Establish your goals
Whenever I begin a project, no matter what it is, I like to think about the why behind what I want to do it. Why do I want start this project? What is the goal of this project? In this case the questions is this: why publish a book? It’s such an enormous project that will take up a lot of time and possibly money so it has to be worth it in some intentional way. A few suggested reasons (and there’s no right answer for everyone, just preference):
- Passion project
- Brand awareness
- Audience alignment
In my case, it was all those things. Overall I wanted to make the most beautiful craft book I could possibly imagine so yes, it was most DEFINITELY a passion project! I love what I wanted to do and I wanted to share it! It was also a great way to share what The House That Lars Built is all about, thus establishing our brand.
Thirdly, as a blogger since 2008, I was in the habit of self-publishing blog posts left and right, but there came a time when having an outside voice was helpful in validating my work and showing others those credentials. Additionally, of course, I wanted sales to happen–hoping for the best (you can read more about that here). Lastly, I wanted to see if there were more people out there in the world who wanted to align with what we have to offer.
Make your goals drive your process
Once you’ve established your goal, it’s important to make sure that your goals drive the process. That includes driving the following:
- Subject / topic
- Whom you select for you agent
- Whom you work with as a publisher
- Contract terms
- Production input and timeline
- Launch / promotion
How to select an agent
These days there are various methods to publishing your work, from self-publishing to online publishing etc. This series only addresses traditional publishing, in which I found having an agent to be very helpful. She helped me navigate the foreign world of publishing.
How to find an agent in your category
If you don’t have one that comes recommended, there are a few ways to find one.
- Look at the acknowledgements section of books that are similar to yours. Authors typically thank their agent in this section. It’s a great resource! You can also follow authors on Instagram–I’ve seen a number of them thank their agents there.
- Ask around to those who are in similar categories. Agents typically represent only 1 or 2 categories, for example, art and food.
- Online search. I didn’t find this to be the most helpful way, but, of course, it’s always there!
I’d recommend doing lots of interviewing and research to make sure that you find the one that’s a best fit for you. You will be working with your agent for a LONG time. I first met my agent in 2014, didn’t sign a contract until 2016 and the book wasn’t published until 2018 so it’s a long haul! And then there’s marketing afterward and additional books after that.
Here are some things to look for in an agent:
- This person has a good track record in your genre
- You get along with this person
- This person will tell you the hard things (not just what you want to hear!)
- This person has fair pricing
- Your work processes align
Agent takes your book proposal to auction
I’ll get into the book proposal in the next post, but for now, I want to talk about one really awesome reason why I’m glad I had a book agent for Craft the Rainbow. The auction! Once you have a book proposal that’s solid, the agent will put your book up for auction, which means that he/she will shop it around and it could go into a bidding war. The agent has solid relationships with editors at all the major publishing houses so this step is crucial for finding the one that’s the best fit for you and your goals.
The publisher will respond if they are interested or not and then they make a proposal to you with a price, royalties, and terms. Each one that I received had a lot of pros and cons to it, but the agent walked me through each one thoroughly. I ended up going with the one with whom I thought understood my concept the most and would allow me the most freedom to create the book that I wanted to create, which turned out to be the best fit!
Ok, there are many more pieces to add to this puzzle, but I’ll be talking more about them in the next post. That includes the following:
- how to write your proposal
- how to work with a team to write your book
- contract negotiation/financial considerations
- production scheduling and resources