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Show Your “Plus” Side (Day 22)

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Good morning everyone! Wow, I can’t believe we are on the home stretch of this series. Thank you to everyone who has shared 31 Ways to Snag an Agent over social media, and also a big thank you to everyone who has grabbed a phone consult. I’m so glad you’re still reading and learning, and I hope the series has been a help to you.

When you get a book published, your book directly competes with other books in the marketplace. The competition is huge. Your book competes with other published works from your same publishing house. Your book competes with other published works outside your publishing house. New books compete with other new releases, and even old titles. And every single book out there competes with the other things that a potential reader could buy with their money. Not only do you have to compete with other authors, but authors have to write stories so impressive that a reader is willing to take some of their excess cash and purchase your book with it, instead of something else.

In this same way, the competition to snag an agent is high. You are competing with authors both old and new. The goal is to write something so outstanding that it stands out to an agent. But, what about the competition among the other excellent storytellers? In the past few years, I’ve not really met any “bad” storytellers. Everyone is pretty good. But, pretty good won’t get you to the top of the stack. And excellent is amazing, but, excellent is not always enough.

Let’s look at how shows like American Idol or The Voice work to find their winner. I love what reality competitions can teach writers. There are tons of talented people who the show sends home, contestants we never even get to meet. I would bet that most people who try out for these shows are excellent singers. The show filters and sifts through thousands of people in order to narrow down to around 24 contestants, and the cutting continues. Eventually, the show over time, whittles the talent down to an outstanding four singers. All the while, the contestants are sent home for various reasons. Some have weak performances when it needed to count, some have outside forces (sickness/life issues) get in the way of their appearances on the show. Eventually, it’s the “other factors” that shift the audience to cast votes for one contestant over another. The competition gets boiled down to excellent singing PLUS all sorts of other factors—charisma, marketability, song choice, writing ability, appearance, professionalism. All of these factors come together to pick the absolute #1 winner. Were they all excellent singers? Yes. But, were they all the winners of The Voice? No.

So, where does that leave you as a writer? You need to figure out a way to showcase your “other” talents. Your PLUS attributes. Are you a superior marketer? An amazing marketer plus an amazing writer might be enough to tip the scale for an agent. Are you a former editor of a magazine? Your editorial skills plus being a superior writer, might be enough to turn an agent’s head. Are you personable and awesome at relationships, then show an agent that side of you. Sell yourself. When you sell yourself, and show case all that you have to offer as a business partner and person, then you won’t sell yourself short when it comes to trying to get an agent to represent you.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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Take the offer in a timely manner (Day 21)

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I just got back from Allume. Did you go? I had a great time meeting with editors and prospective clients. And Greenville was awesome as well. So, today I’m keeping it short and sweet. How long is too long to wait to tell an agent yes if they’ve offered you a contract? I’ll tell you this: sometimes I’ve waited on people for years after we’ve discussed their project, and the door was still open to them when they returned. When I said I wanted to represent them, I meant it. And so, I didn’t care that it took them a year to get their ducks in a row. However, there have been times, when I’ve gone to a conference to fill 1 or 2 spots only. If I offer someone a spot and they delay or don’t seem too interested, then I’ll fill it with my third choice. The reality is that agents often have a certain number of holes to fill, and once they do, the door closes for a season. And sometimes that door closes forever.

Think about this. If I’m dying to have a Southern foodie on my list, I find four at a conference. I pick my favorite, offer them representation, and then they tell me they need a few months to decide, I might not have a few months. I’ll also think that they are probably talking with other agents, or at least aren’t entirely convinced that I’m the agent for them. So, naturally, I’ll give them some time and eventually move on to choice number two. So, if you “really” want to snag an agent, and the agent you want has offered to work with you, try to tell them yes in a timely manner or the offer might get pulled off the table.

Do you have any questions you’d like me to address in the next 11 days? Feel free to email me at: jessieekirkland@gmail.com

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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Self-Publish Well (Day 20)

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If you’ve never heard of Nicole Deese, you have no excuse now. I remember the day fondly when Nicole was giving me the “future client eye” while I was answering questions on an agent panel at a conference. Nicole was sitting in the last seat on the main aisle and happened to be right in my line of sight. Every time I would answer a question, I’d see Nicole nodding and casting her “sign Nicole” vibes my direction. She had also been hanging around some of my clients, so each time I said hey to one of them, there was Nicole. In a completely non-creepy way, Nicole was everywhere. Nodding. Hanging. Sending her vibes.

Eventually, Nicole’s appointment time was here. And when she sat down, I was amazed at her track record. Her Letting Go Series had been in the hands of over 100,000 readers. And the covers were awesome. And she had written three books in 9 months. And the reviews were off the charts. Nicole had self-published very, very well.

I love people who self-publish well. Those who self-publish well are usually amazing marketers, hard workers, and have a keen sense of detail and creative vision. I love these types of writers. I love being friends with them and I love signing them. Self-publishing can be disastrous for some people. I have very strict rules about when I would advise someone to take this path, and when I would tell them to stay very far away. But, when you self-publish well, you are appealing to me. What I’m not interested in is the book you’ve already self-published. What I am interested in, is you and your next big book idea.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

Posted in Writing | Comments Off on Self-Publish Well (Day 20)

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