You’re waiting but you’re not idle. So what do these mythical agents actually want? At base, you’re looking for a business partner. You’re production and marketing; they’re sales and contract negotiation.
Let me say that again. You are production and marketing. A book whose author doesn’t market it will fail every time. So if an agent is looking for an author who will make money, (let’s go with she for this post) she’s looking for an author who can market himself and his books (now my pronouns are balanced. Sweet!).
This whole post could be retitled “Find Other Ways to Make Yourself Valuable”. Or in other words, find other ways to push your business forward that isn’t purely production. The further along your business is, the better of a business partner you’ll be for any potential agent. Production is done for the moment; you’ve finished the book. Congratulations! Moving forward.
I can guarantee I’ll have a lot of posts on this and even more tweets. Follow me at @GwendolynTweets for links to articles and videos on how to do this well. For now, lets go with the basics that agents will actually ask if you have. As far as I’ve seen that’s:
- Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Blog followers
- Author’s website with followers
- In-person author/writer connections
So : Go create some writer/author pages. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel ridiculous ‘cause you’re not a writer ‘yet’, how can you have a twitter? What would you even say? Well, if you’re not a writer, go back to step one and write something to sell and then come back here. If you’ve done that, then you’re a writer. Build up your confidence, research social media marketing, and start. Now type now.
- Stop saying ‘Aspiring’ author and Build your Confidence: here
- Why social media? Why is everyone talking about it? A sparkly (but accurate) video: here
- A step by step guide to starting Twitter here and Facebook here
- Learn how to Schedule your Tweets: here
If it helps, when you follow people on Twitter, they’ll often follow you back. Check their follow/follower ratio to see if they’re the type to follow you back, and start there. I’m not saying to make your twitter strategy a massive campaign of following other people, but it’s a place to get started. Go. Now.
This is such a fancy buzz word. What on earth does it mean? It’s kind of like focused social time. On a weekend, you go to a bar with friends and drink/eat food/make geeky puns with a swarm of strangers buzzing around you. On a weekday, you go to a bar for a networking event for writers/readers/agents/publishers and drink/eat food/make geeky puns with them. At first, it sounds overwhelming and horrible. At least, it did to me. The reality of it was, I went to my first conference and I had an amazing time there.
A room full of entrepreneurial book-loving people there to meet other book-loving people? Yes, please.
Get past hating it. Because it has to get done. Decide that becoming a full-time writer is more important to you than any emotion, and sign up. Meetups.com is a good start. Look for more than writing groups. Network with writers, editors, readers, e-book app tech startups, office-supply people, all of it. You really never know where you’ll meet the person that is carrying around an opportunity for you. Remember, opportunities are not bubbles floating around in space. They’re attached to people looking for someone who can help them. You’ve gotta have met that person or know someone who has met that person. So go meet people.
3) Research Publication & Promotion Strategies
Find out what other people are doing. Being on Twitter and following a lot of authors and author’s promotion websites is a great tool for this. In minutes you will be inundated with links to helpful websites/blogs/forums and everything else under the sun giving you advice on how to publish & promote your work better. Plus, you’ll probably pick up a few followers and see a random image of a pug riding a bike for your efforts, and those are both innately valuable.
- Learn about Goodreads here
- New Publication/Promotion Idea I found : Put QR codes in the back of print books, so you browse in person and buy online. Read about it here
- And click here for a picture of a pug riding a bike, in case you missed it.
4) Learn about Your Customers
I’m going to let you decide if your customer is the publisher or reader. Coming up with a new way to sell to publishers sounds super interesting and I don’t want to squash that by only discussing readers as book-buyers. But, for now, lets talk about readers.
- Find out where your readers are and lurk productively. A lot of this comes straight from Amy Hoy’s discussion of product creation here . I have learned a massive amount from her and I owe my first completed novel to a midnight discussion on her couch, which I will be grateful for for the rest of time. The main point is: find out what readers want and need. Find out what bugs them, what they love, how they talk, what products they’re already being offered, etc. And write it down.
- Organize that data until it starts to form into something comprehensible.
What’s the point? Whether or not you get an agent to call you for the book you’re currently querying, you have built up your career for the future. You know who you’re selling to, what they want, and how to sell it to them. Which leaves you with two different options. Either you can decide that the book you wrote is already what readers will want, and you have the data to support that argument, and you can start figuring out how to sell it (either with an agent or otherwise), or you can go write it.
5) Write a Book Readers will Want
Writing the next book shows an agent that you can produce more than one novel -which is also excellent information for an agent to have, and it shows that you’re a valuable business partner, but I’d focus on marketing first – on the basis that you should always be strengthening the weakest link.
However, if you follow the steps in this order, you have a much better chance that your next book will be a book readers, agents, and publishers will want – because you’re writing your next book After engaging with readers, agents, and publishers on twitter, on facebook, in person, and everywhere else you can find them.
And if you’re anything like me, you just love to write. Listening to people discuss what they want to read is like a godsend.