I had the extreme pleasure and honor of spending two days with Dan Poynter, author of over 100 books including Writing Nonfiction. I’m the workshop chair for my branch of the California Writers Club, and I brought him in to do a workshop. I picked him up on Friday and spent the day with him. Then I picked him up again on Saturday and hosted and attended the workshop and took part in his Dinner with Dan event before dropping him off at his hotel again.
I learned lots of things from the “guru of self-publishing.” Here’s one I’d like to share today:
Poynter recommends self-publishing a book and then sending it immediately to several agents–two or three–that you feel are aligned with your subject matter. These would be agents who know your market or subject well enough to target publishers who would be interested in your book.He claims this increases your odds of landing a publishing contract.
Why not send a proposal and then write the book? He says it’s easier for agents and publishers to get a real sense of the book when they hold the finished product in their hands. When they can read the title and the back-cover copy, flip through the pages, etc., they will know if they want to take on the project.
While I don’t disagree with Poynter at all, I will offer a word of caution. If you are going to send your self-published book to an agent or a publisher, do this immediately upon publication! If you wait six months or a year after your book has been on the market and your sales are low, the agent or acquisition editor will know your book isn’t selling well. This fact will hurt your chances of selling the book. If you think they can’t find out how many copies of your book you’ve sold, think again. They can.
I’d also suggest you send a proposal along with the book. The agent and publisher will still want to know about the book’s markets and competition. They will want to see a promotion plan and to learn about your platform. They likely will want a chapter-by-chapter synopsis as well, but you won’t need sample chapters. You’ll be sending an actual book.