Marketing strategies for writing follow industry defined methodology.
The more aggressively a writer markets her work, the more likely
she is to succeed in publishing. The more closely she defines
her market, the greater her chance to address her intended audience.
Authors often quip that it is more difficult to find an agent
than it is to find a publisher. This is not true. However, it
is the agent's function to match the manuscript with the most
receptive publisher, therefore the author is less directly involved
in that process.
This is not to say that it is simple to find an agent. Agents
reject about 98% of the opportunities presented to them, whether
through query letters, partial and complete submissions or nonfiction
book proposals. An agent's income is derived primarily through
sales and his reputation suffers if he does not consistently provide
marketable material to the publishers. Nonetheless, no matter
how successful the agent, there are only so many titles published
per year, and many worthy manuscripts just don't make it to press.
This is especially true of works by unpublished authors, and for
nonfiction in saturated categories. Thus many titles are agented
but never achieve publication.
We've all noticed that certain books are poorly written and yet
they sell well. What does this say about the author? Not that
he writes well, but that he markets well. As in any other marketable
product, the packaging more than the content attracts the attention
of the consumer. Therefore it's the author's ability to create
viable packaging for his product that furthers its marketability.
Crisp business-like queries are the first knock on the door to
Think of your query as a sales brochure. Your hard copy is an
agent's first introduction to a potential gold mine. Do your homework
and make every word count. No query letter should exceed a single
page. It should be error free, single-spaced and printed clearly.
Make it personalized. If you have networked with other authors,
ask them for referrals. If your work is similar to someone who
publishes successfully, send a query to their agent. (Look for
an author's earliest works - an agent is often the first person
a new author thanks in the acknowledgments.) Agents like to have
their egos stroked. A compliment on their success in marketing
so-and-so's material never hurts. It shows that you specifically
A query should contain a brief synopsis of the material, a paragraph
explicating your specific market, and a two-sentence biography
including other work published. If you lack a direct referral,
you might compare your work to that of a successful author of
your genre, but don't overstate it. Finally, always include a
Agents generally respond to queries in four to eight weeks. Unless
the agent specifically states otherwise, multiple agents may be
solicited. The query procedure can take many months. Agents make
multiple submissions to publishers, and understand that authors
too use similar strategies. Some agents do request exclusive readings.
If so, the author may impose a reasonable time frame - perhaps
a month for a non-fiction proposal and six to eight weeks for
a full manuscript.
Next issue's column, bs"d, will review strategies for finding
the right agent for your particular material, what an author can
expect from an agent, and how to determine a bona fide agent from
the numerous fly-by-nights who prey on new and inexperienced authors.
of first part.
CONTINUE TO PART TWO
Avriel Adler is a published author of religious mystery novels.
She is an instructor at The Jewish Writing Institute.
© 2009 by Jewish Writing Institute. All rights reserved.
Copyright to individual articles held by authors.