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Be Proactive About Growing Your Platform (Day 14)

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For the entire month of October, I will do as many 1/2 hour calls as there are people who raise their hands. Click here to learn more and sign up.

 

I can hear you all sighing from here. Behold, I’ve said it—the dreaded “P” word—PLATFORM. Wipe the sweat from your brow, and the frown from your face, this is the only thing you can do:

Be proactive about growing your platform. 

It’s true that I need authors to have a solid platform in order to sell them to publishers. Platform size does affect your ability to get a good book deal, but it’s not the only determining factor. Great writing, how unique your book idea is, your voice/style, are also extremely important. On this side of the table, I have seen authors with various size platforms get quality book deals. Yes, the big platform writers get larger advances, but I’ve sold a few people with little to no platform to their name. Now, when I’ve sold someone with a “small” platform in the past, it was because their story was not small. Sometimes, BIG story can get away with SMALL platform. Big stories are often related to how “unique” your story is. I mentioned Anna a few days ago. How many people have 50 brothers and sisters and ran away from a polygamist cult at age 13? Not many. This is what I call big story.

As an agent, of course it’s nice to find the writer who has it all: large platform, amazing story, and superior writing. But, these combinations can be rare. If you don’t have a huge platform, then I need you to be teachable and strategic with the platform you have. I can teach people how to grow their platforms. When I find authors who are constantly tweaking and trying new things to build their readership, that is a sign of someone who will have a long career. Because honestly, being proactive, is all you can do. You can’t make yourself go viral or we all would. You can simply keep writing content and keep moving forward. So, quit beating yourself up over the “P” word, learn your craft, be proactive, and eventually an agent will notice your hard work.

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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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Ask for an Appointment (Day 6)

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Good Monday morning, everyone! I’m so excited to have all of you tagging along for this series. You guys have been so welcoming and some of you are true rock stars in the social media sharing department. My blog is pretty new, so each share and follow is a blessing to me!

As I was looking at all the ways to snag an agent that I have planned for the next 31 days, it occurred to me that I may have missed a really large ‘to do’ when it comes to getting an agent. I was thinking about all of the people who say hello and seem to be sort of “waiting in the wings” at the conferences I go to. There are always people who pass me, maybe sit with me at a meal, and I can tell they want to talk about something, but they never do. I have left many meals thinking to myself, “Did she want to pitch? Hmm..maybe she’ll show up in an appointment.” Naturally, I assume these potential clients have an appointment with me, yet sometimes I wait for them to show up and they never do. We are not mind readers. There are so many people who just want their questions answered, so I never assume that if someone speaks to me that they automatically want representation. Truth be told, some people are just friendly.

A few weeks ago I hung out with an un-agented author for an entire weekend. We talked about her book and the premise sparked my interest. She was friends with one of my authors, and I could see how well she would fit on my client list. I knew she didn’t have an agent and for the first two days I wasn’t sure if she was ready for one. Then, we were chatting after dinner one night and she mentioned a few other agents that she had pitched in the past, and I thought “Oh, well apparently she is not interested in me representing her or she would have snagged an appointment with me.”  On day four, my client says to me, “Hey, she didn’t want to put you on the spot, but are you interested in seeing her one sheet?” Oh. She was interested? You see, I was interested in her, and she was interested in me, but the reason that got muddled was because she was not on my appointment list.  I had spent four days at the conference with her, and she didn’t meet with me in an official appointment, so my assumption when that happens will always be that those writers are probably pursuing other agents. This is fine, if it’s true.

All that to say, “Set an appointment to pitch your work with the agent you want, or they may never know you want them to represent you.”

If you try to get an appointment with an agent at a conference, and you aren’t able to snag one, email them directly and say something like this, “Hey, I’m attending (X Conference) and I tried really hard to get an appointment with you, but didn’t. Is there any way I could get 5 minutes of your time or maybe we could share a meal? Here is my cell. I am happy to text and find a place if you feel comfortable with that.”

If you aren’t quite ready, from a paperwork perspective to pitch to an agent, you can always set up a “get to know you” appointment. Of course, in a perfect world, I want people to come ready, but I also enjoy the writer who says “I’m not quite ready with my paper work, but this is who I am, this is my goal, and is this a project you might be interested in?” There is nothing wrong with that. Did you know that I set an appointment with Blythe that was a “get to know you/I have a few questions” kind of appointment, and 1 year later, that appointment got me a job?!??!?!

One last example of a type of appointment that you might not know about: the phone consult. A few times a year, I do a one month round of 30-minute phone appointments to help people get their questions answered. These are not free, as they help me pay for my gluten-free food and clothes for my triplets. No, seriously. Have you priced out a bag of gluten-free pretzels lately? Yeah, their like $8! So, for the entire month of October, I will do as many 1/2 hour calls as there are people who raise their hands. It’s pretty simple: You email me and say “I’m in!” and I send you a pay pal bill for $50 and we work out a date/time that works for us both to talk. Anytime, beyond these 1-month phone rounds the price is $100 for a 1/2 hour call.

I don’t know if other agents do this, but I love to do this. As I have mentioned before, I spent years just needing a handful of questions answered, and once I had those answered, I was on my way. That is what I want to do for people. I cannot represent everyone, but I might be able to help you answer your questions, so you can go find an agent that is a fit for you. Last August, I did one of these one-month phone consult rounds and I signed two people from the round of calls. It hasn’t always happened that way, but for that month, it did. One gal was the very lovely Francie Winslow? Have you met Francie before? She is an amazing speaker and woman of God. She called me to ask a few questions, which in turn caused me to ask her a few questions, and the rest is history. You should go check her out.

So, wherever you are, quit waiting in the wings and get out there and set up an appointment, be it a phone appointment or an appointment at a conference. Get brave and get your questions answered. And if you are interested in a phone appointment with me, please email me at: jessieekirkland@gmail.com and put “Phone Consult” in the subject line.

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31 Ways to Snag an Agent is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

 

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