Blythe Daniel gives advice to NCWA from an agent’s point of view.
One of the great tools that you have as a writer is the setting of a writer’s conference to hone your publishing skills and show an editor or agent your writing style with your well-developed ideas for your next (or first) book.
We as agents come hoping to see some great talent that we believe will be a good match for one of our well-intended suitors/publishers. It’s a bit like a good match-making game. What you have to offer fits (or in some cases doesn’t fit and that isn’t a personal slight – we just can’t take everything we see) with what we’re working on with publishers.
We generally know right away whether it’s going to be something we’re interested in or not. You can help us in the process by having a 2-minute “sound bite” that tells us a) what the book is about, b) what problem or issue your book is the answer to, and c) why you are the person to write it (which includes your background and if you’ve published before, tell us).
As agents, we also want to see a fully-developed book proposal (even for fiction) and sample chapters where we can get a feel for your writing. But we want you to tell us about your book while we talk with you – not just hand us a proposal and ask us to read it. We want to see that when given the opportunity (for the publisher and future media interviews), you can effectively (and quickly!) relate what your book is about in a way that intrigues us and makes us want to hear more.
I also find it helpful to have a one-page with your photo on it and some background information on you, bullet points that talk about the key factors for your fiction or non-fiction book, and how we can reach you. You would be surprised how many writers don’t provide their email address anywhere on their documents. The photo helps us to remember meeting you and our conversation about your book.
At the conference, I’ll specifically be talking about marketing your book before and after it’s published. I believe this is critical for writers who want to advance their writing careers to the next level and want to be smart about how they are handling the promotional side of being an author and how to effectively publicize your book since this no longer just a good idea but a necessity. Authors are increasingly becoming responsible for their own marketing.
I look forward to meeting you and talking with you at the conference. I hope your time at the conference will be productive. Take the time to meet and talk with as many of the faculty as you can because they provide valuable feedback and ideas for you. And enjoy this time of being with other writers and professionals—just the focused time on writing and publishing is as valuable as the contacts you will make.
Blythe Daniel, The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc.
Blythe is a literary agent and publicist and has worked in publishing for 17 years. She’s had clients on the Today Show, Fox News, Good Morning America, The 700 Club, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Moody Radio Network, and The G. Gordon Liddy Show. She was the Publicity Director and Marketing Director for Thomas Nelson Publishers before starting her agency in 2005.