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Most writers, whether they admit it or not, would love to have a good agent representing their work. Not having to search for markets allows more time for writers to do what they do best – write!

In the search for an agent, writers are told to look for agents who represent work similar to their writing. This advice is almost always followed by a warning: “But make sure your manuscript isn’t too similar to books already represented by that agent.” Hmm, there seems to be a contradiction here.

I saw an link to an informative post on the subject at the Jennifer Represents blog. And for my readers who are writers, there are more great posts from an agent’s perspective on this blog.

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Vonnie at Carroll County Farmer's Market When I started the writing journey, I thought I had a clear picture of the book publishing world. Wrong!

I slid into book publishing via my work as an illustrator. I was lucky enough to stand next to an indie author in aerobics class who’d lost her illustrator suddenly. She was telling me about her plight, and I mentioned I was an illustrator. Many hours and illos later, her book (with my illos) was picked up by a major publisher, and I ended up illustrating her 8 books with Prima Publishing.

When it came to my 1st book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, again I slid into book publishing. This time, I was set to design, typeset, and layout a book for the Vegetarian Resource Group (an Indie Press). The author bowed out at the last moment, and my book project slipped into her publishing slot.

Nowadays, I slog along with the rest of the small press authors. A couple of things I’ve learned: few people know your books (even if you’ve sold thousands) and even fewer know your name. You can’t convince someone to like your book, and it’s difficult to convince them to buy your book unless they already read the type of book you’re writing.

A few more lessons learned about book publishing: Friends of friends or family members will ask you to read and critique their book (for free) on a regular basis. You need to find a nice way to say, “No.” Your writing time is valuable (and limited), so you need to focus on your own writing. I often suggest a writers’ group or class for peer input.

Countless people will talk to you at an author’s event or signing about the idea they have for a great book, then ask if you’d like to write it for them. Again, the answer is “No.” If the idea is worth writing about, they need to write their own book. They’re the person with the passion about the idea – not you.

Also, people want to learn the secret to getting their book published. To which I always answer: “Hard work, persistence, and a little luck.” I wish there was a secret I could share which would quickly get their book on a fast track to publication, but there isn’t one.

And remember, free candy will always attract potential customers to your book display at an event. 🙂

Lastly, librarians and Indie bookstore clerks are a small press author’s friends. These are people who care about books and readers.

An interesting article on the subject, 24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing, adds to my ideas and is well worth the read.

Find my books on Amazon and elsewhere. Happy reading!

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© 2013 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com Thanks to author-editor Katherine Pickett for stopping by and sharing some thoughts about writers, the writing community, and life. Enjoy! (By the way, in 2 weeks, Katherine will return with information about agents).

Give More than You Take by Katherine Pickett

“Human beings can tend toward the selfish side, taking from others more than they give out or giving only so they can get something in return. This is particularly true when resources are slim and people become concerned that their livelihood is at stake. This phenomenon plays out on the large and small scale, and the writing community offers one excellent case study of how it happens and why it is not the best approach when trying to achieve personal and professional success. Don’t be one of these people. Give more than you get. When you do that, your writing will be improved and so will your relationships.

Read Other People’s Writing
Many writers spend their time reading their own work, rarely looking up long enough to read something from someone else. However, reading other writers is a great way to improve your own writing. Offering your time as a beta reader is one way to do this. Reading one of the many literary journals available to you is another. Before you submit your next flash fiction or essay for consideration, take the time to read the other authors included in the journal. Read related journals as well, and think about how you can learn from those who have gone before you.

Buy Other People’s Books
PerfectBound-cov1-600x900 Some writing communities are home exclusively to budding writers, while others also include traditionally and self-published authors. It’s easy to feel competitive with the ones who have already reached what you yourself are striving for. You may feel tempted to tear down what they have done, perhaps feeling they had some unfair advantage or their book really isn’t all that good. The negativity this generates takes its toll on you as well as those around you. Instead, support these writers by purchasing their book and sharing it with others. Add to their success rather than knocking it down. This is the essence of community.

Turn Off the Self-Promotion
We get it: you have a book coming out or a manuscript to sell or a signing to host. Now turn off the self-promotion and start paying attention to what other people are doing. Once again, it’s about supporting those in your community. Contrary to what some people think, there are no self-made men. We have to engage with the world in a meaningful way if we want to achieve any level of success that matters. Attend someone else’s signing. Help get the word out about someone else’s news. Be involved in more than your own small world. Then notice how many more opportunities come your way because you were willing to get involved.

Erase the Scoreboard
‘Tit for tat.’ That is the attitude some writers seem to have when they decide whom to help and whom to ignore. When you support someone in a tangible way, it is normal to expect a little support yourself down the road. However, that is not the reason to do something nice for a fellow writer or other publishing professional. Rather than keeping score with each good deed you do for someone else, waiting to cash in that favor, put good things out into the world and let them go. People can tell when you have an ulterior motive, and it’s a turnoff. Give selflessly and others will notice that too. You may not get back exactly what you put into your relationships, but it will likely be more valuable than whatever tangible gift you have given.

When you’re trying to ‘make it,’ it’s easy to become self-absorbed. With every new person you meet you may think, ‘How can this person help me get where I want to be?’ The thing is, life is much more enjoyable when you turn that around. So, when you receive help with writing opportunities, speaking engagements, a new job or publication in a coveted journal do what you can to return that to the universe. I truly believe giving more than you get makes for a much more rewarding life and career.”

Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services, LLC and the author of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro from www.HopOnPublishing.com  Since 1999 she has edited more than 300 books in a wide range of topics and genres. She is an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association and the St. Louis Publishers Association, and is president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

Want to discover more about Katherine Pickett and Perfect Bound? Visit her blog and follow her on twitter.

And you can purchase Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro on Amazon.

Thanks again to Katherine Pickett for her wonderful guest post. Make sure to stop back on Monday, September 8, for an excerpt about agents from Perfect Bound. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Saturday Owl posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a pay-it-forward day! – Vonnie

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