In parts 1 & 2 of this series we discussed writing that synopsis or book proposal once your work has been perfected and is ready for a publisher. We then looked at all the publishing options out there to choose from.
In terms of traditional publishing, we discussed how getting an agent would be your first step toward securing a traditional publisher such as one of the 5 major New York conglomerates. Who are these major publishing houses with their endless trickle down divisions?
The top 5 include Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster. Each of those have many ‘specialized’ offshoots such as, for example, St. Martin’s Press – a division of Macmillan – and so on.
There are countless independent presses popping up across the country and generally, they are each specializing in certain genres or printing styles to distinguish themselves and to stay focused on a particular product in order to do it better than anyone else. REALLY specialized independents are also called ‘boutique’ publishers.
How do you get an agent in order to reach any of these old school or new school traditional publishers? You can write a query letter and mail it to as many agents as you can find via the Internet. However, I am not going to cover ‘how to write a query letter’ here, because it is the least likely way that you will find an agent.
Trust me on this.
The best and easiest way by far to get an agent is through writing conferences.
If you have taken the time and money to attend a writing conference, it shows the agents at that conference how you are serious about your writing and have probably done your homework toward understanding and utilizing all the information out there toward writing a publishable (could sell and make a profit) book.
You need to behave as a professional would at any career-oriented conference when attending these writing gigs. Be careful what you say and do, how you look and how you project yourself as a possible published author who would then be representing the publishing house that you are (want to be) under contract to.
ALWAYS remember that if you are going to sell books, you will need to be personable, friendly, outgoing, and put together in a pleasing way for your fans to approach and connect with. These are the things an agent is looking for in you- besides a great read.
Think of it as part 3 of your writing career. Part 1 was realizing that you did not write the great American novel the first time you went crazy with pen and paper.
Part 2 is writing what might be the great American novel after soliciting lots of oral (critique groups, etc.) and written ( ‘how to’ books and social media articles, etc.) help to improve your skills since the first time around. Part 3 is finding someone (trained to recognize this) who agrees with you.
Part 4 is how to transition into being a published author and part 5, well part 5 is maintaining authorship so that you don’t slip back down into part 3 because your books aren’t selling and your publisher has dropped you.
How do you avoid that not-selling-books part you ask? Another great question, which leads to your new buzz phrase once you have decided you wish to play this game and play it well. These are 2 words you should wake up to every morning. I strongly suggest that you tape them to your refrigerator.
Unless your name is JK Rowling, or a small handful of other best selling authors where your author platform magically appears simply by being the best at what you do and selling so many books it’s impossible to FAIL at ‘author platform’ you will need to focus on it as much as you do your writing.
Let’s just say it helps to be good at multitasking.
And don’t think you can ignore this buzzword until that beautiful first book shows up on bookshelves. Having a blog following and strong social media presence is required upfront, meaning that one of the first questions an agent will ask you after deciding that you can actually write is… tell me about your fan base as a writer.
If you don’t have a fan base already started, it could be a deal breaker.
Whatever happened to the craft standing on its own merit? The answer to that is another blog series. So, let’s focus on this blog series for now…. and on what YOU need to do in order to create that all-important readership…. UPFRONT.
Stay tuned for part 4…
Kathryn’s next novel, Journey, will be released September, 2015 by Winter Goose Publishing
Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE