Authors: How to Sign a Top Literary Agent

By Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications

 

Time to Get an AgentLanding an agent for many authors is the most sought after goal. Why? It’s been long considered the fastest and most profitable path to publishing success. If that is your goal then you’ll want to check out these tips, techniques and resources to help you land the quality literary agent you are seeking.

Where to begin?

Get up to speed with the latest information with books and resources on the topic. According to Jeff Herman, book agent and author of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, authors should assess potential agents on the following points before sealing a deal:

  1. The list of books the agent has sold to publishers, including the publishers’ and authors’ names.
  2. The agent’s reputation online.
  3. Why s/he likes your book and how s/he plans to market your book, with reference to a timeline and how much you’ll potentially earn.

Note that real agents do not:

  1. Charge upfront fees
  2. Offer to edit for a fee
  3. Sell adjunct services to their clients
  4. Submit books to vanity or non-advance paying publishers

The critical step in the process is to research agents before you submit to them. Avoid agents who charge fees other than the standard 15 percent commission they receive on everything you get paid (your advance and royalties).

Narrow Your Search

Publishers Marketplace is one of the best places to research literary agents. Buy a subscription for $25 and access a wealth of information about publishing. With hundreds of agents hosting web pages, Publishers Marketplace is arguably the largest and most comprehensive repository to find info on top literary agencies. In fact, Publishers Marketplace claims to have “more e-mail and other contact information on more agents than any other source, updated daily.”

Member authors can create their own Publishers Marketplace web page and indicate they are seeking an agent, which advertises you to agent and publishers.

An added bonus to PublishersMarketplace.com is the deals database, which includes the actual dollar figure of the advances paid to authors for many books. The daily updates provide essential information and searches reveal editors’ buying patterns and more. The site also hosts a contact database that tracks editors on the move. Find out more here: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/benefits.shtml

Other resources to consider include:

  1. Manuscript Wish List visit: http://mswishlist.com/
  2. AgentQuery.com
  3. QueryTracker.net
  4. WritersMarket.com
  5. Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents 2017

Social media is also a powerful tool to locate agents. Search social media for associations of agents— there are plenty. Michael Larsen, literary agent, suggests authors check out the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) http://www.aaronline.org/ as an outlet for finding quality agents. According to Larsen, “The 450 agents in AAR are the best source of experienced, reputable agents. Members are required to follow the AAR’s code of ethics.”

Another resource for finding agents is simply the acknowledgments section in books similar to what you envision your own book to be. Read the acknowledgments and collect the names of those agents mentioned and contact them directly.

Don’t be shy— Have a presence.

Share your personal brand with the world, both online and in person. It’s wise to create professional social media accounts, an online work portfolio or blog. According to Michael Larsen, “Let agents find you- be visible online and off, get published and give talks, publicize your work and yourself. When you’re visible enough, agents will find you.”  This strategy worked for Andy Weir, author of The Martian. After selling 35,000 ebooks for $.99 and topping Amazon’s Sci-Fi Bestseller List, an agent contacted Weir and he was soon represented by Random House for a book deal. On top of that FOX contacted him for the film rights of his novel. The rest is history.

A popular networking strategy is to attend writers’ conferences. Particularly for first-time authors, there’s no better way to get to an agent than at a conference. Agents typically won’t sign authors on the spot, but accept their advice and remember that networking is pivotal to a successful career. According to Chip MacGregor, literary agent and author of Ask the Agent, “I love writers’ conferences. Don’t go thinking you’re going to land an agent; just plan to meet people and learn a lot.”  Where are the best conferences? Here’s a list I’ve compiled of upcoming writer’s conferences. http://bit.ly/Writer_Conferences

Make It Perfect. Practice Proper Etiquette

“Nothing detracts from good writing like bad editing,” says Debra Englander an experienced non-fiction editor and writer. “Submit your best work. Have it copy edited and proofread by a professional. Don’t ruin a potential relationship with an agent because of mistakes.”  Englander served as editorial director at John Wiley Publishing for nearly 17 years and was on the receiving end of thousands of pitches from agents and authors. She currently works with authors on creating winning book proposals and editing manuscripts.

Also, research an agent before you submit to them and check the agent’s guidelines before packaging and submitting your work. Before you commit to an agent, settle any unfinished business with others still considering your work. Just make it clear that you have an offer that requires an immediate decision.

If you think you’re ready to be placed with an agent, consider the direction your writing career is headed. According to Chuck Sambuchino, author of the Guide to Literary Agents, “Most agents say they’re looking to represent careers, not books.”

