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Neubauer's Nuggets
By Joan Neubauer
July, 2007, 10:30

Each month, award-winning author Joan R. Neubauer answers questions from you, her readers. She will answer questions about writing, promotion, publishing, and any other aspect of the publishing industry you can think of. Send your questions to her at Subject: Neubauer Nuggets, and maybe yours will be the question she answers next month.

ed. Joan is currently on holidays. The following is from our 2005 archives.

Dear Joan,

I'm a self-published author, with my first book, and go to book festival after book festival. I sell a few books and even make back the money I invested for table space. But I don't see much point to these things. Can you tell me why I should continue to go?
-Mary Spence

Dear Mary,

Think a little outside the box and ask yourself why you self-published in the first place. You probably did so for three reasons: one, you had something to say, two, you wanted to share it with the world, and three, you couldn't convince anyone else of your genius. Book festivals give you the chance to share what you have to say to the world. You sell your books and put them in the hands of readers. If they like your work, they will look for other books that flow from your brain. If you accumulate enough of those people, you will have them clamoring for more, which will persuade other publishers to invest in you. So by selling your books, you are establishing a fan base. Good for you!

However, there is another very important reason to go to book festivals: networking. Take the opportunity to network with the other authors. Meet them. Learn about their publishers, their agents, their efforts at marketing and promotion. Expand your friendships in the literary community. Also, bear in mind that publishers, editors, and agents also attend many of these book festivals. Seek them out. Meet them. Get acquainted. Don't try to sell them something the first time you meet them, just offer friendship and good conversation. Offer a cold drink and talk about the weather. Make a positive first impression and start a relationship. Then, at some future date, when you send a manuscript, they will know who you are and give your manuscript the consideration it merits.

Good luck, keep writing, and keep attending those book festivals!

Dear Joan,

About a year ago I met an editor at a conference. We talked about the manuscript I was working on at the time, a mystery. She encouraged me to send it to her when I completed it. By the time I finished it, she had moved to a different house and no longer develops mysteries. In an odd sort of way, I almost feel abandoned. What should I do?
-Don Stevens

Dear Don,

Don't feel abandoned. Editors often move from one house to another. That's just the nature of the industry. I often tell students that editors play musical chairs. They all know each other and they routinely rotate jobs. That's the reality, but now that it's happened to you, you have to deal with it.

Since you have established first contact with this editor, I would first send her a note congratulating her on her move to her new job. This tells her that you're keeping tabs on the heartbeat of the industry, the mark of a professional. Then tell her that you've finished the manuscript that she had an interest in, but since she's no longer working with mysteries, ask her if she could recommend another editor to send it to.

At first blush, you might think it's a matter of just sending your manuscript to the new editor, however, having the recommendation of another editor, will give your manuscript a bit of an advantage. Name drop in your cover letter. Tell the new editor that Editor so-and-so recommended that you send it. This is what we call a "warm referral," and these are so much more effective than any "cold call" or out of the blue query you might make.

Good luck and keep writing.
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Joan R. Neubauer is an author, publisher, public speaker, and editor. Her latest books are A Serpentís Tooth and Shadow Dancing. For information on topics that Joan speaks about or to invite her to speak to your organization, you can contact her at

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