Today, literary agent Mark Gottlieb chatted with Jo and Lindsay. He’s from the Trident Media Group and represents a lot of genres, including science fiction and fantasy. We asked him about getting an agent as a newer author and also as an established indie author with some titles under your belt.
Here are a few specifics of what we discussed:
Whether print-only deals are still a thing or a likely option for indie authors who sell well.
Whether most clients are coming out of the slush pile or if networking at workshops and conventions is important for getting an agent.
What kinds of rights (foreign rights, audio rights, film rights, etc.) are useful for indie authors to know about.
Whether getting a film deal or an “option” is really that lucrative, or if it’s mostly marketing to help an author sell more books.
The role of agents in a hybrid author’s career.
Whether the traditional publishing houses are signing as many authors as they used to, and if they’re fostering young authors’ careers.
If some sub-genres of science fiction and fantasy do better with self-publishing instead of traditional publishing.
What’s been trending the last couple of years with trad publishers and what they’re looking for now in the science fiction and fantasy genres.
Whether it’s better to query with a series that’s in the middle and selling well, or if you should pitch something brand new.
If it’s possible to get an agent and a publishing deal when your self-published book or books did not sell well.
How much advertising a trad publisher is going to put behind a typical author.
How much marketing you’re expected to do for yourself when you trad publish.
On today’s show, we chatted with return guest, urban fantasy author, Annie Bellet. She first visited us on show 33. Since then, she’s published her earnings on her blog (she made over $250,000 in 2015) and taken on an agent and a publisher for a print-only deal (she kept her ebook rights).
Here are some of the things we discussed:
Leveraging self-publishing success to get an agent
How to choose an agent if you’re lucky enough to get some nibbles (and when you might want to pass)
Whether traditional publishers are open right now to print only deals
Whether trad publishers are currently likely to be interested in series that were previously self published
What stats/bragging rights you should have prepared to share that might interest an agent
Keeping a series alive and selling even when releases aren’t as frequent as you’d like
Whether permafree or 99-cent Book 1s are still working to help get people into a series
Staying wide in all the stores vs. dabbling in Kindle Unlimited
Running Facebook ads for boxed sets
Whether Annie’s publisher has handled marketing for the new paperbacks and hardbacks or if she’s responsible for that
Conversion and what’s good sell through in a series
The challenges of keeping a pen name active and selling
Today we had Beth Cato on the show. Her steampunk novel, The Clockwork Dagger, is published with Harper Voyager, and she’s had numerous short stories published in semi-pro and pro magazines, including Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She’s also sold numerous non-fiction tales to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. We chatted with her about what her publisher brought to the table, in terms of marketing and selling books, and also what she’s done on her own to help promote her stories and her world.
Here are a few of the topics we touched on:
How and why Beth got started with short stories and how writing and selling them helped her improve her craft, gain confidence as a writer, and eventually find an agent and a publisher.
Selling stories to popular fiction podcasts as well as magazines and anthologies.
Tonight, Laura Kirwan, Jeffrey Poole, Jo Lallo, and myself (Lindsay Buroker) went around in a virtual circle, talking about some of the mistakes we’ve made over the years, as related to publishing and marketing our books and, in some cases, choosing what to work on.
Here are a few of the topics we hit on:
Editors — how not to find them and how to find them (and don’t forget to ask for a sample edit!)
Cover art — the struggles of doing it yourself or even getting it right when you’re hiring a professional cover designer
Signing up for one-stop publishing packages — (hint: don’t do this)
The potential pitfalls of starting too many series at a time
Genre hopping and whether it makes sense to take a pen name
Do authors need to file for copyright? What should you look out for when it comes to contracts with publishers? Do you need an agent to handle foreign rights and contracts or is it better to hire an ip attorney? What should you establish upfront before co-authoring a book or series with another writer?
We talked about these questions and more tonight with our guest, urban fantasy author Laura Kirwan. Laura used to be an attorney but is now focusing on her fiction. We pumped her for lots of information on the legal issues authors (especially independent authors) often wonder about, and we also discussed her experiences with KDP Select and writing for (and marketing to) a specific age group with your fiction (hint: Laura’s protagonist is not an 18-year-old orphan destined to save the world).
Do you need to file for copyright for your novel, and if so, how do you do it?
For indie authors, should you create an LLC or other entity to “protect yourself” or are you OK writing and publishing as yourself?
If you decide to take a traditional publishing contract or pursue a hybrid model (some books traditionally published and some books self-published), what should you look out for on those contracts? (i.e. getting rights back in the future, non-compete clauses that could prevent you writing in the same genre, what happens if you don’t earn out your advance?)
If someone comes along and wants to buy your foreign rights in such-and-such-country, do you need to hire an agent or is an IP attorney a better choice?
Do you have any legal recourse if you sign with a publisher or business partner in a foreign country and they don’t follow through?
The things you want to establish before co-authoring a book/series with another author.