Bottom Line: Agents can land you the deal you could never obtain yourself. But the pursuit of an agent can take months and years. If you still want an agent then study up and do it now!

About Scott Lorenz
Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous startups, iPhone app developers, authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Visit: http://www.Book-Marketing-Expert.com

Authors: How to Sign a Top Literary Agent

By Scott Lorenz of Westwind Communications

 

Time to Get an AgentLanding an agent for many authors is the most sought after goal. Why? It’s been long considered the fastest and most profitable path to publishing success. If that is your goal then you’ll want to check out these tips, techniques and resources to help you land the quality literary agent you are seeking.

Where to begin?

Get up to speed with the latest information with books and resources on the topic. According to Jeff Herman, book agent and author of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, authors should assess potential agents on the following points before sealing a deal:

  1. The list of books the agent has sold to publishers, including the publishers’ and authors’ names.
  2. The agent’s reputation online.
  3. Why s/he likes your book and how s/he plans to market your book, with reference to a timeline and how much you’ll potentially earn.

Note that real agents do not:

  1. Charge upfront fees
  2. Offer to edit for a fee
  3. Sell adjunct services to their clients
  4. Submit books to vanity or non-advance paying publishers

The critical step in the process is to research agents before you submit to them. Avoid agents who charge fees other than the standard 15 percent commission they receive on everything you get paid (your advance and royalties).

Narrow Your Search

Publishers Marketplace is one of the best places to research literary agents. Buy a subscription for $25 and access a wealth of information about publishing. With hundreds of agents hosting web pages, Publishers Marketplace is arguably the largest and most comprehensive repository to find info on top literary agencies. In fact, Publishers Marketplace claims to have “more e-mail and other contact information on more agents than any other source, updated daily.”

Member authors can create their own Publishers Marketplace web page and indicate they are seeking an agent, which advertises you to agent and publishers.

An added bonus to PublishersMarketplace.com is the deals database, which includes the actual dollar figure of the advances paid to authors for many books. The daily updates provide essential information and searches reveal editors’ buying patterns and more. The site also hosts a contact database that tracks editors on the move. Find out more here: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/benefits.shtml

Other resources to consider include:

  1. Manuscript Wish List visit: http://mswishlist.com/
  2. AgentQuery.com
  3. QueryTracker.net
  4. WritersMarket.com
  5. Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents 2017

Social media is also a powerful tool to locate agents. Search social media for associations of agents— there are plenty. Michael Larsen, literary agent, suggests authors check out the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) http://www.aaronline.org/ as an outlet for finding quality agents. According to Larsen, “The 450 agents in AAR are the best source of experienced, reputable agents. Members are required to follow the AAR’s code of ethics.”

Another resource for finding agents is simply the acknowledgments section in books similar to what you envision your own book to be. Read the acknowledgments and collect the names of those agents mentioned and contact them directly.

Don’t be shy— Have a presence.

Share your personal brand with the world, both online and in person. It’s wise to create professional social media accounts, an online work portfolio or blog. According to Michael Larsen, “Let agents find you- be visible online and off, get published and give talks, publicize your work and yourself. When you’re visible enough, agents will find you.”  This strategy worked for Andy Weir, author of The Martian. After selling 35,000 ebooks for $.99 and topping Amazon’s Sci-Fi Bestseller List, an agent contacted Weir and he was soon represented by Random House for a book deal. On top of that FOX contacted him for the film rights of his novel. The rest is history.

A popular networking strategy is to attend writers’ conferences. Particularly for first-time authors, there’s no better way to get to an agent than at a conference. Agents typically won’t sign authors on the spot, but accept their advice and remember that networking is pivotal to a successful career. According to Chip MacGregor, literary agent and author of Ask the Agent, “I love writers’ conferences. Don’t go thinking you’re going to land an agent; just plan to meet people and learn a lot.”  Where are the best conferences? Here’s a list I’ve compiled of upcoming writer’s conferences. http://bit.ly/Writer_Conferences

Make It Perfect. Practice Proper Etiquette

“Nothing detracts from good writing like bad editing,” says Debra Englander an experienced non-fiction editor and writer. “Submit your best work. Have it copy edited and proofread by a professional. Don’t ruin a potential relationship with an agent because of mistakes.”  Englander served as editorial director at John Wiley Publishing for nearly 17 years and was on the receiving end of thousands of pitches from agents and authors. She currently works with authors on creating winning book proposals and editing manuscripts.

