The Touch of Inspiration

I’ve been less “bloggy” lately, due to the overwhelming number of things to do (personal and work) of late.  In all, life has been hectic. 

Yet, one of my favorite habits as a literary agent is the research process – whether it’s in regard to my current projects, or ones in consideration.

There are various ways of  doing this research, to which many folks prefer to go the route of the internet.   In fact, I highly encourage folks to do the initial research online.  However, the most effective practice I’ve used is the tried-and-true method of visiting real, “live” books in person.  Yes, the bookstore and/or the library. 

With the usual backlog of book proposals, manuscripts, and emails taking lots of time, there’s something refreshing upon returning back to the bookstore (where my path began so long ago).  It’s a chance to visit the books, to smell them, to look at their pretty covers, to interact with the booksellers, and to stumble upon little jewels that wouldn’t be randomly found online. 

Not only does this help with the decisions made in regard to publishers queried and researching potential projects, this practice results in a happy, excited literary agent.  A literary agent who sprints to the register line with newly found books to bring home.   

Tonight the book “Regetsy” found me at the bookstore – yes, it found me.  This hysterical collection of Etsy-projects-gone-wrong made an otherwise crazy, busy week much more bearable. 

For any aspiring writer attempting to determine if a book idea is commercially viable, look at the larger picture.  Consider the following:

1. Will readers be excited to discover your book – whether found online or at a bookstore?  (i.e. pulling out their wallets to buy it)

2. Does your idea stand out enough to result in the book “finding” your potential readership vs. them seeking it out?   (i.e. within the book’s category, will it elicit a feeling that the reader “needs” to read it?)

3. What does the competition look like?  Can your book fill a special gap within its potential book category?   (i.e. the stiffer the competition means a need for the book to distinguish itself from the other available titles)

After today’s fun outing, several conclusions come to mind.   First and foremost, market yourself and your book like it’s going out of style.  Forget about the friends and family, colleagues, neighbors, etc…of which there is a personal acquaintance – they already know you, and will buy the book.  Remember that one also needs to reach the readers who haven’t heard about the book-who haven’t met you YET.  Determine a strategy in how those folks will be reached.  Not only will it result with increased odds of getting published, there’s a better possibility of increasing one’s sales #s (once published).

Secondly, don’t forget about the bookstore customer who casually browses the shelves.  Considering the fact there are MANY choices once s/he enters the bookstore, it’s absolutely essential the idea will have legs of its own.  Figurative legs that will result in any random stranger purchasing the book; due to the uniqueness of the book, the narrative, and the desire to give that book a home. 

Finally, as an agent, this is the type of excitement I want with ANY project at Red Sofa Literary.  If a possible project results in a “so-so” response, I know immediately that it’s not a good match. Literary agents need to be enthusiastic about our projects, as we should be championing those books it to the publishers.  That type of excitement is always infectious, and to author’s advantage.

Now I’m going to return back to Regretsy.  Go check it out!



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  1. Trent Aitken-Smith on July 6, 2010 at 12:25 am

    ” there’s something refreshing upon returning back to the bookstore (where my path began so long ago). It’s a chance to visit the books, to smell them, to look at their pretty covers, to interact with the booksellers, and to stumble upon little jewels that wouldn’t be randomly found online.”

    This is the sole reason I do not believe e-books will ever replace hard copy books.

  2. Nithin R S on July 31, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Good piece of information for aspiring writers. I wonder if i can find a literary agent for myself.