"I can help you!"


I've worked for over 25 years in advertising, promotions and sales, and spent nearly 2 years as a motivational speaker for a major international company. Currently a bestselling novelist and 'shameless' promoter, I've shared my experiences and techniques as a Book Marketing Coach for nearly a decade.

Whether you're published or unpublished, I can help. My last publisher called me a "marketing guru" and "whiz", although I prefer to think of what I do as teaching, or coaching.

"Dare to Dream...and Dream BIG!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

HOW TO LAND A LITERARY AGENT: "First Get a Platform"

Over the next few weeks I will continue to present articles to you about landing an agent, via my friend Jeff Rivera. If signing with a literary agency is your big dream, Jeff can help you get their attention. ~ Cheryl

HOW TO LAND A LITERARY AGENT: "First Get a Platform"
by Jeff Rivera, founder of www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com 

Your voice must be heard. There is no greater way to do this than to write a book. If you've ever given any thought to seriously landing an agent or being published, I'd like to offer a few tips that will speed up the process.

First, let me explain, I'm a book publishing executive who writes regularly for the #1 online trade magazine for the media & publishing called Mediabistro. I also write for GalleyCat, Huffington Post and I've interviewed everyone from major agents and editors to James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Nicholas Sparks. I also do something else, I help connect writers with literary agents.

Publishing has changed so dramatically in the last few years that getting published isn't more difficult, it's more challenging. There's a difference and that difference must begin first with a shift in your mindset.
Once you know what literary agents want, it's rather easy to land an agent.

Let's move beyond the fact that you need to write a great manuscript, because you already know that but did you know there's something else more important to an agent than ever before? Your platform. That is your built-in fanbase of readers poised and ready to purchase your book. Demonstrate you have this ,with at least 5000 readers and you can land an agent quicker than you ever could dream possible.

How do you do this? First understand, there's a difference between having 10,000 Twitter followers and having a platform. Anyone can get Twitter followers. You can even pay people to add them for you. That's not a platform.

I don't know about you but I don't tweet that often and I definitely don't read everything every person I follow tweets every day. I am not necessarily a dedicated fan of theirs. If I see their tweet, then I see their tweet. If I don't, then I don't.

As my friend, former Simon & Schuster editor, Marcela Landres says in her ebook What Editors Think, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you." Think about that difference.

The following are a few examples of legitimate platforms that will have literary agents licking their chops:

1) An opt-in mailing list of people who read your information regularly.
2) If you are regularly on television
3) If you have a web series with at least 10,000 views each episode
4) If you are a public speaker
5) If you are a journalist with a column of loyal readers
6) If you have a regular radio, podcast or internet radio show with a significant audience
7) If you've self-published a number of books before and sold at least 5000 copies of each
8) If you have a website with thousands of unique visitors each day
9 If you're the president of a large association or charity
10) If you're a celebrity already in another industry

There are a number of other examples of platforms you can view by visiting: http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. You'll also see over 60 examples of query letters we ghost wrote that successfully garnered requests from top agents to read our clients' manuscripts.

Jeff Rivera is the founder of http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. He and his works have been featured or mentioned in Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, Mediabistro, Los Angeles Times, New York Observer, NPR and many other media outlets.

A special note from bestselling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif:

A few years ago I used Jeff's query service. I was stunned by the response, especially after years of "following the rules" on how to write a query letter. Jeff breaks those antiquated rules and delivers a query that really grabs agents' attention. I had dozens of requests for partial and full manuscripts, and after a couple of weeks I signed with a reputable agency. My agent has been so supportive and a real cheerleader in everything I do. I highly recommend Jeff's query service. 

For more info on this query service, please email Jeff and me at cheryl@GumboWriters.com 


Lucy Dantes said...

Seriously? If i were a celebrity I'd find it easier to get an agent? The advice given here is utopian. Buidling a platform, as you call it, takes more time than writing a novel. What you describe, or rather suggest sounds like a catch-22 to me. You can't get an agent unless you are a known entity but won;t have enough time to write a book. You can't get an agent unless you have a platform.

Beside the fact that conjuring up a rather large following also hinges on a certain notariety. No win situation?

Sure seems that way. At least for all of those unknown writers without a huge following, ie 90%.

mrjeffrivera said...

Hi Lucy, this is just one of many articles on how to land an agent that you'll read on Cheryl's site. One of the ways is to have a platform.

In future, there will be articles on exactly how you can build a platform from scratch and even bag a celebrity. I did from scratch, and landed an agent and book deal with Warner Books.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif said...

Lucy, building a platform can be done in many ways and is highly recommended by industry professionals (editors, agents, marketing experts etc.) This has been a sought after commodity in the book biz for at least the past 8 years.

Yes, if you were a celeb, you'd have an easier time finding an agent. That's a given. What Jeff is suggesting here is the same thing I coach my clients in: building brand awareness, (ie, building your platform.)

He's saying it's easier to pique an agent's interest if you have this in place. It's not impossible to sign with an agent without a platform, just more difficult.

Some things you can do before approaching agents to show them you're serious and that you KNOW THE INDUSTRY:
1. have a website with a dedicated domain (usually www.authorname.com).
2. have a blog and blog weekly.
3. advertise site and blog online and offline.
4. build up a fan base using short works--poetry, short stories, nonfiction articles--either for a fee or free. Free samples can help build a loyal fan base.
5. tweet, attract followers, build relations
6. use Facebook and Myspace to build more followers and to get the word out about your brand.

These are only the basics you'll need to start building a platform. Attracting an agent requires a gripping query letter. Keeping the agent's attention requires a synopsis or intro to your novel/nonfiction work that hooks them. Signing with an agent requires that you prove to the agent that not only will your work sell but that YOU can sell it.

"Unknown writers without a huge following" simply have some work to do to build up their brand. Researching online and taking action, or hiring a marketing coach, will definitely help in this area.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
bestselling author & book marketing coach