TO HAVE AN AGENT OR NOT?
That is . . . sooooo not the question! Of course I want an agent!
I’d love that one person that sees the money in the story and knows I bring more than my pen to the table. That I bring an understanding of marketing and a deep love of my particular audience.
So yeah, I’d LOVE an agent.
That said, however, UNDERTOW has a pretty good fan base, so if I must, I will self-publish the sucker.
And when it comes to self-publishing, the key is knowing HOW to sell your story and who your audience really is. I’ve been pitching stories for different publications for fifteen years and the key to selling each and every one of those stories? KNOW THY AUDIENCE.
For UNDERTOW, I wrote for the upper YA market right out of the gate. What I found, however, was that the fans (including the roughly 500 readers it acquired in five days on FictionPress) represented a HUGE age range. (If by some miracle you ARE an agent reading this, I only posted the first five chapters then pulled the sucker on the advice of Mr. Fishman out of NYC).
Anywho, I know the story is solid (in no small part to a legion of Betas who told me exactly what should be tweaked, removed, added, etc). But any story can fall through the cracks if you don’t know how to network.
So, I got a Twitter account (@sharkprose) and I tweet regularly to agents and insiders. I started a blog (this one) that reposts to both FB and Linked In. I am a member of the Cape Cod Writers Center (and now on their Board of Directors) and part of the Cape Cod Fiction Fanatics. I am also on Agent Query Connect near daily.
I started reviewing lots of YA books and was thrilled to have the authors contact me back (all those posted below got in contact with me and some reblogged my reviews to their own sites).
I revised, revised AND REVISED the ms, so the wording and feel is as flawless as it can get. I read tons of books, not just for fun, but for the voice an author brought to the page and honed my own characters based on what I learned.
I welcomed criticism – demanded it – because anything less does not improve the story. I am lucky enough to have a thick hide from years in the industry :)
I started playing with cover art and tag lines for UNDERTOW. I contacted a local graphic artist who is willing to help design the real cover if needed with REAL BHS students. I have a computer guru ready to launch a book trailer on YouTube (and considering my french bulldog and son went VIRAL at 3 million hits, I think I can equally sell a great trailer).
More than anything else though, I am a native Cape Codder and my connections here are invaluable. I know when to launch a book, where to launch it, how to spin it for maximum sales and why it would be a killer summer read by the beach. Inside the book are local landmarks (some disguised) so if you are a tourist or a local, suddenly you are INSIDE the story:
You can jump from the Town Neck bridge where Eila is nearly killed.
You can offroad in a Jeep on Sandy Neck.
You can bonfire on the beach at night.
BHS exists as do its students and cheerleaders.
Cape Cod is a tourist mecca, attracting an array of people, many of which have that YA group in tow. This is their chance to fall into a story that surrounds them and feels real – as though it could happen to them. And pulling in roughly five million beach-goers each year, I’d say it is my nirvana for sales.
So, for anyone reading this, do yourself a favor:
KNOW THY AUDIENCE.
KNOW WHY YOUR STORY WILL SELL.
NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK.
READ ALL THE TIME.
NEVER STOP IMPROVING YOUR WRITTEN VOICE.
NEVER STOP DREAMING.