Sunday, May 4, 2008


How did it get to be MAY already?

Sheesh. Time flies when you're off trying to sell a novel.

Which is what I was off doing.

Sort of.

Long story, but I'm basically in happyland at the moment. I've written a fan-tab-ulous novel I call Talking to the Dead (you can have a look see at chapter 1 at my website I finished but a wee short few moments ago. . . okay, I actually finished it last a couple of months ago, and I've been working on selling the thing.

I've learned a few things.

Would you like to hear them?

Oh, great! Read on.

First thing I learned: I know nothing.

Seriously. I didn't know enough to know what it is I didn't know. And not for a lack of trying. I've read books on how to write books, I read books on how to sell books, I've read books on how to attend conferences, approach editors, write proposals, write query letters, sing 7 national anthems, and make Julianne fries.

All good stuff. I'm glad I read all of that stuff, but these books didn't teach me the one thing I needed to know: How do I choose the best publishing house for my novel?

Most of us are happy when a publisher, any publisher, shows interest in our work, right? And we should be! Great validation! Warm fuzzies! A shot at being published!

So we pursue any and all leads, any and all publishers who offer to take a peek at our manuscripts. I've had several publishers express serious interest in my novel. So, how does a writer choose? How do I know which publisher is the best one for my novel?

This is the situation I found myself in recently (I know, I know, nice problem to have - and it is).

The truth is, I don't know which house is the best one for my novel. I don't know which one is the best house for your novel either.

Who does?

An agent.

Boy, howdy what they know!

I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with an agent and what she was able to tell me that I had NO clue about, and had NO way of knowing sent my brain spinning. I hope I'm not putting undue presser on anyone, but I'm quite convinced that an agent is the way to go for any new author who has a well polished, excellent ms finished and ready to sell.

Here's the catch:

The agent has to LOVE your work. So you may need to speak to more than one in order to find the right fit.

What this agent knew was info I'd never seen in any book anywhere. What this agent has access to is mind blowing.

Oh yeah, she also told me that, even if you are in the middle of talking with a publisher, most are happy when an agent steps in and takes over the negotiations. They have a longstanding, professional relationship and it simply takes less work and effort to get the deal done.

I'll say one more thing about agents. I've read in many places that manuscripts get rejected because of a million little things that a writer could do wrong like stapling her manuscript, or forgetting to double space. But, my experience tells me that good writing, good books, get noticed.


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