At a recent meeting of independent writers I met a young women, who told me about an event she wanted to visit: the “path to publishing”. The highlight will be a literary agent who accepts query letters from participating aspiring writers. I asked her why she is querying to publishers. “Do you want to write for glory – to see your book for a couple of weeks in bookstores – or do you want to earn money with your writing?” I admit, a bit provocative. I explained her what she can expect as “published” author including the minimal royalty of only 8-10% what an author gets – compared to 70% (or almost 100% for sales from the authors website).
- Having an established platform and an idea how to brand yourself
- The first book has to be successful from day one! Bookstores give only a couple of weeks for success
- Expect an exclusivity clause in your contract for series / similar topics
- But first of all: Proof the publisher you and your book will be a success
There are some questions that trade publishers and literary agents frequently ask writers before they sign them up. The problem is most writers are caught off guard by these questions and don’t always answer them the way they would’ve liked. So prepare ahead of time!
Why do you want to be published?
Seems like a simple question, right? The agent isn’t just interested in your answer but your attitude. Let’s take a look as how some of your answers COULD be perceived…
Answer #1: I just want to get my story on paper.
Agent’s reaction: Then you don’t need me. If you’re not going to take this seriously and consider writing your new career, I’m not interested.
Answer #2: I want to share my stories with the world.
Agent’s reaction: Why would anyone want to read your stories? What makes you more special than any other writer out there? If you don’t know what’s unique about you and you can’t sell yourself, how am I supposed to?
Answer #3: I want to become a bestseller and make a bundle.
Agent’s reaction: Get real. Do you know how hard it is to become a bestseller? Do you understand how much work is involved? Why do I get the feeling you’re not interested in the writing, just the possible financial benefit. Oh, did I mention you will make next to nothing with your first book and possibly every book after that? If you want to become a millionaire, buy a lottery ticket. Your odds are probably better.
Answer #4: I want to be famous.
Publishers reaction: That’s not going to happen overnight. Are you willing to put in the time and sweat? What if you don’t amount to more than being a mid-lister?
Here are more questions, which could come in many forms:
- What’s your next book about?
- What else are you working on?
- Where do you see this series going?
- What is your blog about?
- How many followers do you have on your Social Media sites?
What Are Publishers / Agents Expecting? They want to know you’re committed, that you understand this journey is hard, long, and not always rewarding. They want you to dream and to set goals, but they need to believe you are willing to work to attain those goals.
Must-Read Blog to learn more about agents and how to approach them
How to Write a Query Letter
Less than Minimum Wage for Authors?
Successful Query Letters
If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars
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Tagged: agent query, How to Write a Query Letter, Literary Agents, Publishing contract, Query Shark, query writing help