"THE END". There itís done.
Now, gazing at those two words, a sparkle twinkles
in your eyes. Youíve plumed yourself on your
skill in creating a "killer novel".
Then, you let out a brief sigh of relief, which
is quickly interrupted by the thought of a perplexing
question. "Should I get an agent or submit my
manuscript directly to publishers of my genre?"
The answer, in reality, is neither because
your work has just begun. Your next effort should
be to create a marketing plan to sell yourself
and that newly created "killer novel" to an
agent or publisher.
And this can only be accomplished if youíre
confident that the manuscript has been professionally
edited and is ready to be submitted. Youíve
spent months or longer carefully concocting
a well-written novel, but how do you sell it
as an unknown writer? Answer: A superb marketing
plan and a marriage, if you will, with an agent
The first paragraph of your novel has a hook
to draw the readerís interest and youíve woven
suspense, drama, action and romance with a splash
of dry humor in perfect sequence throughout
the chapters. The setting of your novel invites
visits to foreign places and the hero gets the
girl and they live happily ever after. Believe
it or not, this is not good enough to sell your
Without convincing an agent or publisher that
you can assist in selling your brilliant work,
itís all been in vain. Agents usually want you
to give them something that they can sell to
a publisher beside a well-crafted manuscript,
and thatís a well-developed explicit marketing
plan, which becomes their tool to grab the interest
of a publisher. Then, the editor uses these
tools presented by the agent to sell the manuscript
to the publishing companyís board members who
actually appropriate the money to publish your
Publishing is a business and its investments
in authors must return a profit or at least
present the opportunity to do so. Usually, this
is the format that makes it happen. Unless your
manuscript falls into a market niche like J.
K. Rawlings, of the fantasy Harry Potter series,
and like her are lucky enough to get an agent
/ promoter to market your work, you probably
wonít become a "rich and famous" writer.
It takes a whole lot more than the love of
writing to become a successful author. The ability
to accept rejection hundreds of times, plus
writing thousands of edited words, are needed
to complete an apprenticeship in the writing
Once you have completed a marketing plan, then
you must put your expertise to work developing
a query letter that will arouse the interest
of an agent or a publisher.
How you present this form of introduction will
give them an idea of your writing skills. This
is assuming youíre not a published author with
Once youíve got their attention they will ask
for a sample of your work. Again, be sure itís
ready to be submitted. Because if it isnít,
a rejection letter will waste that SASE that
you included with your query resulting in having
to start the process all over.
There are plenty of books in your local library
to assist you on how to write a proper query
letter. Itís best to keep a query letter to
one page. Its intention is to spark an interest
in your work, so that its receiver will request
your manuscript. It is not a cover letter,
which is used to accompany a manuscript.
In other words, a query letter is used to sell
your work and a cover letter identifies the
manuscriptís title and you. The less you say
in your cover letter may coax the agent or editor
to read your manuscript.
Please remember when writing a query letter
that it is most important that your lead paragraph
should have a solid impact. Make the beginning
kick start the agentís or editorís juices flowing,
so they wonít lose interest in the rest of your
Lastly, keep focused on your love of writing
because once you begin the process of searching
for an agent, you have entered their world of
"subjectivity". In other words, what tickles
their fancy is most essential to them.
Here are some helpful hints to find an agent
- Attend writerís conferences to network with
other writers/authors. If they are already
published and have an agent, ask them to introduce
you to their agent. Maybe, the agent will
like your work and accept you as a client.
- Join writerís groups. You never know whom
you will meet. They usually have guest speakers,
and here again is where networking becomes
- Enter writerís contests in your genre. They
can be found by typing the words "Writerís
Contests" into any search engine.
- Visit major booksellers (Barnes & Noble,
Books-A-Million, etc.) and see whatís hot
on their shelves. Always try to keep up with
the current readerís market trend.
- Become familiar with agents and publishers
that specialize in your genre. You can do
that by obtaining current copies of Fiction
Writerís Market or The Everything Get
Published Book by Peter Rubie. If you
canít purchase one of these books, the library
has them, plus many other books on the subject.
Here are four basic publishing methods:
- Traditional royalty publishers do
not charge for printing a book, usually extend
an advance payment and pay royalties to authors.
Most major publishing houses generally will
not consider an authorís work that isnít represented
by an agent. Smaller publishers (presses)
will consider manuscripts from authors without
an agent, but vary on extending advances.
The major publishers arrange marketing programs
for their authors. The smaller publishers
(presses) do not have marketing programs,
but there are those who have readerís clubs
and their own online bookstores to sell and
promote their books.
- Subsidy publishers expect the author
to pay the bookís production costs and take
little effort in promoting or marketing a
book. Most subsidy publishers have stringent
editorial standards. They are often confused
with POD (print on demand) publishers. Their
selling hype is usually more than is delivered.
- Vanity publishers can be Internet
publishers, which use text files to produce
a POD (print on demand) book or eBook at little
or no cost to the author. Some even pay small
royalties to authors. Other Vanity publishers
will charge exorbitant fees for a bookís production
and render no assistance in marketing or distribution.
The significant characteristic of these publishers
is that they will publish anything for a buck
and have no publishing ethics. Caution is
advised when doing business with this type
- Self-publishers are authors who incorporate
to produce, market and distribute their own
work. This doesnít mean that they wonít hire
other firms to assist them or handle the printing,
promotion and circulation of the book. This
method is expensive and takes a good deal
of business savvy to accomplish.
I hope all of the aforementioned material will
pave a smoother path on your publishing journey.
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