It’s difficult to get published, by many estimates less than 1% of would be authors ever receive an offer from a reputable publisher. Of course it is easier to get published if you have a literary agent representing you than if you approach publishers directly. Landing an agent is a formidable challenge; nonetheless, it seemed that literary agents offered the most viable path to publish my book.
Finding and signing with a literary agent seemed no different to me than finding and closing a prospect for any product, service or solution. I would simply use the same approach I use every day. It was a simple beginning, after a half dozen Google searches resulted in many sites listing literary agents. Next, I downloaded about 1,200 agents from several of these online list sources into an Excel file.
Many agents list their emails for book query submissions (a brief letter or email to whet the interest of a prospective agent). As a proponent of the virtual model, CEO of a virtual company, and would be author of the benefits of virtual business, I couldn’t imagine working with an agent who did not accept query submissions via email or a web form. If they didn’t accept email solicitations, they were culled, cutting my list to about 800. My list was then culled further to 100 agents who were interested in business books, non-fiction and prescriptive books (most agents listed the types of books they typically publish). And lastly, emails were sent to these 100 agents, with a succinct message about my book and background.
Here are the results of the highly targeted email campaigns to the 100 literary agents:
- 100 Sent
- 9 Interested
- 32 Not interested
- 59 No response
The results were impressive, as 9% of the targeted agents expressed interest, and responded as such to the email call to action. Normally I would follow-up an emailing like this with a phone call, however most literary agents prefer no phone calls, many stating so on their web site. Of the nine agents who expressed interest in my query, four of them asked me to email my full proposal (a proposal usually has a biography, marketing section, competition section, chapter outline and sample chapters). Another four asked me to print out a full proposal and mail it to them, and one asked me if I would like him to immediately contact publishers on my behalf to determine if they had interest.
I sent my book proposal to all four agents who requested it via email attachment, and called the agent who expressed interest in contacting publishers on my behalf. Two of the agents quickly reviewed the proposal and asked if I would speak with them right away. One of these was Wendy Keller from Keller Media, who asked if we could set up a conference call the next day. The call (actually a web meeting) lasted about 30 minutes, and I was impressed with Wendy’s background and enthusiasm. She was excited about the direction and topic of the book. During the meeting I secured a commitment from her for representation. It took less than four weeks from the time I approached the literary agency market to sign with a prominent agent.
Six months later, with help and guidance from my agent, we secured an offer from a well known business book publisher, Career Press. My book, Your Virtual Success, was published, and my second book, Sell More & Work Less was published a few years later.
Although there are additional nuances involved with successful current email marketing best practices, the basics used for this seven year old campaign are very similar to that which can be used for effective digital marketing and lead generation today. Contact the email marketing experts at StartUpSelling and learn how to extend your reach and jump-start your pipeline in the new year.