- Article: “What Every Author Should Know About Literary Agents” by Bobbi Linkemer
- Article: “Social Media Versus Traditional Book Marketing” by Dan Smith
--Thank you to everyone who visited us at the Self-Publishing Book Expo in New York City last weekend. It was a wonderful show complete with informative panels and helpful exhibitors. We enjoyed learning more about your projects and look forward to the possibility of working with you!
--Dan Smith will be representing Smith Publicity at the PubWest Conference 2011 at the Green Valley Ranch Resort outside of Las Vegas, NV from November 3-5, 2011. If you’re attending and would like to arrange a meeting, please contact us. Otherwise, feel free to stop by our booth! For more information, please visit: http://www.pubwest.org/.
--Smith Publicity is exhibiting at the Miami Book Fair International November 18—20. If you’d like to schedule an appointment to meet with Dan Smith and Sandy Diaz, please let us know. Otherwise, please stop by our booth! For more information, please visit: http://www.miamibookfair.com/.
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What Every Author Should Know About Literary Agents
by Bobbi Linkemer
Many publishers will no longer accept a proposal unless it comes from an agent. While agents don’t guarantee your book will be published, they can ensure that it gets a reading and advocate for you all along the process. You can find the right agent for you if you know where to look. Why use an agent:
An agent …
- will critique your book proposal before it is submitted and make suggestions or edits to help you improve it,
- knows which publishers are likely to be interested in your proposal,
- can garner attention for your proposal and sell it faster than you can,
- is your business representative and, as such, protects your best interests, secures advances, settles contract disputes, collects money, reviews royalty statements, ensures that publishers meet their contractual obligations, and host of other activities,
- is your support system, guide, and cheerleader, which every author needs,
- can bring a new editor up to date on you and your book if that becomes necessary,
- only earns money when he or she sells your book proposal, which is a great motivator, and
- is your closest ally in the publishing process.
How to Find an Agent
Start online by looking up The Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), a not-for-profit organization of qualified literary agents. AAR provides resources to its members and protects the best interests of their clients. AAR agents are obligated to uphold integrity and the highest professional standards in all of their business dealings. Do not consider an agent who does not meet the rigorous standards of the AAR and the National Writers Union (NWU).
Check out on line and print directories. Jeff Herman’s book, Writer’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents, is invaluable. His online directory also lists agents’ e-mail addresses and websites. Writer’s Digest Books Guide to Literary Agents and Literary Market Place (LMP): The Directory of the American Book Publishing Industry are excellent sources and may be all you need.
Hardcover and trade paperback publishers produce catalogs to send to booksellers, libraries, and sales reps, which often include agents’ names and contact information. Browse bookstores shelves in the sections where your book might be. Check the dedication and acknowledgment pages of competitive books to see if the authors have thanked their editors and agents.
Let agents find you by getting your book published or publishing it yourself, then making sure the media knows about it.
And, of course, network, network, network. Go where writers and agents are likely to be, such as writing classes, readings, lectures, seminars, book signings, conferences, and book festivals. Join writers’ organizations, and attend meetings. Talk to people who have been published. Ask if they have used an agent, and don’t hesitate to request referrals. In my experience, writers are generous folks who are more than willing to share such information and support each other.
What do agents want from you?
Agents have different policies about what they want from potential authors. Most agents prefer the initial contact be made in writing. They may want anything from a one-page query letter to an entire manuscript. Check the agent’s policy before making any submission. Obviously, whatever you send should be neat, organized, accurate, and well written. This is your first impression; make it a positive one.
A query letter is a one-page document that must entice the recipient to want to know more about your book. It is by definition concise, so every word must count. Its job, like that of a good resume, is to get you in the door. To do that, it must be informative and inviting — both steak and sizzle. In essence, a query letter is a mini-proposal, an encapsulation of your most salient points on a single piece of paper.
A solid query letter is not something you dash off. It takes a great deal of thought and often many revisions. The agent not only wants to know what your book is about and why you are qualified as the author, but also how well you write. This letter may be the single most important piece of marketing you will do.
How to deal with an agent, once you have one
According to Lori Perkins, author of The Insider’s Guide to Getting an Agent (Writers’ Digest Books), there are ways to treat an agent and ways not to. On the plus side of the ledger are simple courtesies like saying thank you; keeping them posted on developments as they occur; educating yourself about the publishing industry; and, though it should seem obvious, always being completely honest.
On the other hand …
- Don’t expect miracles or the impossible. It’s in everyone’s best interest to sell your book.
