Agents

Book Launch Secrets – Free Webinar, April 6

Each year Thomas Umstattd, Jr. and I make this presentation. An email also went out last week to those who are a part of The Christian Writers Institute. So pardon me if this post feels like a repeat. There are already more than 400 registered for this webinar! I don’t want you to miss out.

The first 30 days your book is for sale sets the tone for the lifetime of your book. Many physical stores stock new releases for fewer than 90 days. If they don’t sell, they return them to the publisher. If they sell out, the bookstores order more. Without a good launch, a book can die before it ever gets a chance to get readers. Don’t let that happen to you!

With more than 3,000 new books published every week–yes, every week–it is easy for your book to get lost in the noise. One of the best ways to break through is with an effective book-launch campaign.

But how do you launch a book? What is a book launch? Isn’t that the publisher’s job?

That is what Thomas Umstattd, Jr. and I will talk about in a free webinar this Wednesday, April 6, at 4 p.m. (central time)–two days from now. He will discuss several secrets about successful book launches, as well as share some tips on how you can have a solid launch with yours. A part of the presentation will be an encouragement to sign up for his month-long course. I highly recommend it. Register, so we can send you a reminder before it begins. Sign up now.

The first 45-60 minutes will be Thomas’s presentation, then I will join him to answer your questions in a Q&A session.

Hopefully, you’ll want to dig deeper and sign up for his 28-day Book Launch Blueprint course, co-taught with James Rubart. The price of that course includes nearly $500 worth of free resources. To find out more, click this Book Launch Blueprint Course link. Invest in the information you need to successfully launch your book. I heartily recommend it.

I invite you to join us this Wednesday. Register now, take the poll, post your questions, then come back and vote on the questions others have asked. During the second hour, we will answer the questions related to launching a book that have the most votes.

If you cannot attend live, the webinar will be recorded and available, for free, to all who have registered.

Make this part of your Spring 2022 writers education efforts, focusing on what you can do from the comfort of your own home.

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A Is for Agent

by Steve Laube

I thought it might be fun to write a series that addresses some of the basic terms that define our industry. The perfect place to start, of course, is the letter “A.” And even better to start with the word “Agent.”

If you are a writer, you’ve got it easy. When you say you are a writer your audience lights up because they know what that means. (Their perception is that you sit around all day thinking profound thoughts. And that you are rich.)

If you are an editor, you got it sort of easy. Your audience knows you work with words and all you do is sit around and read all day. In my editorial days I was often told, “I’d love to have your job.”

But tell someone you are an agent and there is a blink and a pause. If they don’t know the publishing industry they think “insurance agent” or “real estate agent” or “secret agent.” Or if they follow sports or entertainment they think “sleazy liar who makes deals and talks on the phone all day.” I resent people thinking that I talk on the phone all day. (Hah!)

Even at a writers conference I always have someone ask, “What is it that you do?”

Deal Maker

An agent works on commission. Fifteen percent of the money earned in a contract they have sold to a publisher on behalf of a writer. I will be bold to say that any prospective agent who asks you for money up front is someone you should stay away from.

This is the category that most people focus on when defining the role of the agent. But it is only one small facet of what we do. Two months ago I published a list of the activities our agency had recently done as a way to help dispel the myth that we are only deal makers. It is how we earn our living but only a small part of our work.

Don’t get me wrong. This is a crucial part of what we do. Our contract negotiations are critical to the long-term health of the publishing/author relationship. Last Fall I taught a course at a conference called “Landmines in Your Book Contract.” Each time I read one from an “offending” contract there were gasps in the room. There is a good reason to have a professional review any book contract you are ready to sign.

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A Peek at an Agent’s Emails

As a literary agent, I send and receive a lot of emails. A lot. And that’s not even counting the emails offering my helpful diet tips and donut recipes. My emails aren’t always so practical, but it recently occurred to me that some weary or woeful writers might be helped …

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Why Was My Submission Rejected?

From Day One as a big, important literary agent, the least favorite part of my job—by far—has been saying no. It’s the worst. And it makes me feel like I’m the worst. Feel sorry for me yet? Seriously, the process of reviewing one submission after another, expecting to find one …

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A Literary Agent’s Wish List

People often ask me, “What are you looking for?” It’s a natural question to ask a literary agent, even when the questioner knows that the agent has offered a detailed answer on the agency website (here, for example). After all, something could’ve changed. I may, since updating my interests, have …

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Are You High Maintenance?

by Steve Laube

Last week I was asked to define what is meant when an author is deemed “high maintenance” by an agent or a publisher. The more I thought about this the more I realized how difficult it is to quantify. Any attempt to do so is fraught with potential misunderstanding because most people are looking for specific rules to follow.

Normally “high maintenance” is a description of someone who is difficult to work with or is constantly in need of attention. It can be anyone from a “diva” to a “rookie.” The best way to express the issue is in the following word picture:

When you contract with an agent or a publisher you are granted a large measure of “Good Will” in the form of a bag of gold coins. You are free to spend these coins however you wish during the course of the business relationship. The cover design is completely wrong? Spend some coins. The marketing plan appears weak. Spend some coins. And as time goes by and positive things happen you receive more gold coins for your bag.

However, many authors make the mistake of spending their entire bag of coins the first time something goes wrong. And then the next time they need a favor or a special dispensation there isn’t any “Good Will” left.

I think there are three areas where these relationships can break down.

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What if You Get a Book Deal on Your Own and Then Want an Agent?

One of our readers asked this via the green “Ask us a question” button.

What happens if you get a book contract before you have an agent? What if, by some miracle, an editor sees your work and wants to publish it? (1) would having a publisher interested in my work make an agent much more likely to represent me, and (2) would it be appropriate to try to find an agent at that point (when a publisher says it wants to publish you)? My fear is that querying an agent and receiving a response could take several months, but I’d need to accept a potential contract with a book publisher right away (I would think). Is it appropriate to ask the editor to speak with an agent on your behalf to speed the process?

This is a great topic but there are a few questions within the question. Let me try to break it down.

Many times have had authors approach us with contracts in hand and seeking representation (happened just last week). Of course this will get an agent’s attention immediately. But there are caveats:

a)      Who is the publisher? There is a big difference between a major company and your local independent publisher. Not all publishers are created equal (see the Preditors & Editors warnings).

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