So you can read my books

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


One sentence answer :

Make the sale for her.

Before you get your hackles up, bear with me for a second.

I didn't say it was fair. It's just how to get an agent fast. You make the sale yourself.

Then why do you need agents in the first place?

Cliff Notes answer : Most publishers won't look at you without one. Agents will fight for you to get more money for a long list of rights you know nothing about, and when your editor moves on, your agent will make sure you're not shoved to the bottom of the stack (which you will be if you don't have an agent.)

All right. How do you make the sale for them?

1) Make your own market :
Conventional wisdom says start your own blog. Be unconventional. Make the "Pet Rock" of blogs. How?

You do daily posts. Don't groan. You need to build a following. Daily posts will do that for you.

You make short posts for shorter attention spans.

You make each one funny. Be the Christopher Moore of blogdom. How?

Nothing is shorter than a one panel cartoon. Create a zombie Ziggy (creation by Tom Wilson.) Call him "Nearly Dead Ned." Place him in a post-apocalyptic New York City.

First cartoon :
Ned is happily eating his own forefinger. The caption reads : "The trouble with finger sandwiches is that none are as good as homemade."

Second cartoon :
Ned is looking odd at a cobwebbed skeleton by a doorway. The skeleton is wearing sunglasses and a badge " Help the Blind." The skeleton is pressing a door buzzer under a sign which reads : "School for the Deaf."

Third cartoon :
Ned is lumbering down a street in the red light district. He has passed two bars. One advertises : "Live Nudes." The second : "Undead Nudes."
Ned is stopped in front of the third with his now classic puzzled look. Its window reads : "Don't Ask."

You do a year's worth of cartoons. Pick the ones with the largest number of favorable comments. Bind them up and submit to agents with the comments to each attached, along with the daily stats for your blog.

{Now, obviously this is just an example of an unconventional "Pet Rock" blog. You have to use your own muse to take off and run with the concept.}

2) Fan the flames of off-line and on-line interest :
Get multiple college newspaper reviews of your novel. Guest-blog on others' more popular blogs. {As Anne Gallagher has done in her insightful article on the popular GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS : }

Get a local reporter to do a review of your novel for your local newspaper. Hopscotch that into another review from the newspaper of a near-by town.

3) Make a book trailer of your novel.
Using the students from a local university, create a book trailer. Utilize public domain music and images. Splice the images with teases from your novel. Put the book trailer on your blog and on YouTube. Advertise your book trailer on the blogs of your friends, in the local newspaper, and in the local college newspaper (hawking the fact that you used students from said college.)

4) Petition your local newspaper and those free newspapers at the doors to every grocery store to do free reviews for upcoming books and movies. Keep a record of each and every article you do for different newpapers with names and dates.

5) Be sure you state all of the above quickly and tersely at the end of every query to every agent.

And there you have the five easy steps to get an agent fast. They might even work. May we all get agents faster than we believe possible.
{Cartoon by the comic genius, Chuck Ingwersen }
And a movie that succeeded due to its unconventional take on a classic subject is :


  1. That's a great post and you have you funny bit in there too.


  2. Thanks, Clarissa. It's nice to be appreciated. And boy, that was fast. I just put my post up.

  3. Excellent post. Us poor authors....we do SO MUCH WORK to complete a manuscript...and then we have to do so much more just to get it out there. Oh sigh. Our job is never done.

    But you broke it down nicely.

    Are you doing all these things?

    Love the comic by the way.

  4. I have another route but DID manage to get an agent unconventionally through a blog, and the 'blog daily, create your own brand, be entertaining' I think had something to do with it, but the route was TOTALLY backward.

    My VOICE fit a GENRE (cozy mystery in my case), recognized by an AUTHOR who writes it. Said author WATCHED me, noticed there was a WORK ETHIC that went with the voice (daily blog, reports of regular writing, hard work at trying to get published) and when her AGENT came to her with a project she didn't have time for, she gave ME the recommendation, so the agent was willing to take the chance. Sign on was for PROJECT ONLY, but i GOT IT--so though at the moment it is still a project only relationship, I have an agent relationship that when I feel one of my novels is whipped into shape (which at the moment I'm doubting--three need ONE GOOD revision first, the others need more) but I will have her eyes to either rep, or tell me what I need to do...

    So a little different, but definitely in support of 'querying' isn't the only route in.

  5. oh lord! I thought it all ended at "the end" and then, you know, magically, someone would publish it, and bring me to dinner! So I have to be socialable and entertaining! Oh dear! Enjoyed the post!

  6. Um... I sorta hoped my agent would do all that for me while I soaked in the new pool I'd just bought, eating bon bons.

  7. Good grief. There's so much to do besides just plain old writing to get your work published . . . ah well, nice post anyways! :)

  8. Loved the comic. Fun post and some good advice in there.

  9. Gosh - lots of hard work and being bold and brave!!!

    Good luck to all you fab writers doing all these. Great to read how Watery Tart got her agent too though - there is hope and luck out there - you just gotta be there to grab them!

    Take care

  10. Huh, that's really informative...filing this away for future use. Thanks for this post!

  11. Hey, I'm diggin' this blog. Lots of cool stuff.

    You writers have to work hard. Kind of a drag but, I guess if you really want something bad, you do what it takes.

  12. Fast being a relative term, right? :) Fun post.

  13. That was fun :)

    Zombies seem to be everywhere today!

  14. Great post, Roland. I think this may be my favorite Roland post yet! :-)

  15. In May, I went to a conference, and it didn't seem that dire. They said an on-line preference was a bonus, but not make or break. Recently, I read an agent's blog. She said she rather do the work getting the book deal. If the writer gets it first, it won't be as lucrative and may not be the best co. for the book.

    That said, we have to do more than writers did even ten years ago.

  16. Interesting stuff, appreciate the input. Not quite to the agent stage yet, but will keep this in mind.

  17. Could've sworn I commented earlier but, maybe not. Great post. The every day thing kicks my boody though. Hmmm...


  18. That was a great post, Roland. One more thing I've learned...the major parts of the proposal you put together and send to agents...they use in their proposal to editors.

    Only you know your book well enough to really sell it...make your proposal the best you can do.

  19. If I had time and energy for all that, I wouldn't need an agent. I'd self publish.

    Oh well; if I quit stressing about getting an agent, and getting published, I'd have more blogging/writing time. Trade off's appealing.


  20. Truly sound advice, especially about the emphasis on Zombies. They're big. And that movie was fantastic. I shall now follow this blog daily, what with cartoons to look at.

  21. Zombieland!!! LOVE it! As well as your agent-snatching tips. #5 hit close to home for me. My first query, though by no means TOO long, could've been shortened by half a page. And I finally did something about it. :)

  22. Awesome post about stealing an agent's attention and hilarious comics, too. I'll try putting some of your tips into action and see what works.

    Thanks for everything and write on!

    P.S. Zombieland is one of my all time favorite movies!

  23. I was just planning on posting a sign on my front door, "LITERARY AGENT WANTED." You don't think that will work?

    Nice post! Mark McVeigh (agent) said that your blog should have a theme or sorts something that makes people want to come back to it. He said to comment on 5 new blogs a day to help build your readership. He said Twitter, blog, fb and use any other media market you can to get your name out there...even before you have a sale. I think it's about having the same commitment to selling your story as you had to creating it.

  24. Thank you so much for the shout out Roland. My power was out for all of the day yesterday and didn't even see the post until I read your comment on my blog.

    I'm hoping one of the 2 agents who still have a partial will see it and know I'm serious about this writing thing. But likely they're busy. which is okay, I didn't write the article for them, I wrote it for us.