Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A book publicist's perspective on getting published.

Sometimes, during a book promotion campaign, I run across an editor with a couple of manuscripts in the closet who takes a deep breath for courage and then asks, "are you by any chance a literary agent as well as a book publicist?"

I always take the time to offer my thoughts to anyone who wants advice on how to get published. In a nutshell, my advice is: don't.

Maybe my point of view will be clearer if I offer part of the emailed response I sent to an editor this morning:

Although I'm not a literary agent, I can refer you to the Association of Authors' Representatives. You can find them online at http://www.aar-online.org/. An agent would certainly be interested in working with your titles, particularly, if you emphasize your credentials (someone with a 35-year background in journalism would have to taken seriously by an agent).

However, my particular bias is against waiting to "be published" and to self publish. I encounter a stigma from the media not toward self-published books in general but specifically toward books that are published by a print-on-demand press (that is, iUniverse, xlibris, PublishAmerica, and so on). When authors set up their own imprint, and create their own track records in terms of quality and content -- and if they get distribution, which is easy to do when they sign up with online bookstores in addition to using a printer that is part of Ingram and which is called Lightning Source (they're based in Tennessee, and you can find them online at http://www.lightningsource.com) -- then their works are on a level playing field with those published by major houses. In fact, their books are perhaps in an even better position because self-published authors don't get tired of their books in a month or two, and they stick with them, and promote them, and that effort can pay off over the long term. There are gazillions of self-published books out there, and it's a competitive arena -- but, from where I'm sitting, it surely beats passively waiting for a literary agent to sell the book to a publishing company. Self-publishing sounds difficult and overwhelming, and it brings to mind the world of vanity publishing, but that is not what it is at all, and that's not how it's perceived. The new technologies that are available to us all have changed the landscape of publishing, for the better, I believe.

Anyway, I hope this information helps a bit. Do check out the resources I've mentioned, and let me know what you decide to do...

Agree or disagree, that's my position on "waiting to get published." As you can tell, this book publicist doesn't appreciate having to "wait" for anything. She's committed to being proactive, whenever possible, and to getting results!

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