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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Q & A: "Are Simultaneous Submissions to Agents Acceptable?"

A new writer asked me if it was okay to send her book proposal to two different agents at the same time. I thought I knew the answer, but wanted to double check with agent extraordinaire Karen Hardin, President of PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency

I loved Karen's answer...

Question: Is it acceptable to submit queries to several literary agents at the same time?

Answer: Yes, as long as you let the agents know it is a simultaneous submission. Same courtesy we would give a publisher. I think all you need to do in the cover letter at the end is say, “I am very interested in obtaining a literary agent at this stage and as a result I wanted you to be aware that this is a simultaneous submission to other agents.” And then thank them for their time.

I think we all understand that this is a competitive industry and who wants to wait 6-8 weeks per agent just to start over again?

Q: And why is it problematic to query multiple agents simultaneously?

I get frustrated if it has taken me a few weeks to be able to review the proposal (not uncommon) only to find they have gone a different direction and didn’t communicate that with me. This becomes a mark against the author because I’ve invested my time to analyze on their behalf and it was a complete waste. I do keep names of those people that I won’t consider them in the future if they come back as they have told me what kind of team player they would be.

Karen Hardin
President of PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency
Over 25 year’s experience in the publishing industry

Thank you to Karen for this really helpful info!

*Stay tuned for Karen's savvy advice to writers who are building their platforms! It's golden.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

4 Things You Can't Not Know Before You Self-Publish

Whenever I have a client who’s self-publishing, especially those who are just dipping their toe into the world of publishing for the first time, there is a host of information I want them to know. I can’t communicate all of it, but here’s what you can’t not know:

1.    Editing Process
When a contracted manuscript is submitted to a traditional publisher, the process will typically involve:
·      One or two rounds of developmental editing
·      A round of copy editing
·      Several meticulous rounds of proofreading, looking for the tiniest errors: an extra space after a period, a “zero” that’s really a capital “O,” or a “there” instead of a “their.”
Readers have been trained to expect an error-free product, and even a few errors can cause the reader to lose confidence in the book, and set it down. While this rigorous level of precision isn’t always possible when self-publishing, your readers will be best-served if you put this important work into your book up front.

2.    Book Cover
Whether readers will be browsing through a bookstore, scrolling through thumbnail images on Amazon, or buying from a merch table, the cover matters. It both signals what’s inside and whether what’s inside has value for the reader. Even if you have the technical skills to create a cover using your photo editing software, don’t. Resist the urge. There are tried and true principles relating to images, colors, font styles, and font sizes that make for great covers. Let a professional design the cover of your book.

3.    Book Design
Have you ever noticed that the inside of a traditionally published book, all the pages of content, have been designed? Care and attention have been given to the precise measurements of margins, as well as the size and shape of fonts in the text, chapter titles, headers and subheads. None of this is accidental. Each choice was made to serve the book and serve the reader. Although certain independent publishing options might aid you with book design, it’s up to you to ensure that nothing about the design creates a barrier to a reader reading your book.

4.    Books Are Hard to Sell
Before you sink your own dollars into publishing a book, have a plan for how you will market and distribute the book to your target audience. Don’t just throw it up at Amazon with millions of other books and hope for the best. You’ve been warned.

The purpose of your book is to serve the reader, and a well-written book with a sharp design does that. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

I am for you,

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Before You Release Your Words Into the World...

If you're writing a book you hope to see published, your words must serve the reader.
  • Maybe it's a memoir.
  • Maybe it's self-help book.
  • Maybe it's the story of a remarkable relationship.
  • Maybe it's tips about gardening.

No matter what you are writing, it has to have value for the reader.

So before you send your proposal or manuscript to an agent or editor (or before you send it to me to review!) imagine that the agent/editor/publisher will be reading your words with one question in her heart: What's in it for the reader?

Questions I want you to ask, of your proposal/manuscript, before you release your words into the wild...
  • What is the value, for the reader, in this book?
  • When she finishes the first chapter, does she want to keep reading?
  • When she's really tired, is there a reason for her to keep turning pages?
  • Does every sentence, every page, every chapter serve the reader?
  • When she finishes, can she articulate the single important takeaway of the book?
  • When the reader sets this book down, has she gained something from it that she wants to share with a friend over coffee?
  • Does she want to buy a copy for her sister because the book had so much value?
  • ls she able to apply what she's learned to her own life?
If the answer to some of these questions is either "no" or "I don't know," I want you to return to your word-baby and review it one more time through the spectacles of an agent or editor. Name the value--write it out--that the reader gleans from each chapter.

If you can't identify the takeaway value for the reader--the "payoff" for purchasing your book--then work at it until you can.

Ultimately, "your" book is not about you. It's about the reader.

Serve the reader.

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