So, I happened across some kind of website/chatroom/message board for writers and there was a discussion about finding an agent. This is one of those sites where people ask each other questions and help each other on the road to publication.
One of the writers mentioned that an agent to whom she’d submitted had requested a book proposal.
Her question for her friends and fellow aspiring authors was:
What is a book proposal?
I have to admit that FREAKED ME OUT. These are the basics. How can you be already approaching agents when you don’t have any idea how this whole getting-published process works?
An agent can’t sell your book to a publisher without a book proposal. You’ve got to have one, and it’s got to be good. These days, you even need one for fiction.
Let me put it to you straight: If you don’t know what a book proposal is, you’re not quite ready to approach an agent. Just because you’ve finished a manuscript doesn’t mean it’s time.
You’re ready for an agent when you’re ready to approach publishing as a business, even if it’s not your “day job.” Spend some time learning how it works. If you’ve already spent a lot of time and energy writing your blockbuster bestseller, take a little more time to brush up on the business of publishing, craft a killer query and a knock-your-socks-off book proposal. THEN come knocking.
In fact, one of the most common reasons for agent rejections is that the writer simply isn’t ready: they haven’t spent quite enough time mastering the craft of writing or learning about the business or both. If you’re seeking publication, here are the steps, although this list isn’t necessarily in order, and it’s not exhaustive:
8 Have a great idea, research the market and make sure there’s a desire or need for your idea, and write your book.
8 Sometime during that process, attend a writers’ conference or two so you can start learning about the business as well as meeting editors and agents.
8 Edit, rewrite and polish your book. Get critiques and feedback. Trade manuscripts with writing friends and get some good advice. Read books about writing and make sure you’ve done everything humanly possible to make your book the best it can be. You may even consider hiring a freelance editor.
8 Write a book proposal. There are books about that, too.
8 Research the marketplace and decide what kind of publisher is right for you, and by extension, what kind of agent will be right for you. Gather a list of names, your “target” list of agents and editors to whom you will submit. One way to do this is to spend some time in a bookstore, find books similar to yours, and find out who published them and who agented them. You can also use the Christian Writer’s Market Guide.
8 Spend time creating a winning query letter. Then begin sending your queries. Send a whole bunch at once if you want, making sure to state it’s a simultaneous submission. Fairly soon, you’ll get an idea of whether anyone is finding your query interesting.
But of course, you know all this. That’s why you’re reading my blog. Congratulations! You’re on the right track.
Now it’s your turn. Tell us what steps YOU’VE found necessary so far on your road to publication. Maybe I’ll learn something.[ Next Post → ] [ ← Previous Post ]