More Wise Words from Agents
News about the poor economy continues to rock the headlines, including more announcements from publishers about belt-tightening and cost-cutting. I think it’s important for writers to look at market realities and understand that this isn’t going to be an easy road. (But really, when was it ever easy?) To find success, we may need to step up our games—write better, market better, be more persistent.
Here are a few more agents’ answers to my question, “What’s the ONE thing you’d like to tell writers in these tough economic times?”
Jeff Dunn, Winters & King, Inc.
Let us drop every reliance we have on man, whether it be ourselves, our spouse, our employer, our publisher, our president. We are not citizens of this earth for long—as the late, great Larry Norman sang, we are only visiting this planet. There is a lot of shaking going on right now, and a lot more to come. Let go of what you are holding onto that is not eternal. Look to our Father for all—emphasize ALL—your needs, whether it is a story idea or money for tonight’s dinner. He is our all-in-all. Now is a really good time to learn that in a practical way.
Greg Daniel, Daniel Literary Group
Having been on the publisher’s side of the business for many years before starting my agency, I can tell you that the first thing publishers start slashing when times are tough is their marketing budget. Publishers realize that they can immediately impact their bottom line by cutting extra marketing expenses. Of course, that may be incredibly short-sighted and even counter-productive, but it’s just the way things are. What that means is that in tough times such as these you as an author bear a great portion of the burden of marketing yourself and your book. Your “platform” is more important than ever. I spoke with a wanna-be author recently, and he was turned off by the “self-promotion” that many authors seem to engage in. He wanted to just sit in his study, pipe in mouth, and write great books, and let the publisher worry about promoting him. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly. If you want to be an author, you HAVE to always be thinking about how to promote yourself and your books
Janet Grant, Books & Such Literary Agency
Publishers are risk averse; so you need to demonstrate to a publisher that contracting your book isn’t a big risk by building a platform that helps to get the word out about your book.The Internet is available to all of us—fiction and nonfiction writers—to build that platform, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Figure out as many innovative ways to build your brand online as you can and remember that readers want to make personal connections with authors rather than to receive ads.
Terry Whalin, Whalin Literary Agency
While the news spirals downward and there is much about our world you can’t change, keep focused on what you can do. Magazines and book publishers continue to look for excellent writers and fresh ideas. Perseverance, persistence and diversity are critical in these times as well as a commitment to craft. If you feel like no one is saying yes, gain encouragement from reading this foreword from Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
I understand it might be frustrating to hear agents saying, “Do it better!” “Be the best!” “Learn the craft”! You might be thinking, “AS IF I’m not already trying to do all that!”
But I think what we’re really saying is that if you’re striving for excellence and doing all you can to master the craft of writing, then we want to encourage you to keep going. Persistence is key. We don’t want good writers to hang up their laptops out of despair at the hopelessness of getting published. If this is what you do, and it’s what you love, keep going.
Bottom line: People are going to keep reading. Are you going to write the things people want to read?
What kind of impact do YOU think the economy will have on book buyers? Will people who love to read stop purchasing as many books? Or will they buy more because books are cheaper than some other entertainment options? Chime in with your opinions.
Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.