01 September 2009

Bouchercon Guest Blogger #7 -- Austin Camacho

The pre-Boucheron guest blog tour rolls on this fine Tuesday with author Austin Camacho. Camacho is the author of five detective novels in the Hannibal Jones series - Blood and Bone, Collateral Damage, The Troubleshooter, Damaged Goods and Russian Roulette.

The Eternal Question – How Do I Get Published? – by Austin S. Camacho

I talk to a lot of authors who ask me to read a sample of their novels, which I almost always do. I see a lot of work that looks well written, heartfelt work by writers who have something important to say. But these days their most frequent question isn’t about craft or concept. More likely I’m asked, “How do I go from here to getting someone interested in perhaps publishing this thing? What’s the next step?”

That’s the question, isn’t it? Especially when often I don't think even the well-written books are particularly commercial. Of course, that's just one opinion. If I was an expert I’d already have that million-dollar advance.But even great manuscripts won't appeal to every publisher, so I strongly recommend they get their book in front of the right publisher as agented submissions. And if the writer is working in my genre, crime fiction, these are books that not every agent will know how to promote. Your novel might not be the kind of thing that would get my agent excited but I’m sure there are people out there who would love to represent it. That leads me to two major recommendations for getting started.First, invest in a copy of the Writer’s Market. That book lists all the best agents, their contact information and what they’re looking for. Go thru those listings and submit to those that are looking for the kind of thing you write. The Writer’s Market will tell you what each agent wants to see (sample chapters, outline, sometimes just a letter with a synopsis.) Second, Google “Writers convention” and “Writers Conference” to find these events in your area. You should attend any public event that offers a chance to speak with and network with authors, agents and editors. These connections make your manuscript more welcome when it turns up on someone’s desk. Sending a book to an agent or editor you’ve met in person is a million times better than sending to a stranger.

And if you’re a mystery writer, Bouchercon is the one writer’s event worth travelling cross country for. This is where you can chat with people writing in your genre to learn how they made it. You can also talk to people who read your genre. They can tell you what they’re looking for in a new novel. And you’ll find that just answering the obvious questions like "what's it about?" and "what makes your book different from all the others?" can help you make your manuscript better.

And in case you’re wondering – I met the editor who eventually published Blood and Bone at a writer’s conference. I didn’t meet my agent at a con, but I did meet the author who introduced me to her at Book Expo America. I hope I meet YOU at this year’s Bouchercon.


Deborah Sharp said...

Great advice. Like Austin, I also get the how to get published question a lot. So much so, I've thought about putting a tips for aspiring writers section on my website. Like him, I also met my ed. at a mystery con, so I always advise folks to attend. I'm going to add the Writer's Market tip, too ... Thanks!

MarthaE said...

Hi Austin! Sounds like good advise. Making the right contacts - an example of the network system at work. In addition to a good product of course! It is very good of you to offer help to other aspiring writers.