Some ideas

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Posted by I Write for a Living on November 23, 2010 at 07:48:02

In Reply to: Re: Anyone know a literary agent to publish a book? posted by Johnson on November 16, 2010 at 16:36:26:

How far are you willing to go with the self-publishing route?

If you feel your story is one that has to be told, as opposed to just one you wrote hoping to make a quick buck, you might consider investing some time and money into self-publishing, until you reach your goal of being picked up by a publishing house.

Whether you ultimately land yourself a decent publishing deal or not, it will still cost you some time and money to get your book out there onto the shelves of bookstores. There are a few things you can and must do to help along the process.

It will mean using the services of a good editor-advisor (which is a must), doing your own layout, having some Internet skills, and contracting an online POD (print-on-demand) publisher. Your publisher will purchase an ISBN for you, list your title with popular databases, and handle all your POD sales and deliveries. That contract and process will cost you at least $500, not counting the editing and layout costs. The good news is that once it's done and you're set up with a POD publisher, your book will be out there and available to the general public.

The bad news is that having done all the above, you will still probably not sell a single book unless you are willing to hawk it constantly. Once your book has been self-published, you can hire representatives to place copies of it at the London, New York and Frankfurt book fairs. You will need to do this year after year until you are spotted and signed on with a decent publisher (who may elect to make further changes to your book). Each of these appearances of your book at a book fair will cost you a few hundred dollars.

To land a publishing deal, it would be a good idea to find out the communication protocols of each literary agent you approach, as they are all different. With most of them, one false step and you are out. Each has specific rules and required formats, and not all of them will want to check out your book at first contact. Some will want only a three-paragraph synopsis, others will want a summary and break down of each chapter, and yet others will want the first three chapters printed in courier font on A4 sheets with one-inch margins and a maximum of 20 lines per page.

It will also be a good idea to have a professional writer/editor co-compose a few variations of query letters and proposals for you, in conjunction with a few variations of synopses and a chapter summary. Your query letters will have to be letter-perfect and professionally-written: part sales proposal, part introduction to yourself as a suitable candidate, and part introduction to your book. They will need to know right off, what is the marketing potential of your book and why they should be working with you. With most literary agents, if there is something they don't like in the first line, they'll crumple your letter and toss it into the bin.

As a no-name, it will be necessary to jump through all these hoops to get your book published. The good news is it can be done, even if through sheer hard work and perseverance.

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