- Don’t second-guess their decisions. Agents will do everything possible to make you feel special and to get you a good deal.
- When the deal doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t shoot the messenger.
- Don’t be pushy about money or contracts. Pressure doesn’t speed up the process.
- Don’t expect your agent to teach you to write, advance you money, or act as your attorney, therapist, or publicist.
- Finally, if your agent thinks you need to do more work on your book or proposal, don’t be a prima donna. Ridley Pearson, the best-selling mystery writer, tells a story about a writer he referred to his agent.
- When the agent suggested some changes, the writer took offense and said no. He never got his book published, by the way.
In this age of specialization, literary agents are no exception. Like doctors, they have specific niches. When you do research, begin with your particular genre. There’s no sense sending a query letter or proposal to someone who is not an expert in that area of nonfiction. Narrowing your search will increase your odds of success.
Bobbi Linkemer is a book coach, ghostwriter, editor, and the author of 16 books under her own name. She has been a professional writer for more than 40 years, a magazine editor, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients include Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals who want to write books in order to enhance their credibility or build their businesses. Visit her Website at: www.WriteANonfictionBook.com.
Social Media Versus Traditional Book Marketing
by Dan Smith
Social media, it seems, is everywhere and part of everything. You can’t get away from it even if you try. It’s no different when it comes to book marketing; social media is all the buzz in the publicity trade. Experts will tell authors they must engage in a robust social media program to promote a book, and still others will say that social media is the only way to promote a book effectively.
But let’s slow down and take a brief look at the reality of book publicity and social media.
Social networking is a terrific way to spark grassroots buzz about a book and to establish an online presence that builds a fan base. A coordinated, planned cultivation of your presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and special interest social media platforms can indeed spread the word and spark book sales. As we’ve all heard, authors can even “go viral” and reach that magical tipping point at which it seems everyone knows about their book.
So does this mean “old school” traditional book marketing is a dying art?
To begin the answer to this question, I’ll tell you that: You can’t Tweet credibility, and 5,000 friends on Facebook might actually be worth nothing when it comes to your book. Like life, it depends on who these friends are and how much they really care about you.
Anyone can build a Facebook page and develop a presence on any social media site. There are no gatekeepers. It’s the Wild West where anything goes.
Traditional book publicity via media outreach, on the other hand, is very different. Publicity is all about getting others (media) to think enough of you and/or your book to write about it or put you on the air for an interview. When this happens, an author acquires credibility – the single most important element book promotion. Social media is about making as many people as possible know about your book. Publicity, on the other hand, is about getting people of influence – editors and producers – to take interest in you and your book.
Facebook “friends” are often superficial. We want to show that many people actually like us, and ostensibly really care about what we do, sometimes to the point of reporting the most mundane of activities. Social networking, ultimately, is a supremely narcissistic endeavor (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Publicity is about getting the right people to actually take a true interest in you and your book, and then from their position of influence, tell others about it.
You can see, there’s quite a difference between the two.
But don’t think for a second that I believe social media isn’t a great tool as it relates to book marketing. It is. It can be powerful. It can be very, very effective.
Most importantly, in my view, social networking is the perfect compliment to a promotional campaign. I recommend every author establish a social media platform. Traditional publicity and social media can work amazingly well together. Publicity can get you credibility and provide you with the perfect material to populate your social media sites.
I personally don’t care to read that someone just saw a good movie, or to see mind-numbing motivational phrases posted on FaceBook. I do, however, love to see a link to a TV interview or newspaper article about a person/author in a Tweet or on FaceBook. It makes that person interesting. It makes me possibly want to buy their book.
Social media is certainly here to stay and traditional book publicity isn’t going anywhere – it will always be effective.
Instead of choosing one over the other, bring social media and traditional book publicity together, and you have a perfect promotional marriage.
Now I need to go and post a link to this article on Facebook and send a Tweet out about it …
About Smith Publicity
Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity has evolved from a one-person operation run from a bedroom office to one of the leading promotional firms in the industry. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, we’ve worked with over 1,000 individuals and companies—from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and business— representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international; we’ve effectively worked with clients throughout the United States, Canada, the U.K., and from Australia to Israel and Malta. We have offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto and London.
While our expansion from boutique publicity agency to a multi-faceted public relations firm has greatly expanded the breadth of our services, the fundamental driving force behind everything we do is superior presentation, promotion, and positioning of our clients. Our refrain, “make good things happen for clients,” has propelled Smith Publicity from just another agency to a premier promotional firm offering outstanding, cost-effective service with unparalleled customer attention.
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