Let it be known that I am not a professional. I’m not an agent nor am I a publishing company. Although I do have very strong opinions that I’m not afraid to express. Often. Sometimes unsolicited. That being said, there’s no accounting for taste so if you truly want to write and be published, your number one skill must be persistance. You should probably be a decent writer but, in all honesty, that doesn’t seem to matter as much as having a great idea and again, persistance. OR you need to have a strong voice.
What do I mean when I talk about a strong voice? When you read someone’s blog, what keeps you coming back? Let’s just say that not one person whose blog you read is ever going to be your friend on the Web or off. Let’s just presume that you are reading strictly for your own enjoyment and not reading your friend’s blog about their cat just because they loyally comment on yours. Now. Think about those blogs that speak to you. Why do they speak to you? Are they highly personal? Are they funny? Are they snarky? I will guarantee you that no matter what they are, they have a consistant voice. A point of view. A world view that most of their posts fall under.
This is what you need to write a book.
Here is how a book is very different than a blog: A book doesn’t presume that people know what the hell is going on in your life. A book doesn’t care how hilarious your life is with four kids at home and no outside help. It’s like when I used to do stand-up and people would say to me, “you should come to my house/job/etc. because hilarious stuff happens.” Really? but what’s the joke? My point is, if you had to be there, it’s not funny.
Okay, so let’s just say you have a strong point of view – now you need a story to tell be it your own (memoir), someone else’s (novel) helpful hints (self-help, how-to) or even essays (funny stories, memoiresqe).
For a couple of examples of what I think is a book go to Immoral Matriarch her posts called Dance, Dance are a book. Or try Crystal’s blog and read through her Crazy Chronicles. Those are both examples of good writers who also have a story to tell.
Here’s the hard part: you have all that. Now you need a connection. You don’t need to bust your balls going to the library and buying a book on writing proposals etc. No one is going to read your proposal from sending it out cold anyway. I say, have a few chapters that really showcase your voice, then find someone who knows someone who can refer you to their agent. You need a referral. Seriously. I can’t stress enough the importance of being bold and asking for help. But ask for help from people you do know at least a little bit and be prepared for them to say no. Did I pop your balloon? Sorry. It is possible to get an agent by cold calling but I don’t believe you need an official proposal. Just have some of your best writing and email it to agencies that say they are open to new clients. Run your chapters by someone first though to make sure you aren’t sending something that’s not quite its best.
It’s like this in any business right? If you send out a ton of resumes to companies who aren’t hiring, you probably won’t get a meeting. But, if a friend refers you, even if the company isn’t hiring they may just meet you anyway and then you’ll blow them away with your charm and wit and beauty, oh and willingness to put out.
Once you’ve gotten an agent – any agent by the way – to look at your work – be prepared for them to say “not interested” but they may know another agent who will take a look.
Once you have an agent interested, you may need to write a proposal. NOW you can get the book but make sure it’s not written super serious and business like. Nobody wants to read that crap. I don’t care what the agent says. I know better. Make it fun to read.
Okay, questions? Comments?
tomorrow I will have a guest poster named Claudine Wolk who wrote the book It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Moms. She self published although now she has a fancy book deal and is going to tell us all about the self publishing way to go.