Quick Question*
Should I buy the Xlibris marketing package?

publishing questions
Q. I am currently self-publishing with Xlibris and they have been aggressively marketing for me to spend additional money on one of their marketing packages. I haven’t even seen the final product yet. Should I take them up on their “special offer?”

A. We can’t speak specifically to the Xlibris packages, but can tell you generally that there is NO one size fits all when it comes to book marketing, and generic packages are rarely a good idea. Books must be promoted and marketed to succeed, of course. Most books disappear. So spending time and money on marketing is essential. But the type of marketing that works, whether you’re publishing fiction or nonfiction, is marketing that reaches people who are predisposed to purchase your book. Targeted marketing to people who have demonstrated a willingness to buy similar books in the past, and to people who are interested in your subject matter. It’s hard to reach those people through a generic press release that gets sent out to a thousand media outlets who will delete it before they read it. You won’t find your readers with generic review package, either, or [Read more…]

Quick Question*
When do I look for an agent? Before or after the book is finished?

publishing questions
When to look for an agent?

Short Answer

If you’re writing a novel, don’t submit until after you’ve written and rewritten the novel. In other words: after.
If you’re writing nonfiction, you’ll submit a query for a proposal, not a finished book. Agents and publishers base their nonfiction publishing decisions on proposals, and don’t expect you to finish until after the contract is signed. So: before.

Longer Answer: Look for an Agent early; Submit Later

Don’t submit your query until your work is ready (the proposal or the novel), but do start researching in advance. While you’re writing and researching, keep your eyes open and build up your list of potential agents:

  • Create a file of potential agents (digital or a real folder)
  • Note the names of agents that are acknowledged in your favorite books
  • Subscribe to a reputable publishing newsletter or two (Publishers Weekly; Publishers Marketplace, Writers Digest) and notice the names of agents that pop up. Writers Digest interviews agents looking for new clients all the time.
  • Use Google alerts to get book news from one or two reputable sources (USA Today, New York Times)
  • Ask around whenever you run into other writers (your writing group, writing workshops, online groups).

Best of luck!

Quick Question*
What is Most Important to Book Publishers?

publishing questions
Q. What’s the main thing a traditional book publisher considers before signing an author?

A. Yes, publishing decision-making can be complex, and acquisitions can take days and involve many people. But it always comes down to one simple question: will people buy this book? No market=no money for publisher=no money for author.

Seems pretty intuitive, doesn’t it? Yet 9 out of 10 queries that cross my desk (or zoom through my email) don’t seem to consider this fact.

And 99 out of 100 people derisively calling traditional book publishers “gatekeepers” and demanding that all books [Read more…]

Quick Question*
Should I Hire an Editor Before I Submit to Agents?

publishing questionsFive years ago I rarely encountered anyone who paid to get his work edited before submitting to agents and publishers. Now just about every writer I run into at conferences talks about “my writing coach” or “my editor.”

At the 2014 San Francisco Writers Conference last month I heard a very jarring question. The New York editors panel was asked: “Will traditional publishers insist on editing my book?” There’s so much wrong with that question, and this whole situation, it’s kind of hard to know where to start.

What bothers me is what’s behind these questions: a deep [Read more…]