Chatting with Kevin Small on the Role of Literary Agents

The Impact of E-Readers on the Publishing Industry and the Way Literary Agents Help Authors

I don’t have a book yet, but I’ve always wanted to know the process and steps involved if I did. My writer friend and I were particularly interested in what literary agents do and what their role was in the book selling process. We had so many questions and no answers so I sought help from literary agent, founder and managing partner of Result Source a.k.a. RSI, Kevin Small.

My chat with Small garnered up so many juicy bits of information, information that I know will help new authors and writers like me who hope to compose one some day. There is so much information in fact, that I broke this down into two posts. If you’re looking for information on what literary agents do and the impact e-readers have had on the publishing industry, keep reading. Part 2 will consists of tips on furthering your writing career and remedying common writer mistakes when it comes to marketing themselves and their book.

Literary Agents in the Past

First of all, don’t be embarrassed if you’re clueless about what a literary agent is and what they do for writers. I didn’t and I wasn’t ashamed to ask.

Small helped me to understand and differentiate between traditional literary agents and the L.A.’s of today. “The role of the literary agent has been traditionally to keep relationships with editors and that relationship with an editor would gain access.” Because literary agents get paid only if the product they’re shopping to publishing houses sell, acquisition editors (or editors who decide on the books the publishing house will publish) have confidence that, “a literary agent isn’t going to bring them anything, but the most excellent product.” They are like the talent agents for those who want to be actors, for example. It will get you that much closer to selling your book.

What Literary Agents Are Doing Today

Unless you have been living under a rock, you might have guessed that the impact of e-readers have caused a domino effect on the publishing industry. Small said, “e-books are destroying p books or physical books as far as eroding the sales, you have this giant challenge of there are not as many books that are selling in the marketplace in general.”

The solution? “Literary agents are starting to do more things and offering more services than traditionally the role of shaping or refining the author’s proposal or author’s manuscript.”

Agents like Small, for example, are adding their own social media and marketing experience to usher in additional services to authors. Nowadays, it’s not only important to write the book, but to learn and partake of social media practices. Taking advantage of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, blogging, LinkedIn, for example, is vital in today’s fickle book buying society. “Because of the packaging of the idea encapsulates so much more than strictly just the publishing of the work. It encompasses the followership, development of the author, the connectivity of the author to those followers, which means the dripping of content via e-newsletters including speaking products things like that.”

Literary Agents’ New Role in Assisting Authors

Small has his writer’s on a strict regiment what I like to call a “Book Camp” of discipline and commitment. We’re talking or should I say “tweeting” three times a week, blogging once a week, writing a newsletter or an article 700-1200 words long for a trade organization once a month. Without this type of commitment, the relationship won’t work. Small said, “The clients that I work with are not allowed to publish books until they have all of their social media basis covered so that has to be in place. No author of mine that I work with will be allowed to publish, is allowed to publish anything unless they have the platform in place at all.”

Are you ready for this kind of commitment?

In my next post, I’m listing the top tools and tips for writers on getting their ideas sold and furthering your writing career as well as mistakes that are most detrimental to authors. Lots of great stuff in this one! Stay tuned…

Who Says Business Writing is Just Another Day Job?

{flickr photo by new1mproved}

Who is Cathy Miller? For months, she was the sweet commenter who made my day whenever I read her encouraging words on my blog(s). Then, I started chatting with her on Twitter and kept seeing her on LinkedIn. And after awhile I began to wonder what was wrong with me?!

Why hadn’t I ask this successful business writer to guest post on my blog?! Well I finally did. And better yet, I was able to write one for her too. Writing self-care tips for the self-employed was about the most fun I had writing a guest post in a long time. And then she wrote this post on business writing.

For all you writers who have negative perceptions about business writing, read this!  Cathy’s written an important post on the real truth behind business writing.

by guest blogger

Speak with business writers, and chances are many have a dream of writing the next great novel. I am no exception.

Does that make business writing our day job?

Think of a day job and what do you get? †Do you think of it as your “real” job until you can afford to follow your dream? A lot of people do.

  • For others, business writing is their dream job
  • That’s the great thing about people – we are all unique

Whether business writing is your day job or your passion, it does not have to be boring.

Our Little Secret

Because most of us like to eat, we look for ways to earn income.

For some of us, that’s business writing. Combine that with being a freelancer, and what’s not to love?

  • You get to write every day
  • You decide on the type of writing
  • And someone pays you to do that

Awesome.

Brighten Your Day

That doesn’t mean freelancing or business writing is a cake walk.

Like anything worthwhile, it takes work. It takes passion.

Sometimes, you take on a gig that you really wish you hadn’t. Or you get discouraged by the stress of finding the next gig. You set aside your dream of writing the next great novel.

  • You are not alone
  • We have all been there

Here’s the thing, you control your writing.

You can make it shine – or – you can pull the shade down on creativity.

From Boring to Sizzle (more…)

How Do You Talk: Social Media 101

by guest blogger


{flickr photo by t3mujin}

Tweet me, tag me, tell me…how do you talk to people?

