Now that the holidays are behind us and everyone is properly at their work desks, it’s time for me to make an open call to writers, editors and publicists to participate in “The Big Idea” feature here at Whatever (and later, when it’s ready, on its own Web site). Below, a quick FAQ to get everyone up to speed. Feel free to share this with whomever you like and to link to it freely.
1. What is The Big Idea?
It’s a feature presented here on Whatever, up to twice-weekly, in which authors discuss their latest books, to the delight and edification of Whatever’s up to 45,000 daily readers.
2. Why would I (or the writer I represent) want to be part of it?
Because Whatever readers love books (hey, they’re visiting the blog of a professional writer), there’s lots of them, and because The Big Idea feature is linked to all over the Internet, drawing in readers from elsewhere — all of whom like hearing from the author what it is that makes their book so damn interesting. As Leverage television show writer John Rogers recently wrote:
[T]his series of blog posts… has allowed me to discover more fine new fiction in a year than all the online reviews I’ve plowed through in the five previous.
3. What authors have participated in The Big Idea?
The index for 2009 participants, which includes award winners and New York Times bestsellers, is here.
4. What does a Big Idea feature require?
A short (400 to 1,000 word) essay from the author on an important aspect of the book. A guide to writing a Big Idea feature is here.
5. Which authors are eligible to be considered for The Big Idea?
The feature is open to all authors regardless of genre, fiction and non-fiction alike. Past participants have tended to come from the genres of science fiction and fantasy, but that’s because I’m a writer in that genre. But there have also been authors of non-fiction, romance, YA and mainstream fiction as well.
Likewise, presses and publishers of all sizes are welcome to query, so long as their works are distributed to major bookstores on a returnable basis and are available on the following three American online book stores: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s.
6. How do I get (or how does my author get) considered for The Big Idea?
Here’s what you do:
a) No earlier than two months from the book’s official publication date and no later than one month from that date, send me an e-mail at email@example.com, with an e-mail header formatted like so: “BIG IDEA QUERY: [Author] [Book Title] [Release Date]”. In the body of the e-mail please briefly describe the book.
(This rule is not applicable to January – February 2010 — I still have open slots to fill in that timeframe. But going forward this rule will apply.)
b) I’ll try to get back to you within the week regarding availability; if you don’t hear back within 10 working days, you can ping again.
c) At some point prior to release, send the book to me (or have your publicist/publisher do so), following my publicity guidelines (mailing address is at that link). ARCs are fine; finished copies are groovy, too.
d) If I have a slot for you (or your author), I’ll give you the date scheduled for the piece; please send (or have your author send) the piece a week before the run date to firstname.lastname@example.org, with an e-mail header formatted like so: “BIG IDEA ENTRY: [Author][Book Title][Scheduled Run Date].”
The following statement is important: You (or your publicist, editor, publisher) need to ask to participate in The Big Idea. Just sending a book or a press release asking me if I’d like to interview you (or your author) isn’t going to work; I get a lot of each. I find The Big Idea works best with authors (and others) who know what it’s about and are affirmatively interested in participating. Also, as a working writer myself I don’t have a huge amount of time to chase down people to participate. So if you want to participate, please ask! Thanks.
7. Do any authors have priority for open Big Idea slots?
In a general sense I will give priority to a) authors who have not written a Big Idea piece before; b) authors whose books are coming out in the week a slot is open; c) authors who actually follow directions noted above. Beyond that, it’s pretty open, and my intent is to get a good mix of authors and books.
Any other questions? Drop ’em in the comment thread. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing your queries!