Posts Tagged ‘literary agent’

How To Find A Publisher Or Literary Agent For Your Fiction Or Non-Fiction Book

October 10, 2012

Feedback on your fiction or non-fiction manuscript can often be confusing… or even contradictory.

A complaint I often hear is that several literary agents or publishers are giving conflicting advice. Whose advice should you listen to if you want to get published?

For example, an author recently emailed me recently saying that two separate publishing houses have asked to read the entire manuscript for his crime thriller.

Publisher A rejected the manuscript saying the plot was too complex.

Publisher B said the book was too long and identified various sub-plots to be removed if they were to publish the book. The author did this, but was then told that the plot was “too thin”.

He said: “This has left me a little confused; now with two versions, and two opinions, I’m not sure how best to improve and move the novel forward, before resubmitting elsewhere?”

Here is my advice, which I hope will help any other author who is in a similar position, whether they are writing a novel or non-fiction.

First of all, to get ANY publisher or literary agent to read your manuscript is extremely encouraging and is a signal that your manuscript is marketable. This alone, is a very positive sign. Most publishers and agents receive hundreds of manuscripts per week. They certainly won’t read your book unless they think it has promise. They simply don’t have the time or resources for flattery!

Yes, responses to a book, likes and dislikes, can be very subjective. However, bear in mind that all publishers have a different ‘housetyle’. Think of this as a ‘brand’ or ‘hallmark’ that differentiates them from one another.

So first of all, check if they are actually reading your manuscript. If you are receiving a ‘generic’ rejection letter that looks like it has been xeroxed and could easily be sent to any author – then the chances are that your submission letter and pitch were not compelling enough.

If this is the case, then you need to go away and work on writing a more attention-grabbing letter and synopsis.

If, on the other hand, editors and agents are reading your submitted manuscript, then you need to assess whether they are simply asking that you adapt your book to their particular housestyle. This can make sense of what otherwise may seem like conflicting or contradictory comments.

The time to consider rewriting your book is when you are getting the same feedback consistently. For example, several editors may tell you that your first chapter is weak. Or they may say there is not enough conflict in your plot. If this is the case, it may be time to give your manuscript an overhaul.

You can do this with the help of a literary consultancy or a writers’ coach who will give you an objective opinion on your book. Critique services at Oxford Literary Consultancy, for example, include a 10-15 page report giving feedback on your manuscript, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, as well as making suggestions for improvements.

This can make an enormous different in fine-tuning your writing you before you begin submitting your manuscript again.

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Why Authors MUST Build A List of Fans Hungry For Their Books

May 17, 2011

Many authors are so focused on writing their books they neglect the bigger picture.

But if you genuinely want to attract a publisher or an agent, you need to go the extra mile to grab their attention.

Here’s a recent question from one of my subscribers that I’d like to share… and my answer:

How would you interpret an agent who writes three paragraphs gushing about how much she enjoyed the writer making so much effort to get her attention and then summing it up with, “However, the book is not for us.” Do you think it’s time to give up?

My reply in brief:

This means exactly what it says on the tin. They love the book, but it’s not for them.
Loosely translated, they can see you’re a great writer, but they don’t feel the passion and excitement that’s essential to represent a book.

No, you definitely should NOT give up. Agents wouldn’t give you the time of day if they didn’t think you had talent.

The current publishing environment is incredibly tough. For this reason, your pitch needs a big dose of ‘oomph!’ or uniqueness to stand out.

For this reason, I strongly recommend building yourself a ‘platform’ or ‘list’ of fans for your writing.

This can be done via social media such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.  This can often sway the case in your favour.

Here’s a different letter from one of my other subscribers which reflects the difference this can make:

My daughter is on the cusp of a book deal. She has an agent after following your advice in your ‘Get an Agent’ course. We found your advice invaluable, especially the advice about creating social networking interest.

Her agent told her that her web presence and web profile was the main factor in taking her on – something we would not have known about had we not attended your workshop.

At a time when some publishers are getting 1000+ manuscripts per week, you need strategies to make yourself and your book stand out from all the others.

If you can persuade them that you already have a following before your book is even published, they will see you are highly motivated, savvy and marketable.

All this can only reflect well on you… and help you land the book deal you deserve.