Make the Sell First

by Ron Estrada

You are a salesperson.

Say it with me.

I (insert name) am a salesperson.

Let me tell you about salespeople, having spend most of my adult life working in close proximity with these folks. A salesperson will tell you what you want to hear in order to the “yes.” After said “yes” is achieved, it is only then he’ll tell you what you’ve really just bought. But you’ve already said “yes,” so you’re ten times more likely to go ahead with your purchase.
No, it’s not dishonest. But a good salesperson knows that he can’t sell you diamonds for a penny if your defenses are up. And the “yes” is the wrecking ball against your defenses.

What does this mean to you, dear writer? You, who are wholesome and would never stoop to such tactics when pitching your darlings.

You must stoop.

All of you, I assume, have a novel in hand, ready to pitch. You, being a serious writer, review the bios of every agent and publisher to whom you submit. They often tell you exactly what they’re looking for. Your novel will match none of those. No one’s will.

But you can adjust. Let’s say, for example, the agent or publisher to whom you are pitching (I used whom twice in one post!) has a bio, and she is looking for 20th century historical romances with a paranormal twist.

Your WW2 historical romance is written, edited, re-written, cuddled, and ready to ship.

Now here’s where you pause. Like most writers, you’ve probably dabbled in multiple genres. I don’t need a show of hands, but you’ve likely dabbled in just about every genre minus the 50 Shades category (some of you, and you know who you are, have even stepped into those dark waters).

So ask yourself: would I want to rewrite my novel with a paranormal twist?

If the answer is “no,” keep searching. If it is “yes,” then by all means pitch it that way (helpful tip: make sure you’ve got some sort of outline written for the rewrite so you don’t sound like you’re making it up as you go along…even if you are).

Now, chances are you wouldn’t do this for an agent. They’re far more general in their requirements than publishers. But, if you find yourself in the position I have recently, you have a great publisher on the hook, but she has different ideas about how your novel or series should go.

Can you live with the new direction? (I can…she had better ideas than I did…see my last post).

I suspect that this is often how publishing goes. Now, I still have great plot ideas that I’ve greenlighted as “must writes,” but I don’t need to pitch those now. I need to pitch whatever the publisher wants. I need the “yes.” After I have the “yes,” then I can casually mention to my new publisher, “Oh, by the way, check out this idea.”

Yes, she may hate my favorite ideas, but that’s what hybrid publishing is for.

How about you? Have you ever “massaged” the plot of your written book to get the “yes”? How did things turn out?

Ron Estrada has multiple published magazine articles, including a regular column in the bi-monthly Women2Women Michigan. He also freelances as a technical writer, specializing in white papers for manufacturing and consumer products. He writes spec fiction, hovering somewhere between post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction (he prefers the term pre-Last Days), but has also dabbled in Mystery and Suspense. Turn-ons include long walks to Frosty Boy and dinner by Kindle light. His real-writer’s blog can be found at  You can e-mail him at or catch him (at pretty much any time) on Facebook. Twitter handle is @RonEstrada. CB handle is God’s Gift.