You’ve written a book. Hopefully you’ve passed it around and friends have told you it’s great. You decide to take the next step . . . but what is the next step?
In the past, it was get a literary agent, which is always nice. But today, that’s just one of a range of options which include
- post part of your work on a publisher’s “interactive” website (eg, HarperCollins’ authonomy.com)
- enter a publisher contest or reputable book award for which your work is qualified
- tweet or podcast your first chapter and gain a following, or try some other attention-drawing stunt
- create an ebook and sell it yourself or through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoogleBooks, iBooks
- use a reputable vanity press for the printing and market yourself like mad
- set up a publishing company and publish yourself.
- etc, etc, etc . . . .
Many authors jump straight to “literary agent” without giving it much thought because that’s been the traditional route. And it’s always great if you can land an agent. But, in case you hadn’t noticed — as with the closing of most brick and mortar bookstores — the publishing industry has changed. That can work to your book’s advantage (never take rejection of your book personally), especially if agents don’t like your work.
“Wait doesn’t not being able to get an agent mean my work sucks?”
In 1962, a literary agent gave up on a book after sending it around to 40 different publishers. She actually gave the book back to the author as unsellable. Later the author meets John Farrar, of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He reads it and decides to publish it — even though FSG doesn’t publish children’s title. The novel goes on to sell 10 million copies and make Madeleine L’Engle rich and her fantasy A Wrinkle in Time internationally famous.