Thursday, May 29, 2008

Are Agents also Managers?

I received a question from a reader who has self-published his book. He’s had some great success, including book signings, a write-up in the local paper, and airtime on local TV. His question is, “I am so busy with answering phone calls, booking appointments (not complaining), that I haven't had time to really concentrate on the sequel, which is due out January of 2009! Do I need to hire a manager to take the phone calls and make all these arrangements, or is that what an agent does? Do I need to find an agent for my next book? Because these books are all in a series, would an incoming agent help promote this first book even though it was self-published?”

Unfortunately, this sounds like a job for a publicist and not an agent. I’ll admit that I know very little about what “managers” actually do, but in publishing it’s usually the publisher’s publicist or one hired by the author who handles bookings and publicity events; the agent’s role is really about selling books and managing careers. Granted, the agent’s role these days is growing (we are doing more than ever), but we haven’t yet added publicist to our list of responsibilities.

While what you’re getting is great local exposure, it says nothing about how many books you’ve sold. I think you’ll have difficulty finding an agent who is willing to take on the second book in a series unless the first book has done phenomenally well (thousands of copies in a matter of weeks or months) and the agent thinks she can resell the first book to a larger house as well.

Either way, it’s a mistake to spend all of your time booking events when, yes, you should be writing your second book. See if you can get a family member to take the phone calls and make the arrangements while you sit down and write. It’s a tough balance for any author, self-published or with a major house, but the thing to remember is that what sells books best are more books, not press.



jjdebenedictis said...

[W]hat sells books best are more books, not press.

Great advice for writers who are freaking out about all the extra stuff they're supposedly obligated to do. Yes, promotion is important, but writing good books is waaaaaaay more important.

Kate Douglas said...

It's so easy to get caught up in the promotion whirlwind, but I have to agree with Jessica--nothing sells books more than having more books on the shelves.

Suki Scott said...

'what sells books best are more books, not press.'

Ditto...jjdebenedictis.........we should all needlepoint this on a pillow.

Insightful post, Jessica.

Gabrielle said...

What a dilemma for the rising author! On one hand, the rewarding, involving work of publicity. On the other, the lonely desk and laptop. Sigh...

But Jessica is right. Readers can't keep on going to book signings and reading press releases. New books are top priority.

Robena Grant said...

Yep, I have to agree. Write, write, write. That's why I've been absent this week. I'm writing instead of playing, but still had to come by for a quick fix. Enjoyed all of the posts from this week. I like how you explain things in easy to understand terms, Jessica.

Anonymous said...

I may only be a lonely ebook writer, but I will say this is very very true. For the weeks I spend promo-ing my book all over the place, I see very little in return for all that time spent.

It definitely is having more books to sell that does it. If you have new release, after new release, your audience will find you. One great book? Not going to get you far...unless you're lucky enough to have written something like "To Kill a Mockingbird."