Why is this book needed right now?
What makes it different from other books out there on the subject?
Who’s going to read it?
Why am I the right person to write it?
The “they” in his post are agents and editors. I told Brian that I loved him. And I do. See, our tinfoil hats are rarely zeroed in on the same frequency as the author, and this means we can’t divine these answers from a short paragraph pitching the joys of knitting toilet paper doilies.
Selling yourself and your manuscript is your job. It’s not ours to play 20 Questions in a game of email ping pong. And yet I’ve done this, and it drives me crazy. Every. Damn. Time. I grind my teeth while pounding out another Let’s Flesh Out the Author email, wondering why they’re making it so hard for me. They’ve whet my appetite enough to make me ask more – which really bugs me because instead of trying to find out all the pertinent details, I should be asking for pages.
Why not ask for pages up front? Because if that toilet paper knitter is a grease monkey who fixes rust buckets for the local used car sales lot, I realize he’s probably not the best person to have written this work. Why waste my time? On the other hand, if the author is the Grand Pooba of Knitters Anonymous and penned the now-famous 12-Step Program for Kitteh Sweaters, then she has my attention.
In short, I can’t take the chance the author isn’t the Grand Pooba, so I have to ask. Which wastes my time. I know, I know, who cares about wasting the time of an underpaid editor? But that same underpaid editor is the one who will say yay or nay to asking for pages. Those of you who take the step toward getting published are in the sales business, and a big part of sales is telling us why you’re the best person to have written your book, and why your book rocks.
By answering the questions Brian so eloquently penned, this information is often the difference between asking to see pages and sending out a form rejection letter. At the very least, it defines you as a pro.