Also, research an agent before you submit to them and check the agent’s guidelines before packaging and submitting your work. Before you commit to an agent, settle any unfinished business with others still considering your work. Just make it clear that you have an offer that requires an immediate decision.

If you think you’re ready to be placed with an agent, consider the direction your writing career is headed. According to Chuck Sambuchino, author of the Guide to Literary Agents, “Most agents say they’re looking to represent careers, not books.”

Bottom Line: Agents can land you the deal you could never obtain yourself. But the pursuit of an agent can take months and years. If you still want an agent then study up and do it now!

About Scott Lorenz

Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous startups, iPhone app developers, authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Visit: http://www.Book-Marketing-Expert.com

Writers’ Conferences Put Authors on the Road to Success

Writers' Conferences ListWriters Love to Help Fellow Writers – What Better Way to Meet Them Than a Writer’s Conference?

There are several good reasons why writers should invest the time and effort required to attend writers’ conferences.

Attending a writers’ conference only takes a few hours or days at the most, a few bucks, and a little effort to register and arrange travel and lodging, but the payoff can be big.

If the book you are working on is almost finished, attending a writers’ conference gives you a great chance to network with other authors, pitch your book, learn about the major publishing houses, meet book editors and book marketing specialists. If your book is six months or a year from being finished, you can meet people who will give you ideas on shaping your book and give other advice to help you wrap up when you return home.

Or maybe you have been working on your book for a few months and are feeling unsure about whether you really can be a published author. Attending a conference is a good way to get a reality check from book editors or literary agents who can give you a professional opinion on your plot and characters and help you determine whether you are on the right track.

Most important, attending a writers’ conference provides you with a great opportunity to learn about the publishing business by purposeful interaction with insiders.  Some conferences offer  an opportunity to get honest and helpful professional assessments from book editors that will be more than worth the cost and effort of attending the conference.

Of course, you will want to prepare for any writers’ conference you attend by having a plan of what you want to find out and what you will do while there. You will want to develop an elevator speech pitch of your book that you can deliver in one minute. Have handouts available such as promotional bookmarks or book covers, or a one-page written pitch with website URL, email, and one paragraph book summary.

Now that you are ready, here are some writers’ conferences in the coming weeks and months you should consider attending:

October 2-7, 2014

http://staugustinewritersconference.com/

March 14, 2014

http://www.unicornwritersconference.com/Pages/home.html

 

Bottom Line:  Attend a writers conference of interest to you and be prepared to enjoy the benefits of meeting other writers, acquiring knowledge you can use immediately, learn about different genres, find a new market for your book, elevate your professional effectiveness, meet editors, agents and publishers, become inspired and return home energized.

Hopefully we will meet at whatever writers’ conference you select because although I have been in the book promotion business for many years I still can’t pass up the opportunity to attend a good writers’ conference. See you there!

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com  or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist

How Amanda Hocking REALLY Did It- An Inspiration for All Authors

 

Amanda Hocking, as I’m sure you know, is a best-selling e-author on Amazon.com. Since uploading her first e-book in the spring of 2010, she has grossed about $2 million. She’s got 10 novels under her belt, all of which fall into the paranormal-romance category. The prominent entertainment company, Media Rights Capital, optioned her four-book vampire series “Trylle”.

Clearly, she’s had great success self-publishing her e-books. So, it was a surprise when Hocking decided to sign with St. Martin’s Press, which is a very established publishing house. Amanda Hocking 1

Hocking has openly explained that she suffered from depression for the vast majority of her life and turned to writing as a sort of escape. She finished her first novel at 17, titled “Dreams I Can’t Remember” and was turned down by each of the 50 agents to whom she’d sent her work. Not long thereafter, she caught a clip on YouTube of the band Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus encouraging American youth to make their dreams come true. Hocking admits having a sort of “aha” moment and realized that she could not wait for her dreams to come true. She had to put forth the effort and make them come true.

In 2009, Hocking began to treat writing as a job rather than something she did for entertainment. She wrote a few more novels, sent them off to agents, and still received only rejections. In April 2010, Hocking uploaded her novel “My Blood Approves” to Amazon, then later to Smashwords, then directly on Barnes & Noble’s site. Hocking started selling books, first a few a day, then as she uploaded more of her work, she managed to sell 26 books in one day in May. These days, the author is selling 9,000 books a day.

