#1 Top Tip for Authors Approaching Agents & Publishers

My #1 top tip for authors who are approaching agents and publishers is:
Present yourself as a professional author.
That means a one-page query letter (sometimes 1.5 pages but that’s unusual).
And, for nonfiction, a book proposal with sample chapters.
For fiction, authors should create a two-page (single-spaced) synopsis and a half-page or 1 page biography at a minimum. Also consider generating a two-page (single-spaced) marketing opportunities sheet. This should provide ideas that you have for marketing the book yourself, all things that can be done while the publisher markets to bookstores.

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3 thoughts on “#1 Top Tip for Authors Approaching Agents & Publishers

  1. AnnaJPalm

    Good tips! About the marketing ideas: I asked two of my English professors about finding an agent, and one of them did say that many agents expect you to have a platform. (Before then I had said to him that I didn’t want to self-publish my novel, because I don’t expect any success or recognition whatsoever from that.) Would you say having a blog, a Twitter and a personal blog-type of Facebook page is a step in that direction? In terms of creating your own platform, I mean. I’m guessing ‘yes,’ but do you have any advice about creating a platform, too?

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    1. Laine Cunningham Post author

      Excellent question, Anna, and one for which the answer is changing. Like everything else in publishing, right?
      For decades, platform has been the watchword for authors pitching publishers and agents. Early on (pre-Internet, pre-digital), a platform was mostly about public speaking. Showing up in person. Holding hands, kissing readers. You know.
      Then it became about Internet reach: podcasts. Internet radio shows. Chatty stuff. Pre-recorded kisses.
      Then it became about social media. Pictures, postings, twittering tweets, shorter, faster, more. Followers were important.
      Now, it’s shifting again. Publishers are less starry-eyed about social media platforms. They’re recognizing that followers don’t make buyers necessarily.
      However, this is just the start of the new trend. Go ahead and get a social media presence, and build what you can out of it. But do not–NOT–allow it to take away from your time writing. Do what you can when you can. Give your followers quality. Focus on cultivating relationships over quantity.
      This gives you something to show publishers who still want social media numbers but doesn’t detract from your true calling by sucking time off into something publishers are going to say, “Meh,” about pretty soon across the board.

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