* Hey, Bestsellers. As promised, this week’s videos focuses on the traditional path to publishing. Last week, we talked about the steps to take to self-publish your manuscript; I’ll link to that in the description below. Now, I’m going to explore how to get a publisher to do all this work for you. Most to the time, this starts with finding a literary agent.
* When going from manuscript to bestselling book, Step one and Step two are the same regardless of the path you choose. You need to finish writing your book including drafts. That’s number 1. Second, you recruit beta readers to critique your book. Okay, so we’ve covered that in previous videos.
* This is where the path forks. If you are going after a publishing contract, the third step is to seek representation, aka, a literary agent. This involves querying, and in the case of nonfiction, a proposal. Again, I’ve covered pitches and proposals in other videos and I’ll drop links to those below. Today, I will address why you need an agent and how to find the right one.
* The first reason is connections. Agents are in the business of knowing the right people. Specifically, the right editor and the right publisher for your book. Agents have specialties. If you choose the right the agent, they know if there is a market for your book, which publishers will be interested in it, and which editor at these publishing houses will make your work shine.
* Now, as I’ve mentioned before, you can hire an excellent editor directly. But the way the editing process works inside a large publisher is different in terms of control and thoroughness. This can be for better or worse. The worse part I’m referring to is that you might lose creative control of your book. Depending on your contract, your publisher could decide to have an editor rewrite your whole story to boost sales. Be aware that they can do that; they essentially own your book. This is not a negative for all writers, but if losing control of your story sounds like a nightmare, make sure your contract stipulates that you have the final say on all revisions.
* This leads to the next set of skills a good agent needs. This is contractual and legal expertise. When a publisher or multiple publishers shows interest in buying your book, your agent will facilitate the deal to your specification. When multiple publishers are interested, it’s time to celebrate because that’s when a bidding war starts. Your agent will drive up the price and recommend which offer you should take. The contacts, the bidding wars, and your rights as an intellectual property owner are complex and perilous, so, even though an agent might seem like a middleman, you really DO need one if you’re dealing with the Big 5.
* It’s important to note that an agent will try to get you the best deal possible. This might sound altruistic, and to a certain extent it is, but agents work on a percentage so the better deal they get for you is a better deal for them.
* All of this back and forth preparation to market your book and negotiating contracts means that you and your agent will be working very, very closely together. It’s very important for your career, and your sanity, that you chose an agent that you like and that understands your work.
* Okay, I know what you’re thinking, it’s nearly impossible to find ONE interested agent much less picking from several. But what I really mean is, query agents that are suitable to represent your work. Agents have specialties, so who you pitch is important.
* Okay, so what should you look for? First, as I mentioned, query agents that specialize in your genre or book category. Look for someone with experience. You’re paying for connections, so make sure your agent, or at least they agency they work for, is in deep with the right people. Also, make sure that the really love your book. They probably won’t ask to represent you if they don’t like your book but you want them to be very enthused about what they are selling. Last note, in traditional publishing, agents do not charge for there services up front. If they ask for money to represent you, they aren’t legit.
* Now don’t confuse what I’m saying with the self-publishing process. If you’re publishing direct, you do pay for services as you need them. This includes things like editing, production, and marketing.
* Okay, so how do you find an agent? The Writers Market is a good place to start. This is the industry guide to professional writing opportunities. In particular, the Guide to Literary Agents will be the most useful edition. This volume of the Writer’s Market lists more than 1,000 agents, what they are looking for, and if they are accepting new clients.
* Next, look for agents in the media or at conferences. Find videos, article, or interviews. Even better, if there is a writers conference where agents are speaking, go. You might have the opportunity to pitch in person. Looking agents in the press or at live events gives you the added advantage to getting to know the agent personality and style. It also gives you a point of introduction. It helps to open a pitch with how your found or met who you are approaching. Remember, ideally, you want to like, or at least be able to work well with your agent.
* Another very good method for finding an agent is to ask everyone you know. This works to your advantage in two ways. It’s a form of marketing because you’re letting your network know that your book will be released in the next year or so. It’s also the most effective way to find an agent that really suits you. Friends like to help friends, and the recommendation they give you will be thoughtful and custom to you. Email everyone in your address book. Post to your personal and business pages on all social media networks. Also, post to any social media writers groups that you belong to.
* Last but not least, look through the acknowledgments of your favorite books. More often than not, authors will thank their agents, especially if they are happy with their agent’s work. If you don’t want to buy a bunch of books for this information, take a trip to the library. It’s never a bad idea for an author to visit the library. We need to stay close to our root. allright. That’s it. Good luck.
* Thanks for watching.
* Don’t forget to subscribe. See you next week, Bestseller!