By Kathy Bazan, BRC Business Consultant
With the advent of COVID-19, the knowledge economy boomed. What is the knowledge economy? It is the segment of the economy in which people share their knowledge and get paid for it. One way to join the knowledge economy is to write and publish a book which generates sales from around the corner to around the globe.
Right now, there is probably a topic on which you know more about than any other person: whether it is widgets or wabbits–I mean, rabbits—you have knowledge which you can share.
How do you get published?
There are three options:
- Research and present your manuscript proposal directly to the publishing house.
- Research and present your manuscript proposal to an agent who will negotiate a contract between you and the publishing house.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Each:
- Send your manuscript proposal to the publisher. Advantages:
- If you want to write poetry or a college textbook, this is probably your best path.
- The publisher pays the costs to print, distribute, and market your book. This saves you thousands of dollars.
- Send your manuscript to an agent who works at a literary agency. Advantages:
- The agent knows the decision makers who can get you published.
- The agent may offer to edit your book for free.
- The agent may be able to get you into print quicker than you can.
The agent will take a percentage or a flat dollar amount from the money the publisher pays you.
The agent might not share your vision for your book.
- You may get into print quicker because you are the only decision-maker.
- You have complete creative control over the publishing.
You pay all the costs yourself and have the fun of doing all your own marketing.
How do you find a publisher or an agent?
Buy or borrow a copy of Writer’s Market from the library. Look in the back of the book for publishers or agents (two separate lists) your genre (your subject area). Put a sticky note on that page. Look at the list of publishers and identify one publisher. Look that publisher up on the page indicated in the index. Does this publisher accept manuscript proposals from first time authors? No…skip them. Yes: copy the publisher’s information into a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. You need the contact information and what the publisher requests? Does the publisher want your first three chapters, a Table of Contents, your résumé, and competitive intelligence report? These are fairly typical. However, make a note of anything this publisher wants from you.
Repeat with the list of agents—find agents in your genre who accept marketing proposals from first time authors.
Send a query letter to any of these publishers or agents you found.
What is a query letter?
Think of it as your cover letter to a publisher or agent.
- The first paragraph is your hook: What makes the book exciting or is there a need for this book to fill a gap in the public’s knowledge?
- The next 2-3 paragraphs are more sizzle (like the copy you would place on the back cover to encourage the reader to buy your book).
- Tell WHY you selected this agent or publisher. List titles of books similar to yours.
- If you have a platform (e.g., 10,000 people on Facebook page or you speak at conventions), list this in your letter. If not, skip it!
- Go to Google and search for successful query letters. Use an online thesaurus to find synonyms and replace words in the letter to customize it for you.
- You can be confident but NOT arrogant.
- Do NOT list your age. The agent or publisher may think you are too old to write this topic (e.g., a person over 65 writing a social media book) or too young to write on your topic.
- Do NOT start the letter stating that you value this person’s time.
- If you have writing credits which pertain to your book’s subject, list those (e.g., you wrote an article about widgets and your book is about widgets). If your writing credits are not on the same topic as your book, you may not want to list them here. One exception: If you were published in The New Yorker or The Christian Science Monitor for instance, list those articles. These two publications have such high editorial requirements that the agent or publisher instantly knows you write well and there is little they need to do to edit your work. They have been known to break into a happy dance…
Keep track of to whom you sent your letter/e-mails and follow-up.
Do not send your manuscript to the publisher or agent. Unsolicited manuscripts are tossed in the corner and often not read for years.
If you have questions, reach out to me. Let me use my knowledge to help you build your business (and your sales!) as a published author!
Kathy Bazan, BRC Consultant to Business Owners
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