Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gerry Schmitt talks about "Selling Your Novel:" on ROCCO's blog!

ROCCO’s guest blogger!
Gerry Schmitt (aka Laura Childs!)

Selling Your Novel: What Exactly
are Agents and Editors Looking For?

by Gerry Schmitt, author of Shadow Girl

I’ve been amazingly lucky as an author. My first mystery was accepted by Penguin Random House based on three chapters and a slap-dash twelve-page outline. And since then I’ve had another forty books published.

But that kind of beginner’s luck seems to be in short supply these days. Because what worked for me fifteen years ago just doesn’t work today. The world of publishing has changed big time. Publishers are being undercut by e-books, self-published authors, and hundreds of newly minted small presses. Understandably, that’s meant a considerable amount of belt-tightening. And the really radical shift that’s taken place in publishing is that today’s editors no longer edit. Editors are now in charge of acquisitions. They're tasked with finding new authors with new material.

This new breed of editor is always on the hunt for the next big thing. That usually means a great story with memorable, dynamic characters. Editors are also looking for breakout books that are different and don't rehash the same old story. Think current books such as Into the Water, A Dog’s Purpose, or Hillbilly Elegy.

So what can would-be authors do to increase their chance of success? First, take a look at the various categories. The mystery, thriller, and romance categories are holding strong. And a new sub-category – what publishers call “the domestic thriller,” is doing very well. If you’ve written a vampire or zombie book it’s going to be a tough sell, but editors are still looking for good Young Adult books and Children’s picture books.

Second, you’ve got to find yourself an agent that’s willing to take you on. The best thing to do is home in on three or four reputable agents that represent work in your category. Then you’ve got to submit a whiz-bang query letter that immediately nips at their interest.

Remember, too, that today’s tougher, leaner market also means that would-be authors have to write and submit a finished manuscript. Gone are the days when you can win a publishing contract based on a few scribbled chapters.

Authors also need to look at how their concept relates to what’s already out there in the marketplace. If there are already thirty culinary mystery series and you're pitching the thirty-first, it could be a tough sell. You also need to make sure your novel’s internal architecture is spot on. We’re talking plot, pacing, turning points, character development, dialogue, and suspense.

And, finally, in today’s on-demand publishing climate, no matter what kind of book you’re writing, it’s critical to establish an opening story hook immediately. Agents and editors don’t want pages and pages of build-up, they want you to toss your reader directly into the action.

As my agent once said to me, you’re writing mysteries so you’d better deliver a dead body in chapter one!

Best of luck to you!

Gerry Schmitt

Gerry Schmitt Bio
Gerry Schmitt is the author of Shadow Girl, an Afton Tangler Thriller, and Little Girl Gone, the first book in the series. Writing under her pen name Laura Childs, she is the New York Times bestselling author of more than forty mysteries that include the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Her books have also been on the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists. Gerry is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, and written and produced two reality TV shows.

Thanks so much for those helpful hints, Gerry!

Gerry’s latest thriller, SHADOW GIRL hits stores TUESDAY, AUGUST 1! Make sure you get your copy for some good summer reading!


Gerry will give away a signed copy of SHADOW GIRL to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. US entries only please. J  Contest ends midnight, August 4. Good luck!


  1. Good advice, and the new book looks awesome! Marla:

  2. Interesting interview,Rocco. Very informative about the publishing industry and the changes from years ago. I really love Laura's Tea Shop Mysteries, but I haven't read anything written under the name Gerry Schmitt. "Shadow Girl" sounds like an interesting read. We are friends on Facebook,shared post on Facebook. Also following blog and on Twitter.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Interesting post. I'm not an aspiring writer, however, I find the world of publishing fascinating.


    Following your blog
    Following on Twitter
    Tweeted about the contest
    Following on Facebook
    Mentioned the contest on Facebook

  5. Wonderful article. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book. Love all the kitties by the way.
    kayt18 (at) comcast (dot) net

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