Today is both my birthday and my agent, Rachelle Gardner’s birthday. Reason enough to start a party!
As if that weren’t enough, as a bonus to really get in the mood to celebrate I have a few words of wisdom from Rachelle about building a career rather than just selling a book.
I was one of Rachelle’s first clients and right from the start I knew there was the potential for something special. It started with the way Rachelle chooses her clients, the writers.
Rachelle has never been afraid to take on a new author. She now has about 50 clients, 90 percent of whom are new authors, which says something wonderful about her approach to the publishing business. Her intention is to build a strong roster of credible writers rather than make the quick sale. That takes time and talent on both the author and the agent’s part and can be just as rare in an agent as it is in a writer.
“It’s great for me because as agents go, I’m still one of the newer agents, coming up on four years, and it’s kind of neat for me to help build writers from the ground up,” said Rachelle. “Now, keep in mind, I’m making very intentional decisions,” she added, as she looks for writers who have something to say and are willing to work with her.
I’ve had agents before, good agents who quickly sold my work but I’d never had anyone speak to me in terms of a career. Not only in general terms but specific steps I could take if I was interested in making a decent living. Rachelle was doing that from the start even while we were talking about the project at hand. She was taking the long view of me as a writer.
That approach was going to take more work and a lot more patience but has the potential to payoff with steadily rising book sales.
That’s like gold in this business.
Most agents will not take that much time and may not even be able to tell you specifically what you could change (even if they did pause for a moment), beyond edits to the manuscript, to tell you how to better position yourself in either fiction or non-fiction in order to sell books. However, in the years I’ve known Rachelle she’s pushed and prodded me in the right directions so that my energy has become focused on an ever-more narrow goal. Instead of expending energy on different genres or marketing ploys that don’t work, all of my time and talent is now focused on thrillers.
Rachelle has also been in the publishing industry for awhile and has taken a very long and thoughtful look at what works and why and what doesn’t and that means the advice is generally structured, thorough and on point.
A few last birthday tidbits from Rachelle to take with you if you want to do well as a published author:
- Write a good book
- Put money into PR or marketing “Every bit of effort could mean more money.”
- Get a reasonable advance that you can earn back and then some in the first year rather than look for the big bucks upfront. “If you recover it and even double it, you’ll look like a rock star to the publisher.”
- Listen to your agent!
Okay, that last one is from me but take it as my birthday present to you to always remain teachable as a writer, and willing to just do what a trusted agent asks you to do without having to first know what it’ll all mean in the end. Happy Best Seller Everyone!