Just how did she do it? Well, the stories she writes are an obvious piece of her success. Her novels combine action and romance with a dash of quirk and topped off by Hocking’s creative style of writing. Additionally, by selling e-books, Hocking was able to sell the books for far less money compared to a traditional bookstore book. Therefore, people were more inclined to spend the 99 cents or $3.00 to read her work instead of dropping upwards of $15.00 for a book off the shelf of a trendy bookstore. Hocking has a very blasé attitude in regard to her success and rapid writing. When asked just how she manages to complete her work so quickly, Hocking responds on her blog, “I don’t know. I just write a lot and drink a lot of Red Bull.”

Hocking also suggests that writing paired with reading more than she writes, was instrumental in her success. She made sure to edit her novels a great deal in order to get them just right. Learning to take criticism was useful to Hocking’s success because she was able to understand that although her books weren’t for everyone, they did have an audience.

Taking a look at her blog, Hocking describes herself as an, “Obsessive tweeter. John Hughes mourner. Batman devotee. Muppet activist. Unicorn enthusiast. Fraggin Aardvarks guitarist. Author of the USA Today Bestselling Trylle Trilogy & the upcoming Watersong series.” She actively updates her blog, so her fans always have something new to read. This past October was Hocking’s second annual “Zombiepalooza!” on her blog, which ran for the entire month of October. Hocking explains that while she especially enjoys zombies, Zombiepalooza is really a celebration of all things horror and Halloween. Throughout the month, there were guest posts, giveaways, and other fun goodies, such as the “ultimate Halloween Playlist.”

John Kremer recently mentioned Amanda Hocking in a seminar about blog tours. Amanda Hocking inspired him to name a particular type of blog tour a Blogpalooza. John got the name from Hocking, after her first Zombiepalooza in October 2010. In his seminar, John also explained a few of Amanda’s stats, which were affected dramatically by Zombiepalooza. Before Zombiepalooza, Amanda had been selling about 3,000-5,000 copies of Kindle eBooks each month. She sold about 20,000 total before October 2010. In December 2010, after Zombiepalooza, she sold 100,000 copies in the month of December alone. In January, she sold 450,000 copies of her Kindle eBook novels.

In February of 2011, she made the USA Today best-seller list. By the end of February, she had sold 900,000 copies of self-published Kindle eBooks. In March 2011, her book sales totaled over 1 million copies, and she subsequently sold the rights to four of her books to St. Martin’s Press for $2 million. Some were surprised by her decision to sell her book rights, but Hocking has explained that in order to be a billion-dollar author, she needs people to buy her books at Wal-Mart. In order to get her books onto shelves, she had to partner with St. Martin’s Press.

Says Hocking, “I’m a writer. I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full time corporation. I am spending so much time on things that are not writing.”

“I like writing. I even like marketing, especially when it comes to interacting with readers. And I don’t mind editing. I just don’t want to run my corporation, because that takes away from writing and everything else that I actually enjoy doing,” concludes Hocking.

After gaining so much success, Amanda has been able to seize unique opportunities. For example, she was a featured speaker at Comic Con in San Diego. Additionally, she was able to buy a life-size Han Solo figure from Star Wars, which was encased in carbonite. The life-size figure is rare and was something Hocking had her eye on for quite some time. The unique purchase was due in great part to the success of her Zombiepalooza.

The way Hocking executed Zombiepalooza is what earned her such success. She invited people to guest-post on her website, offer free copies of their books, and contribute stories to her blog. Simply put, she asked people to come to her blog and blog. Those guest bloggers, in turn, brought their fan clubs to Amanda’s website, earning Amanda’s work more exposure and causing her to gain even more fans. Zombiepalooza was an event blog tour that really got people talking and excited about the event, making it extremely effective.

In addition to her own blog, Hocking has separate blogs for her book Virtue, My Blood Approves, The Hollows series, as well as a blog dedicated to soundtracks for her various books. Hocking follows dozens of blogs herself. Having been blogging since April 2009, Hocking has had nearly 2 million page views. Check out Amanda’s blog to learn more about her, her work, and to see release dates of her upcoming books at AmandaHocking.blogspot.com or her facebook fan page.

The bottom line: Amanda Hocking is an incredibly talented author. She has achieved great success in her career, largely due to marketing her novels so effectively. Amanda began writing e-books and now has a multimillion dollar book deal. Her talent for both writing and knowing how to market her books has enabled her to become a wildly successful author. Amanda Hocking has helped pave the way for authors to follow in her footsteps without the traditional ‘gatekeepers’ of publishing being involved.

