So you’re starting to think about getting an agent for a book. Your manuscript is almost finished and it’s time to get it out there. Where do you start?
In today’s world, I would argue, becoming a self-marketer before getting an agent for a book is essential. Now, not everyone agrees with that. I was just looking at a conversation on LinkedIn specifically about this. Here’s how it went…
I personally got a kick out of the “trying to get your kid into Harvard before you meet any women” reference. But I would venture to say that argument is wrong. Here is why.
Point #1: You Need to Prove Your Marketing Chops Before Getting an Agent for a Book
In the olden days, authors were just authors. Publishers did everything else — from book editing to cover design to marketing. Well, the world has changed.
Some people mistakenly think that only self-published authors have to wear all those hats. But what they don’t realize is that the publishing industry has changed significantly in the last decade. Sure, publishers invest lots of time and energy in making sure that the upcoming books of their bestselling authors have the perfect covers, press releases sent to premium media outlets, and great presences on social media. But that’s only done for the authors that have already made them loads of money. Every other author they work with? They are on their own.
And that’s where pre-pub marketing plays in. Since a publisher knows that the success or failure of your first book depends, in part, on how good a marketer you are, they want to work with authors who understand marketing and have shown some success with it in the past. And agents know that. In other words, “good marketing=agent interest=publisher interest.”
Point #2: You Need to Sell Yourself to An Agent, So They Can Sell You to a Publisher
You may have written the best manuscript in the world. But unless you know how to sell it, it’s for naught. Trust me: the last thing an agent wants to have to do is spend his time helping you rework how you’re positioning your book before reaching out to publishers.
So as you start the process of getting an agent for a book, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Who does my book appeal to?
- Why is it different or unique from other books out there?
- What is the most compelling aspect of my book?
- How can I summarize my book in several paragraphs?
Keep these points in mind as you craft your inquiry letters and book summaries. These are questions a marketer would ask herself as she starts to scope out her brand — whether she was selling jewelry, real estate, or a book. So put on the hat of a marketer before reaching out to an agent. You need to show that you can sell your book before he will put himself out there to sell your book.
So How Do You Start Marketing Yourself?
While the term “marketing” can sound somewhat intimidating for some, here are some simple ways to get yourself started:
- Build yourself an author website. I could go on and on about this. Or you can just contact us for a free consultation.
- Create at least one social media presence for yourself. Here are some ideas on how to choose the right ones.
- Start blogging to drive traffic to your site and help build your brand.
- Collect email addresses. When an agent asks you how many names you have collected, be prepared to answer.
There’s obviously plenty more you can do, but taking these four steps are a great way to dip your toes in the marketing necessary for getting an agent for a book.