WAITING FOR AN AGENT OR EDITOR TO RESPOND? GET BUSY!
The dog days of August can be the most frustrating for a writer because it’s next to impossible to get the attention of an agent or, if a proposal is on submission, an editor. Rather than drive yourself crazy waiting for a response to your e-mail or snail mail, here’s what to keep yourself from feeling frustrated:
1. Consciously choose to be patient and not to nudge. If you push an agent or editor for a response, you predispose that person to look for reasons to reject it. Agents and editors hate feeling pressured, and it’s always easier to say no than it is to say yes. Don’t prejudice them against your project. Focus instead on getting someone else’s interest and making your book an even hotter property. Light a fire under the pokey agent by sending it to other agents, or have your agent submit it to other editors. That way, you may be able to send them the message, “I have interest from someone else so please let me know whether you are interested as well.” That is much more likely to get them excited than the message a nudge note really sends: “Can you please get back to me? I’m feeling sad and anxious because no one has expressed interest in my project yet”!
2. Build your platform. You could twiddle your thumbs, agonize, vent to your fellow writers, your partner, and your pet, or call a psychic to get her take on your proposal’s prospects, but here are some more practical ways to spend your time right now. All will improve your chances of getting an agent and book deal:
–Offer to be a guest blogger on or be interviewed for a popular blog.
–Write more blog pieces. Tease them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram).
–Write a free “service” article (how to do such-and-such, 7 tips for such-and-such) and pitch it to a website or magazine.
–Comment on major blogs and include your URL in your comment.
–Do some Tweets or Instagram or Facebook posts. Drive people to your website. Make sure your site encourages them to give you their e-mail address so you can someday send them notice of your book’s publication. A giveaway such as an ebook or audio meditation (which you can host on a hidden page on your site) can drive subscriptions.
–Get bookings on podcasts. Mention your forthcoming book, website, and free giveaway to new subscribers.
–Set up some speaking engagements. Again, mention your forthcoming book, website, and free giveaway to new subscribers. You might even give away a prize to a random audience member who signs up for your newsletter (pass around a clipboard so people can write down their email addresses).
–Make some informational videos and post them online and on your website. Tweet about them and feature them on your Facebook page and announce them on LinkedIn.
–Learn more about other forms of social media that are becoming more popular and start thinking about whether you might benefit from investing time in using them.
–Do a social media campaign to boost your number of followers.
–Research other authors in your genre and check out what they’re doing to build their platform.
Remember, if you get a publicity break, or suddenly have a big uptick in followers, you can send a nice note to the agent or editor saying, “I just thought I’d let you know that I’ll be on MSNBC tomorrow/have a blog piece on Psychology Today this week/got 2000 new Twitter followers/stripped for Playboy magazine to build my “healthy body” brand.” Think of all the many ways you can draw attention to your brand at this critical point. (I’m not kidding about the centerfold: When I was an in-house editor, one of my authors, who wrote guides to improving intimacy, appeared in a major men’s magazine half-clothed, the month of our annual sales conference. That certainly woke up the sales force! My authors with similar books in the pipeline were intrigued by this bold move, but decided on other means for self-promotion!)
Envision the sale. Imagine that you have gotten the call from the agent or editor saying, “This is the greatest thing EVER!” Visualize every moment of that call…yourself on a major national television show talking about it as the host stares at you, enraptured…your book’s title on the top of the New York Times bestseller list…you speaking to an audience of aspiring authors, telling your story about how you, too, thought at one point that there was no hope but then the call came and now look at you. Don’t feel embarrassed by this exercise. Many successful authors have envisioned their success and infused their fantasy with the emotions so that it felt real, only to have that success play out in reality.
Categories:author platform, author's platform, best time to submit book proposal, blogging, book publishing, branding, building a platform, find a literary agent, finding an editor, how to sell my book, platform, publishing advice, relationship with literary agent, rules for submitting book proposal, successful book proposal, working with a literary agent
Nancy Peske is a ghostwriter, developmental editor, and book publishing consultant who has done editorial work on books including bestsellers and award-winners for over 30 years.