As many authors have already experienced, the process of earning the title of “published author” requires a specific set of steps and strategic planning. Reading this or any other agent”s blog can easily get overwhelming–however, that is not our goal. Being an agent may play a major role in the writer getting published, these blogs exist to enable you, the writer, during the query & publishing process. In an effort to avoid a “Do” and “Don’t” list, I’d rather discuss the things (that writers have done) that resulted in a personal request to read their books and/or book proposals.
1. The homework on the Red Sofa Literary’s representative categories was 100% completed. An author I signed on in 2009 is a prime example. He read my profile in Jeff Herman’s book, and then visited the Red Sofa Literary website. Upon recognizing an active hobby of mine, he presented a book idea that could not be turned down, and today we are in talks with a publisher. It’s a good thing if the agent already brings a passion for the topic being presented.
2. The items sent = materials specifically requested. There is nothing more frustrating than impatiently waiting for a new book proposal & sample chapters to arrive, only to find a partial representation of the materials requested. When 100% of the requested materials are initially provided, I’m already in a fantastic state of mind to consider the project. It’s to any writer’s advantage to follow precisely what an agent needs or requests during the query process, i.e. follow the submission standards of each agent no matter what.
3. When additional questions and materials were needed, the author(s) responded quickly. Assume the initial portion of the query process = the dangling “carrot” in finding an agent. As with any business proposal, with the clear understanding that the book proposal is technically a creative business proposition, questions will certainly arise and clarifications will need to be made. When this happens, respond quickly and provide the information. In the larger picture, if an agent starts asking questions, consider that a good omen. Obviously, there will still be more steps before getting signed and/or published, but it’s worth noting there is already a potential interest on the agent’s part. At Red Sofa Literary, this is a very standard practice.
4. The authors were professional throughout the query process (and after). Working with writers who desire to take all the necessary steps to get published = a fantastic publishing experience for the agent. The ability to write, to present the requested materials to the agent, an ability to market oneself (beforehand) , and a desire to build a large reading audience will present a hard-to-turn-down book idea. I personally get excited when it’s evident the writer has already acomplished these goals during the consideration portion of the query process.
5. The writer presented an exciting, engaging writing voice. My newest author fits this bill wonderfully. Upon reading his initial writing sample, I found myself extremely excited about his project. Once I finished reading the entire manuscript, I knew without a doubt this book should be published. Within two weeks, he was signed on at the agency. Hence, any person with publishing aspirations needs to ensure that this type of response will occur. How you ask? Get others (with a good professional eye) to critique your writing, and constantly re-read and edit your book, as it’ll increase the odds of winning over an agent.
I hope this helps, and as usual, feel free to comment and/or drop an email with any questions.