Thursdays with Amanda: Questions from Last Night’s GET PUBLISHED Teleseminar
April 11, 2013 | Written by Amanda Luedeke
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon andBarnes & Noble.
Last night was our GET PUBLISHED teleseminar with Michael Hyatt. What a great time, talking business and answering questions! It was a blast.
We weren’t able to get to some of the submitted questions, so I’ve gone ahead and answered them below. Would love your thoughts on what was discussed during the teleseminar, or what is talked about below.
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Okay, on to those questions!
Brooke asks: What makes an agent take a chance on a first-time author?
When we fall in love with a fiction author’s story idea and writing, or when we see the potential of the book idea, writing, AND platform of a nonfiction author.
Mark asks: What do you think about publishing a “book” as a series of blog postings over time, or self-publishing a free e-book, rather than through traditional publishers? If the purpose is to gain readers/audience, what is the best way to collect that information? And then what do you do with it (esp in terms of monetization)?
I think this can be a great idea of done right (great cover, professionally edited, targeted to a focused audience). If you publish through an epublishing site, you should keep track of your sales numbers, and in terms of monetizing it, you’ll be able to set a price for your items, which will make the whole thing a bit more worth your while.
Terri asks: What are the most effective ways to attract your audience to a blog or website? I’ve previously produced blogs and ended up spending too much time on the content compared to the number of views received. Also, what recommendations do you have on balancing the time demands of building platform vs. completing works in progress?
First, it takes time to grow a readership. I don’t know how long you pursued your blog, but it’s going to take 1-2 years or more to build a solid following. There are many ways to grow a readership (I have a whole section on this in my book), but the easiest is to find other blogs that hit the same readership as your own and spend time there leaving comments and interacting with others. You can also do giveaways, include the right SEO, and attend blogging conferences where you can team up with other bloggers and present a unified front. Really, the ideas go on and on.
If you’re serious about growing your blog, you should spend half your time writing and the other half going out and getting your readers. Depending on how long it takes you to craft a blog post, this could be tricky. But if it takes you an hour to write a post, you may want to spend an afternoon knocking a bunch out and then 30 or 45 minutes every day, going out and interacting with your potential audience.
Melissa asks: We see many big name authors supplementing their income by self-publishing titles themselves along with their traditional books, at what point do you think authors should consider this route? Do you think it will harm their career or enhance it?
I think this is a great idea if they do it right and are willing to pay for a great cover, great edit, etc. Too many authors dial it in. It needs to be professionally done, but then they also need to realize that in order for the book to be a success, they need to promote it like crazy—no one is going to stumble upon the book on a store shelf. And of course they also need to make sure that epublishing won’t violate any contracts they have with publishers.
Anne asks: Please comment on how the rapid changes in publishing, stimulated by e-publishing, have affected quality, increased competition, and whether this necessitates amp-ing it up with a paid edit before submission.
There’s a lot more competition all around, but I don’t think paying an editor to clean up your manuscript is the solution. I think hunkering down and truly learning the craft and taking time with your ms is where it’s at. Too many authors want to write only one or two drafts and then be done. The business requires more than that these days…especially if you’re a debut author.
C asks: I’ve had five commercially-published romance novels and I can’t seem to get another contract. Would you recommend my self-publishing some e-books (romance novellas)?
Absolutely. You don’t want to lose your current readership, and you need to make money. If your agent supports it, I think this is a great option. But don’t do it flippantly. Be serious about it, because if your sales are strong enough this could help you get back in with a traditional house.
Jeremy asks: I’ve been looking for an agent for my first ms via the query method with no success. I have been thinking about going to a conference, but the cost is quite high. Is there any other way to acquire an agent for the Christian Market? Are conferences worth the expense?
Conferences are absolutely worth the expense, and there are so many that there’s probably one relatively close to you. It’s only at a conference that I can truly feel comfortable with the authors who are pitching me, and I’m much more likely to sign someone after meeting them at a conference than if I were to simply read a query from them. It’s that face-to-face aspect that changes everything.
Greg asks: It seems that literary agents are very busy and as a first time author how do we get their attention?
Try to attend a conference or see if we’re active on Twitter and other social media sites. But still…conferences are where it’s at.
Jane asks: I heard a popular author say that you don’t have to be a GREAT writer, just persistent. Do you agree or disagree?
If we’re talking about having a traditional publishing career, then I disagree. Editors have a lot on their plate, and more and more they’re looking for projects that require minimal edits. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but overall, a GREAT manuscript has much more potential than a so-so manuscript written by a persistent author.
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