Answers to the Questions Everybody Asks Us
Our opinion after a few decades in the publishing business? Yes, you need an agent. Sorry about that. You ought to be able to approach any publisher directly with your book ideas and proposals, but that’s just not the way traditional publishing works in the 21st century.
An agent’s primary job is to build relationships with the decision-makers at the different publishing houses. That relationship-building allows him or her to approach a publisher for you, knowing that your work will at least be considered for publication. Without that connection, most publishers will either fire off a rejection without ever looking at your book, or even worse, ignore your submission and never respond to it.
That said, there are a few unique situations when you might not need an agent. They are:
• If you already have a relationship with a particular editor or publisher;
• If you have a friend that publishes with a particular house already and who passes on your manuscript to his or her editor;
• if you self-publish a book and it sells over 20,000 copies without the help of an established publishing company.
Well, first of all, there are 77 reasons why we might reject your book. You can read about those at www.77reasonswhy.com.
Second, right now the author roster at Nappaland Literary is full and we are generally unable to take on new clients that we don’t already know. This is not a reflection on your talent or inspiration, nor is it because we just like being mean to writers. It is simply a time issue.
We at Nappaland have chosen to invest not just in our writers’ books, but in our writers themselves. That means we have to be able to dedicate concentrated time and effort and planning into helping our authors pursue their passions with their books. With that kind of commitment, we can’t add to our author roster without adding hours to the day … something we haven’t figured out how to do yet.
While we certainly appreciate your depth of insight into the details of our business and your unsolicited advice about how to run it, hiring additional agents at Nappaland Literary hasn’t made sense for us in the past. It is something we’ve considered, though, so we’re not ruling it out forever.
The short answer to that question is … No.
Of course we’re aware that most literary agencies thrive on volume — that is, the more authors on the roster, the more opportunities to make a sale, which in turn leads to more residual income for the agency as a whole over the years. So, yes, maybe we could make more money if we were less stringent about our author count, and yes, we certainly like to make money. But that’s not the primary reason we’re in business. We exist to help our core authors pursue passionate, and fulfilling, writing lives.
We’d rather sell one work of literary art at bargain basement prices than sell a dozen mediocre bestsellers that mean nothing more than the paper they’re printed upon. In the end, eternity matters; so we choose to look closer at eternity and stay less focused on immediate profit potential.
Well, yes. Periodically, we’ll open the doors to unsolicited submissions. And regardless, we always read every query sent to us, no exceptions. Here are our current submission guidelines.
Additionally, if you’re an author who is recommended to us by a current client, or by someone we already know within the publishing industry, then we’ll consider adding you to our author roster. If you have that recommendation, then have the person who’s recommending you contact us first. We’ll tell them what you can do next.
Sure. Work hard. Be an artist, not just a writer. Devote time to understanding copyright law inside and out. Build an author platform that guarantees you can spread the word about your work. And (of course) read Mike Nappa’s book/blog, 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected.
Yep. Here’s where can find our favorite: Resource Links for Authors.