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Posts Tagged ‘Katherine Pickett’

Authors both love and dread book signings. It is exciting to present your book (or books) to readers at a bookstore or other venue. You can’t wait to smile, sign a few books, shake a few hands, and meet your readers.

But every author (whether they admit it or not) dreads the thought of setting up a table, placing a stack of books and a pen for signing on it, and sitting for an hour with no one in line. Yes, it does happen.

An author tells a few friends, maybe posts to Facebook or some other social media site, and counts on the store to do all the promo. Then, few if any readers show up. Maybe, a reader already in the store will take pity on the author and stop by to chat. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, this reader will buy a copy of the book.

From my experiences, it takes a more personal invitation approach to attract readers to a book signing. In fact, if you can combine a brief, informative presentation with the signing – all the better. Also, it can help to have a signing with another writer so you can (hopefully) double your audience.

For some more great tips, read this recent post by writer friend, Katherine Pickett: What I Know About Book Signings.

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Thanks to author-editor Katherine Pickett for stopping by and sharing some information about agents. Enjoy! (In case you didn’t see it, last Monday, Katherine stopped by with a guest post about writers and writing communities. Not to be missed!)

To Sign or Not to Sign with an Agent – Excerpt from Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Industry Like a Pro by Katherine Pickett

© 2013 | Kristina Sherk Photography | www.Kristinasherk.com “’Do I need an agent?’ I hear this question frequently from aspiring authors, many times with a tinge of fear in their voices that I might say yes. Agents mean having an expert on your side to get you noticed and to assist with negotiations. But they also mean adding one more gatekeeper to the mix. Can’t you get your book published without one? That depends on which publishing route you choose, which genre you write in, and which publisher you approach. Nonfiction writers have a slightly easier time getting a publisher without an agent than fiction writers; if you are writing fiction, you will almost certainly need an agent if you want to go through a publishing house.

While some university presses and small publishing houses are open to unagented manuscripts, they are becoming fewer and farther between. The so-called Big Five publishing houses—which include Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and Simon and Schuster—don’t accept anything without an agent. Each of these companies owns a dozen or more imprints that have their pick of books to pursue, and agents serve as a filter for the thousands of books that are submitted to them.

But what if you don’t want to work with an agent? You’re determined to find that small press that is willing to work with you as an individual. You don’t want to add the six months or a year that it can take to find an agent before you even reach a publisher, and you don’t know what the point of an agent is anyway. You are going to approach publishers directly. This is a viable option, and one that has worked well for many authors. But before you rule out agents entirely, you should know what signing with an agent means for you.

‘Generally speaking, an agented project will be picked up or rejected by most publishers within two to three weeks of submission,’ write Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato, authors of Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction—and Get It Published.  That’s compared to six months for a response for unagented works. Agents get your book noticed, and they get personalized responses. This kind of attention can speed up the acquisitions process considerably. There are many other pros and cons as well, as shown in the following list.

You should know that agents:

Pros:
-Have established contacts within the industry
-Know best practices for preparing a proposal
-Are likely to get you a larger advance than you could get on your own
-Can negotiate terms of the contract that you may not entirely understand (e.g., foreign rights, subsidiary rights, royalty structure)
-Track your royalties and ensure you get paid
-Act as your advocate if problems arise between you and the publishing house

Cons:
-Are another layer of gatekeeping
-Can add six months to a year to the process
-Take 15 to 20 percent of your advance

Beyond the cons listed here, fear of rejection seems to be one of the biggest holdups for aspiring authors. For whatever reason, it is less scary for many authors to skip the agent and go straight to the source. The decision is yours to make, but I have always felt, what is the harm in testing the waters? Your ultimate goal is getting your high-quality, highly marketable book in front of readers, and an agent may be able to help.

Pinpoint the agents most likely to be interested in your work and see what happens. Maybe agents aren’t interested in what you have to offer. But you might be surprised. If agents respond to you, you can decide from there whether you want to pursue the professional relationship. If no one responds, then you have more information about the amount of work you need to do to self-publish or to find another route. And while you are doing that, you can continue writing and polishing your manuscript.

I must note, however, that it is false to think that any agent is better than no agent. There are predatory agents out there. Protect yourself by educating yourself and working only with people you trust. You should not sign with someone who wants money up front, whether he or she calls it a reading fee, an evaluation fee, or any other name. Reputable agents do not get paid until they sell your manuscript. The article “How to Find a (Real!) Literary Agent” by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America advises that good agents will list recent book placements on their website; are accessible by means other than just e-mail; and won’t try to sell you on other services. Membership in the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) , the trade group for US literary agents, is also a plus. AAR has a searchable database that you can use to determine if your prospective agent is a member.”

PerfectBound-cov1-600x900 Katherine Pickett is the owner of POP Editorial Services,  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 informative guest post. Make sure to check out last Monday’s post on writing from Katherine. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Saturday Owl posts, blogs from me, and more. Have a great day! – Vonnie

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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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