Personalized Publishing Advice: Where to Get It?
Blog reader Stefne Miller wrote me:
Part of the bonus of having an agent is the ability to sit down with someone and track a course for the writer’s career. The writer gets a professional opinion about what’s in their best interest and plans for the future can be made.
For someone like myself who wasn’t able to find an agent at the start of my writing career, I am at a moment in my journey where I need to figure out some long term plans. What’s possible? Is the platform I’m building and the work I’ve done enough to try the traditional route again? Should I even do that? What’s the best route to take? Should I change directions, or give up all together, etc? You get the idea. And while I can read a lot of blogs and do research on the internet, none of the information is going to speak to my situation specifically.
So, the question that many of us might have is: are there professionals out there that writers can hire to do the business/ career decision portion of an agents job? Are there people that, for a fee, will look over a writer’s work, experience, platform, awards, etc. and help determine where they are and what possible steps they should take? My goal is to find someone who knows what they’re doing and can objectively give me advice. Do you know anyone in the industry who offers this service?
Yes, there are publishing consultants and others who help writers. Many of them function as freelance editors in addition to general consulting, so you can start by looking at the websites of the freelance editors I list on my blog. (Click on Popular Posts above.) You can also start asking around – you can be sure many writers have worked with consultants. This is one of the reasons networking is so important! You might find a good recommendation.
There’s a difficulty with this, though. It’s hard to find someone you can trust to know what they’re talking about in a consultancy like this. You need to be satisfied that they have their finger on the pulse of the industry. Read their blogs and make sure you get a good feel for how savvy they are. (Anyone can call themselves a consultant, right?)
An agent is able to give this kind of guidance for several reasons: Not only do they know the industry, but they know you and are familiar with what you want and where you want to go. In addition – and this is a big difference between an agent and a one-time consultant – an agent doesn’t get paid to simply give advice. Rather, they only get paid when you get paid. In other words, the agent’s own livelihood is tied to the quality of the advice they give you. So they’re highly motivated to seriously think through your options, your body of work, your platform and personality, and advise you in a direction that will lead to success.
However, an agent’s advice isn’t necessarily self-serving. I’ve advised several clients to take certain books to small indie publishers (very little money); I’ve advised others to take certain books to self-publishing (without my involvement, financial or otherwise.) I try to advise each client based on what their goals are, not on what will make me the most money.
In any case, be sure to do your homework before you hire a consultant! Make sure they not only know the industry, but they take seriously the need to get to know you and your body of work before giving you any advice.
Hope that helps!
Q4U: Writers, have you used anyone in a consultant role? How have you managed to get the guidance and advice you’ve needed so far?