There are ways of publishing a novel, and one such proper method is traditional publishing where you approach a publisher with your synopsis and 2 chapters, and they get back to you in a few months, if they are interested. The gap between the writer and the publisher is huge, and hence, to bridge the gap – the literary agency entered the stream.
Usually, when you mail your manuscript to your publisher, it falls under more than a thousand manuscript piled up. If you go through a literary agent, they would validate your manuscript and land it to the editors of the publishers which surpass the first bar that the manuscript is worth publishing.
This literary agency is something that properly works in the US and other countries, whereas in India, recently, it is mushrooming with proper roots. The literary agents push your manuscript and you in turn pay them a small percentage of your royalty in general, which means, you need not pay any money upfront.
There are publishers who don’t take any submissions that are sent directly by writers at all, and demand only literary agents to approach, one such is harper Collins India. The website has the list of approved Literary agents through which there are fair chances that your novel would get published for sure.
In South Asia – http://www.writersside.com/ is the number one literary agent. The other well known literary agents are the red ink, Sherna Khambatta, purple folio, the book bakers, and there are a few emerging now.
How to approach a literary agent?
Edit your novel to perfection, get enough feedback from friends and editors before sending it across
Research well on the publishers who would publish the genre that your book fall under, and accordingly, approach the agent
Generic format: 12 point font, double space, decent font like times new roman or courier new
How to become a good literary agent?
You should know in and out of publishing a book, marketing it, distributing it, etc..
Have great contacts in the industry right from editors of the publishing industry to the publishers, book shops, distributors, aggregators, etc..
Know the current trends of the industry
Have good knowledge on the contract details between the author and the publisher
Have great passion about books
It is not easy to become a lit agent without enough knowledge about it. And, Authors, please bear in mind, do not pay upfront money!
This was the recent conversation with someone, questions against answers from the chat below:
So are you a writer? – Yes, I have published a novel a few months ago
Wow! Great, which country you belong to? – India
Indian author? Okay, how is your book doing? – Just paid XXXXX to my book marketing team. Waiting for something good to happen.
XXXXX – oh my freaking goddamn loser! – Whatttt, why??
Can you just send me the so called book-marketing-strategy to me? – Yes
Let’s take the so called strategy one by one!
Create posters from your novel and swirl it (read flaunt it) over Facebook at various groups where 1 lakh users are there and we tweet it to 1 lakh followers
Facebook groups – are created free of cost and you use twitter free of cost. Have you clicked any of the Facebook group and have witnessed a post by some random literary services company that has post likes, comments, and shares of over a 1000 so far? Even if it is so – are you sane to think it’s true? Do you think with these frigging posters, mankind would go gaga over your book, buy a thousand copies and make you world famous or the next Chetan Bhagat?
How do I create posters? – Dude, even if you don’t know coreldraw and photoshop, MS Paint is freaking easy to use. All that it takes is good content – meaning a catchy phrase or a dialogue to attract not a glamourous image unless it is Kim Kardashian, none would click open. Sit, read your manuscript, pick the catchy phrases and design posters by yourself. Or, get in touch with one of your friends. Am sure every circle will have a good designer friend who will design not for money, but for you and trust me, it would look much better than any of those XXXX amount you paid.
Every post of my book “I don’t wear sunscreen” were created by me, and my brother. I didn’t spend a penny, sample below:
Book reviews – 30+ Bloggers would review your book on their sites
This is the most freaking part ever. Author pays 500 INR (minimum) to the intermediate who calls themselves as a literary servicing agent. Say, you pay 5000 INR (minimum again) to get 10 paid reviews. All that the “Literary-Service-Agent” does is to post a status that there’s a free book for reviewing which bloggers ask for, and reviews the book for free because the book reviewers are book freaks in the most cases who don’t ask for money or get paid pretty lesser than what the intermediate makes for sure.
Do you get it? You are not paying for the book reviews, you are paying for that one status message. And it costs you XXXX amount.
Most book reviews of my book are from readers, and I personally sent to a few reviewers whom I followed (Stalked) their reviews which are brutally honest and worthy enough. I spent for the courier, and a few were cool enough to take the eBook in exchange for an honest review which worked wonders. Paying for good reviews – I see it is in a worth, but what’s the point in paying those frigging literary service money gobblers?
There are umpteen book writers, readers, reviewers pages and groups on Facebook, but not all those in the groups would be interested in your book. I have witnessed posts by those servicing agents which had 0 likes.
When these intermediate money consumers ping me for book reviews, I ask for money up front. I don’t do this for money, but, hey! Someone else is making money doing NOTHING. An author spends almost a year, and money on publishing a book. A reviewer spends enough time reading and reviewing a book, and all that the intermediate does is to pass on the message, courier the book and make money out of it.
