08 . 21 . 08
I’m usually the one who’s dolling out advice and recommendations, but now I’m turning to my trusty readers for literary agent recommendations for myself and a few friends for some fabulous non-fiction book ideas. Please email me if you have any suggestions. And who know, maybe we’ll give you a small percentage of the deal!
maybe you/your friends have to be more specific as to what sort of work you want to cover, as agents are often very limited in what they choose to cover/take on. then some may offer you what i believe should be off the blog comment board suggestions. best regards.
In the Trade – I hesitate to be very specific since I don’t want anyone stealing our ideas but obviously one would be somewhat design related, another beauty and one could be described as new age-ish.
Obviously, I would prefer if people emailed me. I’ve contacted quite a few people and no one has gotten back to me which I why I posted the need.
Heather–furthering what In the Trade has written above, go thru books that you love that are somewhat similar to what you want to write. Read the acknowledgments in each of these books. 99% of the time the agent will be mentioned in the acknowledgment. I bet you start to see the same agent/agents pop up quite often. That’s who you’ll then want to approach. Also, go to a library and look in LITERARY MARKET PLACE for agent names/specialties/addresses etc. Buy yourself a copy of the 2008 WRITER’S MARKET. Before you approach any agent, make sure that you have put together a complete proposal.
i have seen one wretched occasion where less than scrupulous editors and agents from a major art press had blatantly ripped off ideas for books and an exhibition (at a renowned british museum no less). they had sent the people to get all the research from this hopeful, but later said they couldn’t do anything with it for this and that reason- which was slowly revealed that the editor proceeded to recruit their own people and make the whole book/show for themselves with no credit at all. when i saw this hopeful and showed him the book of the exhibition, he said, “so that’s what happened to that idea”.
so be careful. best regards.
Thanks Mary! This whole process seems a bit secretive. I know so many people with great ideas but can’t find agents.
also most of these so called professionals are busy galavanting about. so even if you send them an email, phone them, deliver a package to them etc, you may never get a response (unless you were personally recommended by so and so, which is unfortunate).
in the offices i used to work for, i would rarely see the chief agents. just their assistants doing the grunt work. they usually get inundated with calls, for this and that reason. but when it comes time for glory, you know where they are- hogging the limelight.
sorry to go on, but your blog is at most times very special and i am keen to see you succeed in this field, especially when so many others with not much talent get by on their connections alone.
In the Trade – How awful! But not surprising! This is why I am keeping my idea a secret. Do you think I should completely write the whole thing or part of it before I submit it? I’m not sure what would work better.
In the Trade, Thanks for your concern! As a New Yorker, I’ve learned to be leary and research anyone I get involved with, especially when money is involved!
i think that before you submit anything, especially something unsolicited and also to somebody (somebodies) whom you probably do not know, there is much caution that you need to take. perhaps a better play at the moment is to flesh out your/your friends/creative partners’ ideas more into a visual and written form (not just dummy copy), maybe just two or three chapters so you yourselves have the right sense what you really want to do with it. making a final draft takes a lot of work and time, and it may wind up never seeing the light of day (if you mean to publish this in print form). sending a finished work is akin to i think raising the white flag of surrender, and this does not help leverage you when you are expecting an answer and hoping for a payday (although money i suspect is also not your primary consideration here). anyway, in the meantime, ask around the people you do know, and work that ‘six degrees of separation’ angle and perhaps someone may be able to direct you in the right way through a real connection- not just the as it always happens “i know somebody somebody who works in publishing” but in fact they just met them once at some party.
my dealings in this world now are mostly in the realm of fiction, but this game seems entirely different now compared to twenty years ago when i started- more a name recognition than any substance. i suspect it is the same for your field as i see all the tomes in the design section (especially those dealing with interiors etc) to be occupied by monographs of designers and their work (good or otherwise), or very general focus things (i.e., asian design, minimal design etc etc).
anyway, if i have anything better, i will email you personally. i hope your readers can come up with better ideas than what this somewhat jaded but still hopeful queen can think of this evening. good night.
It’s generally a good idea to have a strong outline written and a few sample chapters finished to show your writing ability and how you intend to flesh out your ideas. You also need to have some basic marketing work done – who is your target market, how does your book idea fill a niche or void, how would the book be marketed, etc. You also should show what you bring to the table as far as public profile (your blog, for instance). Be prepared with any interviews you’ve done, quotes in major media, etc.
Gloucestermary is right – read similar books and see who the authors are thanking.
Ultimately, it’s a trust. You will eventually have to share your idea with someone and hope it doesn’t get ripped off. But, if you find a list of names and they represent reputable authors with books published by reputable publishers – you are probably going to be ok.
Every blog writer is looking for an agent! Personal connections work best. We got our book deal for our tango book through an adult student who worked for the publisher, and passed along a body of work we had published in our tango magazine El Firulete. No agents were involved. They gave us the contract based on the writing samples from the magazine, and then we started on new material for the book idea they pitched to us – Gotta Tango. We were very lucky indeed. As always it comes down to knowing someone personally. Now I am trying to pitch a style book, and it’s hard out there for a style pimp LOL Best of luck, because you certainly have the talent and chops (and I would buy your book)! I think Maryam from My Marrekech just got a book deal simply from a publisher reading her blog, so fairy tales do come true. Maybe you should drop her a line and ask her your questions.
Good luck Heather – I think the advice you’ve been given so far sounds good. My husband is a writer/editor and he also suggests you write a thorough summary or outline of the book plus possibly some sample chapters. Depending on the publisher, you may not need an agent at all, and it may also not be necessary to do the marketing research others have suggested (not sure, maybe this is a US market requirement?) I also have a book idea cooking, so good luck to both of us, hey!