Nabbed from a query letter:
“I self published a book last year on Amazon to great acclaim, but I realized it’s best to leave publishing to the professionals.”
This isn’t a positive statement, and doesn’t make me excited about asking for pages. Rather, this infers that for whatever reason, the author self-pubbed and didn’t do well promoting it – checking Amazon bore this out. So I have to ask myself whether the author would be equally unsuccessful in promoting a book with us. I understand the uphill battle of the self-pubbed author and that promotion is much more difficult, but I’ve seen plenty self-pubbed authors kick ass and take names. They’re an asset.
Whether it’s a fair assessment or not, I see the author as a liability. It sucks to have to make snap judgements, but publishers have no choice but to weigh the pluses and minuses of an author’s platform because it’s a vital element to publishing nonfiction.
The take away here is that if you don’t have anything positive to say, then don’t mention it. Instead, focus on your book, what it’s about, why it rocks, and why readers will clamor to buy it. It’s a better idea to play up your platform than divulge how poorly your self-pubbed book did. Keep it positive because that’s far more infectious.
And when you’re talking about your book, don’t forget to include the most important elements of your story:
- Who is the protagonist?
- How did he/she come to this story?
- What does s/he want?
- What does s/he discover?
- What choices/decisions/changes does s/he encounter?
- What terrible thing will happen/ would have happened if s/he chooses (chose) A; what terrible thing will happen/would have happened if s/he doesn’t/didn’t?
Now go forth and be brilliant!