Giveaways: – Next big scam
I personally believed that book reviews of those who don’t know you work much better and did a Goodreads giveaway. I had to courier my books to the selected folks, and hosting the giveaway is FREE of cost. Please go through about the free book marketing strategies. Stop paying 5000 INR for a Goodreads giveaway which you can do all by yourself.
You pay 500 INR for an Author Interview. Trust me, no-one will click open and read your interview to know whether you like tea or coffee, whether you read Paulo or James Patterson. For the sake of sympathy you might gain a few likes but no-one will read. Stop paying for it, go ahead if it is free because you as an author will definitely have a good base of friends on your list and by sharing that interview on your timeline, you are helping the other blog to gain a few followers.
If you can put a few pictures, make good posters and create a book trailer, please do! Else, you can pay esteemed video makers who are indeed costly, but are worth it. Please do not pay for immature videos churned using an online free link. Professional Book Trailers are different, below is one of my favorites.
Events – Book signing or Book reading or Book launch
I am sure these events are costly and would cost you a few bucks. But, with a few posters stating that QWERTY literary services are launching it, you will actually be paying double the cost. If you can inquire a nice mini-hall for a high tea session, invite your friends over and share across social networks, and have an engaging talk. That would do. Don’t pay 2*XXXXX the amount for nothing.
Offline book distribution
This is something as an author, you might not have control over. This is a good option, if the distribution takes your book to places. But, keep in mind, how many actually walk into a bookstore – see your cover – read the blurb of the book – buy it? Please be prepared to get all the copies or lesser by 10 utmost back in a year’s time. You would be paying as much as a lakh for this, please be prepared!
Again, this blog of mine is all set to turn a website if I pay 18$ for the domain and spend a few hours on tweaking it properly. The domain name would cost me 1000 INR per year, if the QWERTY literary service does this, they would ask you for about 15000-25000 INR based on the features and stuff. Even if you’re not taking a pre-existing theme, and go for a proper HTML/CSS coding website, it would cost not more than 5000 INR. Ask me, I can refer some ace website developers. Don’t spend 5 times the money on cheap site creators.
Something out of your control again, give it a try with friends and families if they know any friend working for newspapers and media. If yes, go for it. Else, you can ask a PR agency for the same. The QWERTY literary services would ask half a lakh to post your interview on papers which mostly are used on the roadside Bajji wala shop. 50,000 INR for oil dripping newspaper interview? Depends, if QWERTY gets you to an ace newspaper like the Hindu, New Indian Express, Deccan chronicles then it might be worthy. Not the next street walk, area talk, etc..
I hired a PR agency and took their services which was satisfactory enough, here is my interview. (I know the picture is very bad, I look better in person) I paid lesser than what QWERTY would ask for.
If you directly pay for these Ads, you would be paying less. Ads in the sense, the Facebook ads, ads on Youtube that one can skip in 5 secs, Google ads, etc..
These are the services that I crossed and laugh over, I don’t remember the rest.
A few points to ponder:
A parent would probably take better care of the toddler than any babysitter. Work on your book promotions by yourself. If you feel ashamed, take help from friends who care about you. Ask suggestions!
Promote reading, promote your writing skills – make people think this person writes well
Don’t spend your hard earned money on QWERTY literary services and crib over wasting money
Interact with people, Interact with authors, get to understand what they went through and choose wisely
Last but not the least – A well-marketed cheap work can be sold only ONCE
A very good book with less marketing – will sell better any day just by word of mouth
Promote yourself as a good writer with your posts, stories or poems, one-liners, quotes. Stand tall as a good writer with good story, language, grammar, vocabulary, diction, etc.. Don’t publish your first draft and spend on your marketing but do the vice versa. Only good books win, only good authors make it big and others drown with a book or two.
*QWERTY Literary services is an imaginary term used
*Not to hurt anyone, but to help my fellow Indian authors from falling into a trap and spending money
What’s worth spending for?
There are really worthy authors and reviewers groups, where we exchange book reviews, blog tours are hosted with services that are the best in this industry at a much affordable cost.
Edit your book – spend on it more than marketing. A well-editing book is worth marketing for. I have thrown a few books that were sent for reviews because I didn’t want to dump myself with bad grammar as mine is equally bad for that sake.
P.S – I am not trying to stop you from paying QWERTY Literary Services, but since I have made good friends online with whom when I personally chat or talk and tell them about these details they exclaim “OMG! Kavi, wish I’d know this before” or “OMG! Why didn’t you tell me all this before?” This is just for you folks out there who are not my friend yet, or probably would never be, but if this post makes you think once before paying a huge sum. I WIN, Good day folks!