Self published author newly looking for an agent

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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HoldinHolden
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Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by HoldinHolden » July 16th, 2012, 9:21 pm

Hi all!

I am a self-published author (why I went that route is a long story in and of itself) who is now hoping to pick up an agent and a deal with a publishing house. My book has received 81 5-star reviews on Amazon in just 8 months, and I have a large Facebook following, which would make one wonder why I would ever want to go any other route with such great feedback- and the simple answer is saturation. My reach only goes so far.
Basically I am hoping just to be able to pick some brains, so i'll try to keep it short.
I believe in my book, it is based off of my blog (yes I am a blogger too) and my experiences as a mother in the digital age. It's funny, kind of gross, and brutally honest (I have been called "The Howard Stern of Mommy Blogging") but also touches on some serious subjects such as disappointment, death, and extreme cyber-bullying when it comes to the types of things you write online (which we all do these days, whether it be Facebook or a blog or anything else).

This is where I run into problems when it comes to querying. I have no idea how to sum up something that touches on so many subjects in order to really get the idea of my book out there (without droning on and on about it).
How would one go about doing something like that? How would you choose to (and yes, I realize you have not read my work so this is just a blanket question at best)? Do you say it's funny and sad, serious and hilarious? It's been the hardest part for me to figure out, because the book really is a balance of the two.

One last question (sorry!):
When it comes to submitting pages of my work, as I have noticed some agents require it with the query- what part is the best to choose? The most dramatic? The funniest?
I know, you're probably going to say it all comes down to my decision, what I think is the best, how I want to market the book. The issue is that it's not an either/or when it comes to the dramatic and the funny. It's both, and taking just a few pages might only give you one OR the other and not both.

Thanks in advance!

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cheekychook
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by cheekychook » July 17th, 2012, 6:06 pm

Welcome to the forums and congratulations on the success you've had with your self-published book.

I can answer one of your questions with absolute certainty: When an agent asks for you to include pages they want the first pages of the book. Period. No grey area whatsoever.

I can answer another with almost as solid an answer: Do not TELL the agent about your book, let the query reflect the style of writing in the book. I'm not clear on whether your book is fiction or non-fiction. That makes a difference in terms of querying. Fictional works are queried with a query letter and perhaps a brief synopsis or sample pages, if the agent wants. Non-fiction works are usually queried with a proposal packet.

There are countless posts/blogs/threads about query writing for either fiction or non-fiction books. My recommendation is that you read as many of them as you can handle, thoroughly research agents who represent whatever genre you decide your book is, find some examples of similar books so you can offer some sort of comparison and then send out a few queries to gauge response.

I don't actually know how many agents are interested in representing authors with projects they've already self-published. I'd suggest researching that, as well, as I imagine some are far more open to it than others.

Hope that's helpful. Good luck.
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HoldinHolden
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by HoldinHolden » July 17th, 2012, 10:12 pm

Thanks for the feedback! I've been trying to find example of Non-fiction queries (as that is what mine is) and they are hard to come by. All of the reading i've done as far as SPing goes is that it does not harm my chances in landing an agent/publisher unless I have negative feedback (which is good for me)

Do you have any links as to where I can find info on a proposal packet? In all of my reading (and i've read a lot, but obviously not everything), i've never heard of that. Sigh. I obviously have a lot to learn!

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Mira
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by Mira » July 17th, 2012, 10:14 pm

Congratulations on the success of your book!

From what I've seen, if you've self-published a book and you want consideration from an agent, you're going to need really high (really high) sales numbers to interest them, but if you have the numbers, you will probably get some real interest.

However, if you don't have the sales numbers, consider a small press. You don't need an agent for that - you can just go to them directly.

Also, check out David Gaughran's blog. His most recent post is about self-publishing through paperback. You don't necessarily need a publisher for paper anymore: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/

If you haven't already, I might wander the indie publishing community (David's blog is a good place to start). You'll get a sense of what people have tried, and are trying, in print, and what type of success folks have met trying to move their books from indie to traditional, and even what agents, and publishers are open to that.

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Mira
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by Mira » July 17th, 2012, 10:16 pm

Nathan has a post on non-fiction book proposals:

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/02 ... posal.html

Whatever you decide, good luck!

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cheekychook
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by cheekychook » July 18th, 2012, 12:49 am

Yes to everything Mira just said. Read Nathan's post and David's blog and then google non-fiction proposal and you'll have more than enough to keep you busy for a while.

Small press and paper self-publishing are also viable options. And make sure to keep building your brand by increasing your online presence when and wherever possible. Obviously you blog---if you haven't already, start guest blogging on other blogs. Tweet. Facebook. Comment on other blogs that have readers who might enjoy your work. Talk with other writers of similar blogs/books. Talk with other moms. Offer people guest spots on your blog. Run contests. Do giveaways. (These are all things you'll need to do if you get an agent or land a publishing contract, so you may as well start now---it won't hurt, it can only help.)

The funny thing about this business is that in order to attract an agent it really helps to be doing so well on your own that it seems like you may not really need an agent after all. There is no "right way to go", only a right way for you. Explore your options and keep an open mind. And, if at all possible, get working on a second book. Publishers and agents are looking for writers who will keep bringing them new work (and bringing in money). Again, good luck!
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HoldinHolden
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by HoldinHolden » July 18th, 2012, 8:55 am

Been doing all of the above for 4 years. I have over 16,000 "fans" (I hate that word) on Facebook. As weird as it sounds, i've actually been surprised with the success i've found on my own that I have not attracted an agent or publisher already.

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CharleeVale
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by CharleeVale » July 18th, 2012, 12:04 pm

Mira is right. Unless you're posting ridiculously high sales numbers for a self-pubbed book, (like, maybe 1,000/month and upwards) They probably won't be interested.

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HoldinHolden
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by HoldinHolden » July 18th, 2012, 12:33 pm

Then why be interested in any book? The fact of the matter is, i'm going to try. I don't agree that no one's going to be interested if i'm not touting thousands of sales per month- but we're each entitled to our own opinions here.
What I really wanted to know was how to query. Via the links provided, I figured that out (plus the proposal), so I thank you all for that.

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Mira
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by Mira » July 18th, 2012, 7:09 pm

Holdin,

We're not trying to discourage you! I'm sorry if you feel we are. We're trying to be helpful by letting you know what we know.

Here's an article that might be helpful to you from a literary agent talking about when she considers self-published works:

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2012/05/ ... /#comments

Good luck!

Burton10
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Re: Self published author newly looking for an agent

Post by Burton10 » November 20th, 2012, 5:55 am

If your self-published books are extremely successful, you may want an agent to shop the print rights and subsidiary rights such as audio, film, and foreign rights. “Extremely successful” can be defined in various ways, but certainly it would mean you’ve sold several thousand units on your own in a short period of time, maybe a few months.

If you’ve self-published previous books but want to go with traditional publishing for your subsequent ones, you’ll need an agent for this.


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