When people are getting into Twitter and Facebook , they usually want to know: How do you talk to people?

This might sound like a beginner question, but it really isn’t. Whether you are a business or an individual, this is an issue you will struggle with throughout the entirety of your social media life.

So, how do you talk to people?

Learning how to use social media is more than just posting an occasional update on Twitter or Facebook. Let’s look at some tips to make sure you are reaching your audience, starting conversations, meeting people and adding value.

  • Do you have a voice?
    You need to know what your voice is going to be. Are you Personal? Professional? Advisor? Jovial? Cynical? Are you centering this on yourself or your business? Finding your voice is central to your branding and an important key to talking with people.
  • Are you posting at the time of day your audience is on Twitter or Facebook?
    You want to make sure that your extremely valuable opinion is being expressed when your audience is online. Make sure you are active when you audience is active.
  • Are you reaching your audience?
    Do you know who your audience is? Peers? Potential clients? Topical blog readers? Shoppers? Who are you trying to reach – and are you talking to them? Many times I have seen people with good Twitter followings, but when they are trying to reach potential clients they are only talking to peers. Then they wonder why they don’t get leads.
  • Talk to your audience
    So you found your audience, but are you talking to them? Reach out and do not be afraid to make the first step. If you are on Twitter, mention them in a tweet. If you are on Facebook, comment on an interesting wall post or post a “Nice to meet you” on their wall. All you need to do is reach out, and most likely the person will respond. And if they don’t? Don’t give up on one try. Reach out again. Even if you don’t reach them, you might reach some of their followers.

Twitter (more…)

Chatting with an Expert: Q&A with Holly Jackson of Cottage Copy

I admit I’ve been admiring this girl from afar and for awhile. There’s a reason why I signed up to her newsletters and follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Her and her team of refreshingly unique copywriters make writing oh so fun!

Who’s that girl?

It’s Holly Jackson of the innovative website Cottage Copy. And she’s making my day by participating in my new Writing Expert series. There’s so many reasons why I’m honored to have her join me here. I think Holly’s website’s super cool while her writing’s super hot. She’s got a lot to teach us. And boy am I excited for Holly to share and inspire us with her copywriting jewels of wisdom. Here she is:

1. Could you tell us a little bit about Cottage Copy and how it was created?

Cottage Copy is all about innovative copywriting for unconventional businesses. We specialize in selling high end products with no objective value (think art, graphic design, coaching, etc). In the past year, I’ve written copy for everything from hypnotist life coaches to lawyers. If it defies description, I can sell it.

Cottage Copy came out of a pretty typical situation: I hated my job. It was that kind of desperate hatred that makes you want to cry (which I did, a lot of the time) and I finally just up and quit one day. I knew that I could write websites that made people money, so I started one of my own to see if I could do just that. At this point, I wouldn’t do anything else. I get to work in my pajamas, spend tons of time with my darling dog, and work on projects that I love (as well as say no to ones I hate!).

2. How would someone who is interested in copywriting get started?

Start a website: get your own domain, not just a generic WordPress site. Avoid those awful crowdsourcing sites too. You’re better off building more slowly under your own name than throwing yourself to the low paying sharks. Submit tons of guest blogs, even to big sites (and email them a second time when they ignore you, which they probably will).  Blog lots, and don’t worry about how many readers you have for the first six months or so. Just get comfortable with yourself and your writing; the rest will happen in time. Act bigger than you are, even when you’re scared and not making any money.

3. What do you think is the number one thing freelance writers can do to get more work?

I get this question in my inbox a lot, and one of these days I’m going to come up with a snappier answer than the one I have now. The number one trick to getting more work is to do your best  on every job you get. I try and make every page I write as shiny and amazing as it can be, so then I can show it off happily to future prospective clients.

The real secret to doing this consistently is harder, and involves learning to say no (a hard skill for the most opinionated of us). Don’t take work that isn’t a good fit for you. Just say no. If you hate it going in, you won’t do an amazing job and it won’t land you other jobs. There are always other clients out there, and it’s worth working harder to find the right ones than just getting by on the so-so ones.

4. What has helped you/motivated you in your career as a copywriter/entrepreneur?

I’m a pretty private and reserved person, so I’m not someone who wakes up with visions of fame and fortune in her head. In the past year since I started the business, I’ve moved into a beautiful new apartment, gotten to eat out more, and gotten to buy the dog much better food. I think I’m still in the early stages of things so the fact that I can pay my bills at all seems like enough of a reward. I love my lifestyle, and I’m motivated to work hard to keep it. I could never go back to an office job after doing this for a year.

5. What’s next for Cottage Copy?

I’m opening some writing classes in the spring. They will be for very specific markets, and be very limited in size. The idea is to give people a place to learn the principles of marketing while developing their own written material for their website. I’m also doing a crazy guest blogging project where I give away 52 guest blogs on any topic that people ask for, which is currently keeping me pretty busy.

Isn’t she great?! Thanks so much Holly!! Remember to visit her at Cottage Copy on her website and on Twitter.