking for an agent these days since it is so easy to self-publish. Oh, wait a minute! I did self-publish and the money has just been rolling in -- NOT!
The number of new books put out as self-published each day will stagger your imagination. I released one at Smashwords.com and startled to discover in a mere hour it was down on the list of new releases by over 30 other books. By the end of the day it was something close to 200+ and moving quickly into oblivion.
Don't get too smug about Amazon being better. New releases there fare about the same. Now add to the fact that you're an unknown and your sales will be abysmal, at best, unless you have extremely savvy marketing skills or a fantastic fan base -- which defeats the concept of "unknown" as we know it.
But I digress. Back to my search for an agent. (Are you going to believe that the last 2 paragraph diatribe will come back to relate?)
I discovered a secret. This secret is going to be so simple it will make you sick. Marketing. Bet you didn't see that one coming.
Marketing yourself is just as important as marketing your book. If your query letter is a dry, lifeless piece of droll, the agent or publisher is going to move on. From the synopsis to the bio, everything has to shine like highly polished military brass to pass inspection. In other words, if you can't see yourself in the words you place to the paper, then it is useless.
Can you describe your book in one sentence of no more than 4 or 5 words? I mean, can you tell me what it is about? Think of any book you've read -- what is the story? We've all read Huckleberry Finn -- what is the story about? Think it over. How about - Boys rafting on a river?
There are several themes within the story - racism, slavery, Christianity, love, drunkenness, friendship and more. But, those are themes, not what the story is about.
To market yourself, your book, whatever - you need to know your product.
I realized that all the rejections were coming from me not knowing my product -- me, and my book. I kept making lemonade, changing the ingredients to the lemonade but not changing the concept of the recipe.
I took the lemons and decided to do something else other than lemonade. Working from that 4 or 5 word sentence about my book, I was able to expand it slowly, adding to it and reviewing until I had a full page that told about the book, not necessarily the themes. I now had something marketable. Even my bio changed from a dry listing of my credits to an exciting read about me and my credits.
My self-published book may slowly sink in the quagmire of newly released publications but now I have the secret weapon - a description of the book, not some gimmicky catch-phrase like all the rest of those on Amazon or Smashwords.
BTW, if you're tired of lemonade -- try this. Melt 1 stick of butter in a skillet. Slice 1 or 2 lemons and place as a layer in the skillet on the butter. Toss raw shrimp in 1 T olive oil to coat. Put raw shrimp on top of the lemon slices. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake in oven at 350 for approximately 5-10 mins until pink and done. Serve shrimp over a pile couscous and drizzle the lemon butter sauce from the skillet over the shrimp and couscous. Mmmm.
So, in the future, when you think you want to make lemonade, step back and evaluate. There are other ways to handle lemons.
Until next I ramble on...