Authors: Hire An Agent’s ‘Agent’ to Sell Your Book

Landing an agent for your book is more difficult now than ever before. You have to know exactly what to say and how to say it in your query letter to beat out your competition and to increase your chances of ever getting signed.

As a professional book publicist, (www.book-marketing-expert.com) I am frequently asked to find an agent for my clients. While I know many agents and Jeff Riverapublishers and work with them, it’s not what I do. But, from time to time, I find someone who can really help out my clients and I’ve found that person. His name is Jeff Rivera, founder of Gumbo Writers based in New York City.

Rivera has been featured or mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, New York Observer, Fast Company, TMZ, NPR, Billboard Magazine, Huffington Post, and many other publications. Rivera interviews high profile power players such as Janet Evanovich, Jeff Kinney, Seth Godwin, Philippa Gregory and James Patterson for Mediabistro’s “Galley Cat” considered the publishing world’s TMZ.

Jeff’s query writing service is the #1 service of its kind. He crafts the perfect query letter for you, then selects the right literary agents to pitch to and sends the query out to them. Jeff guarantees at least 10 top agents will request your manuscript or book proposal. Jeff says this has worked successfully for more than 100 clients. That’s remarkable when you think that many writers cannot get even one literary agent to request their work, let alone read it. His record is over 200 agents requesting one client’s work. For one of my clients he got 19 requests. I was astounded and so was my client.

“Most aspiring writers have shot their chances of ever being represented by a literary agent before the agent has even had a chance to read their query letter,” explains Rivera. “Why? Because agents and people like me who work in the book publishing industry, know in two-seconds flat who is professional and who is not, just by a simple glance at their query letter.”
Rivera, who has ghost written countless successful query letters for clients, stresses that first impressions are everything and that there are a few common mistakes aspiring writers make over and over again that block them from being taken seriously. “It’s really unfortunate because there are some very talented writers out there but writing a query letter is a whole other art,” adds Rivera.

As a book publicist and book marketing expert who deals daily with the media, I learned a long time ago that a common mistake in crafting pitch letters is making them too long. The same is true of query letters to an agent. A query letter should be no more than half a page. You have to know exactly what agents want to hear, what they’re looking for. Tell them only that and end the letter right there! Keep it short, keep it sweet and you’ll be one step closer to landing an agent.

The next key to a successful pitch letter to the media and a successful query letter to an agent is the first sentence. Here are some ways to grab an agent’s attention in the very first sentence:
• Start with a question that makes them ponder
• Talk about a dramatic moment in your personal life that connects with the book you’ve written
• Tell them immediately about your platform
• Compliment them on a specific recent sale
• Tell them who referred you

Remember that referrals are an aspiring author’s best friend. If you can find someone the literary agent knows to recommend you, or at least someone who will allow you to use their name in an introduction, you’ll be ten steps ahead of everyone else. When someone else refers you or recommends you to an agent, you are brought in at that same level. You don’t start from ground zero, like all the other aspiring authors, but begin on a whole other plane. Always, always, always get the person’s permission to use their name before you mention them. And because you’ve gotten their permission your referral person also may even be kind enough to give the literary agent a call or email to let them know that you’ll be reaching out to them.

Remember that agents are in the business of selling books. They’re not our best friends, they’re not our therapists, and they’re not our life coaches. The best agents put their nose to the ground, they focus on what they do best which is generating enough excitement on a book and sell it for as high a price as possible. When you get paid, they get paid. End of story.
One novelist hired Rivera who wrote one sentence about what the novel was actually about. “Don’t you think we should tell them more about it?” the client asked. Rivera told him, “Who cares what it’s about? You’re a regular guest on Fox News.”

A book agent or book publicist can turn your manuscript into a best seller – if you listen carefully and follow their advice. You know how to write – they know how to sell your book.
The bottom line: Why reinvent the wheel? Sign up with an “agent’s agent” like Jeff Rivera by dropping him a note at query@gumbowriters.com and then listen to his advice.

About Jeff Rivera
Jeff Rivera and his work have been featured by National Public Radio (NPR),Los Angeles Times, Fast Company, New York Observer, The Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, Mediabistro, Huffington Post, SethGodin.com, Forbes.com, Billboard.com, TMZ and many other outlets. Rivera interviews high profile power players such as Janet Evanovich, Jeff Kinney, Seth Godwin, Philippa Gregory and James Patters for Mediabistro’s “Galley Cat.” Contact Jeff at: query@gumbowriters.com