Writers sometimes ask me whether I have any tips for how to find a publisher or an agent, beyond the usual (looking at the annual Writer’s Market or Writer’s Yearbook, etc.).
My number one answer is: keep your eyes open to see where things are changing.
For instance, here’s a little item I saw recently in the Shelf Awareness newsletter:
“Prometheus Books has founded a new mystery and thriller imprint called Seventh Street Books that will begin issuing its first titles in a year. Dan Mayer, former mystery buyer for Barnes & Noble, has joined the imprint as editorial director.”
If I had a mystery or thriller that I was hoping to place with a publisher, this would send me into action. First, I’d look up the Prometheus Books web site to see whether it has any further information about this new imprint, especially about whether or not they are considering submissions and any guidelines.
If they were, I’d send Mr. Mayer a query letter right away. If not, I might send him one anyway—nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Whenever a publisher starts a new imprint, a new agency opens up, or an agent goes from one agency to another—these are the prime times for you to approach them.
She asked for more information about what I had in mind.
I sent a proposal, she gave me feedback on how to make the intended book fit their needs better, and it ended in a deal for my book, “Focus: use the power of targeted thinking to get more done.”
It has gone into two editions, multiple foreign editions, and I think total sales are around 50,000. (The related website is www.FocusQuick.com.)
Based on that, they asked me to do another book—this time the idea came from them—which was “Marketing for Entrepreneurs.” They also asked me to be series editor for the other five books in the “for Entrepreneurs” series and I also illustrated four of them. (The associated website is www.forentrepreneursbooks.com)
Then I pitched “Creativity Now!” which comes out in a second, expanded edition next year. (If you go to www.jurgenwolff.com and click on the Creativity Now book cover, you’ll see the bonuses that go with the book.)
It all started when I spotted that opportunity and followed it up. Does it work out every time? Of course not. I’ve also made lots of inquiries that led nowhere. But as you can see, the right one can pay off handsomely.
(There are many more tips on how to market your writing in my book, "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey. You can get it now from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)