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brainstrains
08-23-2005, 04:44 PM
Hi, there...
Ok I have another question. I work in marketing for a major non-fiction publisher. I only write fiction. I am wondering whether potential agents see that as a plus or a minus?

I'm concerned there may be some politics involved. What if agents are just humoring me because they don't want to upset the relationship they have with the publisher, or being nice because they think I can get them a better "in" with the publisher?

Wondering whether I should leave that off my query letter in the future. I don't really have many other credentials to speak of though, except my knowledge of the publishing/marketing process. Anyone have any views?

Thanks!

The Numinous One
08-24-2005, 07:14 PM
I also work for a large non-fiction publisher, and I write fiction. I don't list my job on my queries because, IMO, it means nothing to the agents if I say I know more about the ins and outs of the business than the next writer. As far as I'm concerned, if my query isn't good and they aren't interested, then the next writer is exactly who they'll look at. I don't want them to know I work in publishing because I want them to focus on my pitch, and not wonder if I'm mentioning my job because I think it makes me more entitled to be published than anyone else (I'm not!).

Also, I sent out my query with only one professional publishing credit listed - for a 499-word flash fiction story. Despite my lack of experience, to date I've received requests for chapters from half the agents I've queried, and two have gone on to request full manuscripts. Not bad for a first novel - I'd expected flat-out rejections.

So my opinion is that you don't need to list your job or your experience in the industry on your query. I don't think it's a matter of "helping" or "hurting", just that it's not relevant information. Your query either works for the agent or it doesn't, and working for Publisher X doesn't make a difference.

(As far as office politics are concerned, I wouldn't worry about that, either. A good, professional agent isn't going to waste his time reading something they don't want to just to appease a large company or "protect" his clients' relationship with that company. I'm sure any good agent would realize that you're enough of a professional to separate the business of your novel, which is personal, with the business of the company you work for. Then again, if you don't tell agents who you work for, it eliminates this problem altogether.)

brainstrains
08-24-2005, 08:14 PM
Thanks...I was leaning toward leaving off all mention of it just to eliminate the question altogether. I've read that a lot of publishers appreciate that you have marketing experience, but that alone won't get you published, so I agree, it's probably irrelevant. I guess I'll just stick with that three-word bio section: "I got nothin'".

So, errr, maybe we work for the same company? LOL

Good luck!

The Numinous One
08-24-2005, 08:30 PM
Thanks...I was leaning toward leaving off all mention of it just to eliminate the question altogether. I've read that a lot of publishers appreciate that you have marketing experience, but that alone won't get you published, so I agree, it's probably irrelevant. I guess I'll just stick with that three-word bio section: "I got nothin'".

So, errr, maybe we work for the same company? LOL

Good luck!

I was wondering the same thing! Well, if your publisher works across the river from, but not in, NYC, then we might very well work for the same company. Good luck to you too!

Andrew Zack
08-25-2005, 03:48 PM
In my experience, publishers prefer to be in charge of the marketing and therefore might actually react NEGATIVELY to the news that you work in marketing. When I was a young editor, I sent the cover copy for a book to the author, who happened to be a professional copywriter. She completely rewrote it and, in my opinion, it was significantly better. I gave it to the copy chief and the next I heard about it was when the Editor-in-Chief made an announcement in the editorial meeting that no editors were to share copy with the author unless we were contractually required to do so. Hmm. Think there was a connection between the rewrite and the announcement?

A publisher can't stop you from doing your own marketing plan, and some may even ask to see it, but they will most likely not want to hear your opinions on THEIR marketing plan, so tread lightly in the "telling the publisher how to do its job" department. Thus, mentioning your background could work against you here. Or not. It's all subjective, after all.

Confusingly yours,
Andy

brainstrains
08-25-2005, 04:33 PM
Thank you, Andy!

I would ever tell a publisher how to do its job, or force my marketing ideas upon them, but I guess they don't know that, so it's just another reason for keeping my bio short!