I know how it feels to try to find answers and keep getting the same ol’ runaround from every source. So, here’s the inside scoop…and it may change daily. (Remember, I’m learning as I go.)
- Write the book.
- Perfect a query.
- Make your wish list of dream agents and start at the top.
- Keep a spreadsheet to track responses.
- Sign with your dream agent.
- Build a knock ’em dead book proposal with a clear marketing plan. (emphasis on marketing)
- Let go of the wheel while your agent negotiates a contract.
- Trust your agent, but also feel free to seek legal advice.
- Try to negotiate a publicist in the contract. You’ll be happy to have one.
- Polish your book and start writing a new one.
- Work with editorial team through rounds of edits.
- Seek top-notch endorsers to read your galley proof in hopes of gathering blurbs. This is beyond icky, but there’s no way around it. One or two strong endorsements can make all the difference. Start by making a list of authors whose work you admire. Keep your target audience in mind and consider works similar to your own. It’s good to look in your own backyard for support, but don’t limit the possibilities. Aim high.
- Work with your publicist to build a target list of ideal PR outlets This will include long lead print, digital magazines, online review sites, and finally, broadcast media. Your publicist will take care of distributing ARCs to these outlets and will follow-up in hopes of scheduling interviews, events, etc. (Note: Every house handles publicity differently, so there is no standard plan).
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Always be gracious for any interview, no matter how small the outlet. As a freelance writer, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing many sources. Most people are nothing less than delightful. I’m always surprised to come across the rare source who resists questions or is uncomfortable with the conversation. Remember, the reporter is there to help you. Just enjoy the conversation and appreciate anything they do to help promote your work.
- Finally, keep it all in perspective. I know many successful authors, and most of them all have day jobs. The reality is that very few novelists become Oprah’s BFF or buy a European castle just for fun. Writing is a way of life. Something we do because it’s how we process the world around us. A book is written for a purpose – to share a message, inspire a reader, or open a mind to a new way of thinking. If you’re writing to get rich or to become famous, I wish you all the luck in the world. However, you might be putting your marbles in the wrong can.