E-mail your inquiries about writing and publishing, or mail to: "Don't Quit Your Day Job" Productions, PMB #120, 236 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127.
E-mail your inquiries about writing and publishing, or mail to: "Don't Quit Your Day Job" Productions, PMB #120, 236 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127.Advice for aspiring writers
BY KATHI KAMEN GOLDMARK AND SAM BARRY
The Author Enablers are here to answer your questions about writing and publishing. Together, Kathi and Sam have more than 25 years of experience in book publishing. Kathi is an author, radio producer and former publicist; Sam is a marketing manager at a major publishing company and a freelance editor. They are also proud members of the Rock Bottom Remainders, the all-author rock band founded by Kathi in 1992.
Doing it your way
Dear Author Enablers, Since my book is self-published, is it too late to shop it around to a publisher or pursue an agent? I am working on a sequel and would appreciate your advice for both books. My reason for self-publishing in the first place was that I am in my 50s and didn't want to wait around to be accepted by a publisher. I have no regrets, but perhaps that wasn't the best decision from a business standpoint. Kathleen McElligott
Last year I self-published my first novel, Mommy Machine, of which I am very proud. I paid for professional editing and the cover is eye-catching, a 1950s throwback. I continually sell books, although in small quantities, at library author days, nursing conventions (I am a school nurse administrator), readings through my writers' guild and to professional colleagues. I have received very favorable feedback from strangers who have read the book, so it's not just friends being "nice."
Orland Park, Illinois
Since my book is self-published, is it too late to shop it around to a publisher or pursue an agent? I am working on a sequel and would appreciate your advice for both books. My reason for self-publishing in the first place was that I am in my 50s and didn't want to wait around to be accepted by a publisher. I have no regrets, but perhaps that wasn't the best decision from a business standpoint.
There are no hard and fast rules and no reason for you to have regrets—well, none that you have revealed to us in your question, that is. We've had a few regrets, but then again, too few to mention.
Our July 2005 column is all about marketing self-published books, so you might want to have a look (see the BookPage archives online at bookpage.com). Sometimes self-published books are picked up by traditional publishers, usually on the basis of exceptionally strong sales or extraordinary publicity. In our opinion, you should focus on finishing book two and go the traditional route of getting an agent. A publisher who makes an offer for book number two (and three and four) might also be interested in number one.
Dear Author Enablers, Danielle Raymond
I saw your advice column in a copy of BookPage that I got from the local bookstore recently when I bought a few books (I couldn't resist) and thought that perhaps you could help me. I'm first and foremost a writer, but I have been looking into going into book publishing, specifically editing, when I leave high school. I contacted several big publishing companies and asked them what kind of college degree and experience I would need to get into that field. That was over a month ago, and so far I have received no replies. Do you happen to know what type of degree I would need, and what colleges cater to students like myself who specifically want to go into book publishing? It would make my college search a LOT easier.
Cassadaga, New York
Most of the people we know in publishing ended up there because they love books, not because they chose a specific college program. The usual trajectory is English major to internship to paid position; the trick question is: how are you going to live during your unpaid internship? (Maybe you can invent some software and make a few billion on the side.)
Start saving now, read everything you can get your hands on and offer to edit your friends' writing, school papers, literary journals (maybe start your own online?). And it can't hurt to add a business course or two to your liberal arts program. Because of rapidly changing technology in publishing, it will also help to develop a high level of expertise in web-related technology and design.
Dear Author Enablers, Lorrie C.
Is there a book out there that tells the various agents' likes, interests, etc.? Like if they like animals or nature, or flowers, or Mr. T?
Mr. T?? As a matter of fact there is, and we pity da fool who doesn't know about Literary Market Place, an excellent source for information on agents and publishers. LMP has a descriptive paragraph of each agent, along with the agents' strengths, interests and experience. Check with your local librarian for the latest copy or visit the LMP website at literarymarketplace.com. Take it from us, Mr. and Mrs. A.E.