Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Today's Tip: What To Do Post-Proposal

When our writers finish a proposal, they often breathe a heavy sigh of relief -- until they realize that their work has really just begun.  Often the proposal is the first step in a long journey, and the pivotal part is what comes after.  Public speaking guru Nick Morgan shares his post-proposal tips on how to make this process a little less daunting.  We've shared these tips with a few of our writers and asked them to let us in on their own, and here's what we got:

SAMANTHA MARSHALL:  It's solid advice. I would only add that if you are a brand new author, you might want to consider going with a smaller, boutique agency rather than some big firm where you are more likely to get lost among all the heavy hitters. There are plenty of good, small and mid-sized agents who can boast award winning books and best sellers in their mix, but still know a gem when they see one. You can find them on the website www.publishersmarketplace.com

Marshall, a Gotham team member, is a professional ghostwriter.  You can find her work at www.samanthamarshallghostwriter.com.

RUSTY FISCHER:  I would basically add that while it's ideal to go after Malcolm Gladwell's agent -- and why not start at the top? -- not to stop there if he or she blows you off. I have placed clients with the biggest of agents and the relatively small, one-agent shops and the experience always comes down to the relationship between the author and the agent, regardless of size.

For me, a good -- perhaps even small -- agent with connections at business publishers who treats you as a priority beats a huge agent with the same connections (or even better) who can barely remember your name. After all, if that big agent with all those connections doesn't push or fight or make you a priority, what good are his connections in the first place?

Talk to agents who are interested, have a list of questions that are important to you and get answers for them, either on the phone or through email (agents are busy; make it easy on them). The agent with whom you have the best connection and who "gets" you and your priorities for this book will likely be your best choice.

Lastly, I would add that if NO agent picks you up, it still doesn't mean you're dead in the water, creatively speaking. Many VERY decent business publishers do, in fact, have open submission policies where you don't need an agent to submit, up to and including industry heavyweights like McGraw-Hill and Kaplan Publishing (last time I checked). Even Harvard Business Press has an open submission policy, and very helpful guidelines for submitting a proposal on their website. Of course, it's always better to have a qualified agent hammer out the best deal possible for you, but it's much easier to find an agent with a book deal already in hand!

Fischer, a Gotham team member, is the co-author of Secrets of Retailing: Or, How to Beat Wal-Mart (Silverback Books).

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