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Fair warning: This will come across as impertinent, though I don't mean it that way at all. How many times was your first book rejected by agents when you first queried? (I'm asking because I adore your writing. I'm wondering how many people are now kicking themselves for 'what could have been'.)
I didn’t think to get an agent until I’d had my fourth book published.
My first book-sale was off an outline that I sent to about five publishers. Three said no, one bought it and one is still going to get back to me. My second I was called by a publisher and asked to write it.
About book four I decided it was time to get an agent, so I chose the agent who had just sold book four in the US for the UK publisher for a lot of money, and she’s been my agent ever since.
HOW AGENTS ARE ADJUSTING TO THE NEW WORLD
We spent the morning with the Mystery Writers of America at their annual symposium. The fantastic agents panel was monitored by Daniel J. Hale MWA Executive Vice President and consisted of, Dan Conaway, Writers House, Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary Agency, Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Agency, Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management and InkWell Management’s own, David Hale Smith. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the best feedback, one-liners and zingers!
Some interesting views on self-publishing:
Self publishing requires a certain alertness and flexibility!
The burden is back on the author to be their own editor, marketer, publicist etc…so what about the writing?
70% of books are still sold in bookstores. Traditional publishers still bring the credibility and the right relationships.
How does one do a book signing for an e-pub only book? Now there’s some food for thought!
Back in the day, writers wanted to write books - their best book possible and not just ‘market their product.’
Best/worst query letters:
“This is the most important work that’s been written in the last 2,000 years” David Hale Smith
“Someone once pitched a story to me during an emergency c-section. Of course I said send it…she had a knife!” Paige Wheeler
“A lady sat down across from me at a conference and said, ‘Jesus told me that you would be my agent so I’m not worried.’ So I retorted, ‘Well, when we were having coffee last week he didn’t mention you!’ …she didn’t laugh.” Barbara Poelle
“Don’t summarize your entire book in the subject line. That shows that you’re lacking…a certain something. The point is there’s no trick. Be brief, don’t explain the market…just write a well written letter.” Dan Conaway
A little social media etiquette:
It’s death to get on social media and self promote incessantly. And you have to promote yourself but be graceful about it…You’re a professional communicator, really think about what you want to say.
Participate in larger conversations and make friends. People will become invested in you.
To do social media well you have to do it all the time it has to be a part of the fabric of what you do.
If you do it artfully it gives your fans a chance to look behind the curtain. Be interesting and engaging . Funny also helps!
Some final thoughts…
Trends come and go…you have to write what you write. People who think more about trends rather than what’s organic to them are missing the point.
You, writers, are the biggest gamblers. You invest your time and a lot of hard work into what you do and there is something powerful in that.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! To get the full scoop from a full day of engaging sessions, check out the Mystery Writers of America.