Who are you trying to sell your book to? If you think you’re trying to sell your book to your “readers” then you’re a damned moron.
You wrote your book and now you're sending it out to People In The Industry. Good on ya, mate. Here’s a test to see who you want to buy the damn thing. Look in the email. Yeah, up there above where it says “Subject Line.” See where it says “TO:”? That’s who you want to buy the thing. Probably. Unless that person is trying to sell it to someone else. And, of course, unless that one is trying to sell it to someone else and so on. But you have to sell it to that one person. Let your editor sell it to the sales force and the sales force sell it to the buyer for the bookstore and the salesperson at the bookstore show it to someone in the store who goes home and orders it off Amazon. You don't need to worry about that. You just have to sell it to the one person in your "TO:" field up there.
If you’re trying to land an agent or an editor, you pretty much need to do two things. One: write a decent book. Presuming you’ve already done that, you’ll need to do one other thing: make them want to buy the book. That’s it. A two-step process.
Now, what makes people want to buy the book? Look, there’s a shitload of good books out there. Sure, you like to think that the cream will float to the top, but you know what else floats? A big old turd. You want your floating cream separated from everyone else’s floating turd. You have to connect with the buyer, whatever you’re selling.
I was in sales for a long fucking time. That Gary Ross guy says ABC stands for “always be closing.” Well, that guy's a moron. Stands for “always be connecting.” You connect, you sell. Simple as that. When I was selling crap, one minute I’d be a huge Vince Ferragamo fan. That afternoon, nobody could hold the jock of Kenny Stabler. The hell did I care? My job was 1. to sell widgets and 2. get from one end of the day to the other without getting blackout drunk. And the key to selling was and always will be connecting. (Someday I'll tell you the story of running into the woman playing Vanessa in 'Corvette Summer.' I think she took a liking to me, but I lost track of her.)
These days connecting is super-damn easy. You floating turds don’t know how easy it is. I’d have to scope out a site, look in the parking lot for the guy’s car and bumper stickers, talk to some nudge of a secretary. Take people to lunch. Talk to them. All the while I'm trying to memorize the names of his kids while he's throwing back a couple martinis on my account and I'm drinking perri-flippin-aye and sweating through a 10-year-old wool suit. All you people have to do is hit the internet. Google. Facebook.
I’ll show you how to do this.
Let’s say you’re sending your book out to an agent or an editor. Pick one or two, maybe three tops. Before you send your precious jewel off, track down the MyFace page of your target. Oh, she likes Bob Marley songs? Well, damn, Einstein, go grab a Marley quote and slap it up on your wall. Stay away from the pot references, though. Just to be safe.
Now let’s look at your next target. Books. Authors. Run through the list of authors this person likes. Maybe people this author represents. Then track those authors down on MyFace. Send a few of them friend requests. Most authors on MyFace are so competitive that they're just trying to get to 5,000 friends so they can do the old “I’m too popular and must create a FAN PAGE!!” Help them and yourself out at the same time. Friend that jackhole. Then when the editor or agent sees your names together, that’s gotta help. Or just say you like MURDER BY LANTERNLIGHT or whatever crap book your target also likes.
The key is to make connections. Like what your target likes. Unless you’re submitting to a Nickelback fan. Nickelback sucks.
You have to remember, the world is full of books that are just like yours. Oh, I'm sure you're convinced you have a precious flower unlike anyone else's. You know what you share with every other writer out there? The same thought. All writers think their book is the cream and not the turd. They believe in it. Why? Maybe because their friends told them so. Maybe they're in one of those writing groups in which everyone says nice things hoping to have their own works loved. Or maybe it turns out your book really is good. (Hell, I don't know. I haven't read your book. I'm too busy suing Jeremy Thomasson for the crap job he did on my ebook covers.)
So if you want your book to stand out from big pile of slush floating around out there, make a connection with your target. If the editor or agent likes you, they might give your book just a wee bit more attention.
Think about the times you've picked up a book because the author is from your hometown. Or has your first name. Or seemed like your kind of person on that local talk show. You connect with authors, don't you? You'll read the next Lee Child before you know what the plot is, won't you? Stand in line for the next Stephen King? As a reader, you're relying on connecting to these authors. Make sure you use this to your advantage. Connect with the agents and editors. You think Vince Ferragamo got to be the greatest California QB in the 70s without working his butt off? Or Stabler? Oh, you're from San Diego? I meant Dan Fouts. Go Bolts.