Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shopping Your Book Is Part of Your Business

If you were in any other business other than writing, would you think it great advice if you were told not to follow up on important business? The advice writers often get can be so confusing. Here is reprint from my Q&A a la Ann Landers column in my Sharing with Writers newsletter. Those who don't want to miss any of the tips, articles and advice may subscribe by sending an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to HoJoNews @


Hi, Carolyn!

I am an author who had quite a bit of response shortly after submitting a query letter to hundreds of agents and publishers. It’s been about two months and I haven't heard back from the four agents and six publishers who initially requested my proposal and/or manuscript. I am thinking of e-mailing the four agents to let them know that the book is under review by six publishers and listing the names of the publishers to see if this sparks some interest. Do you think this is a good idea, or do you think I should wait to see if I hear from them? How long should an author wait before moving to the next option?

Yvonne Perry, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services, 615-884-1224


When agent Michael Larsen is featured at writers’ conferences, I always try to attend his seminars. He takes a no-nonsense approach to the agenting process and I've never seen him when he doesn't say that he's surprised at how many authors don't follow up with their agents after a reasonable amount of time. When he mentions this, it is usually in regard to a slow answer from the agent. Well, a slow answer seems much less pressing than this situation.

So, yes. I would let all the agents know. I'm not sure I would list the others when telling them of your situation. You might mention that the others’ names are available upon request, just to add credibility to your letter.

If you have a preference among the ones still holding your manuscript, I would contact him or her first, though. Sort of prioritize. If that agent passes, then you could send out your letter to the others at the same time (but not in a copied e-mail--obviously each deserves their own personalized communication). With each of these follow-up notes I would add an additional sales point, perhaps some award or promotional activity you've been involved in since you last talked to them. If not, then a reminder of one of the best points from your platform.

You might also consider calling these agents if they don’t specifically forbid that in their guidelines. That will give you a chance to relate to them personally.

Those writing a book proposal will want to download my 49-cent wonder, the Amazon short, “The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less.” Find it at It will help you get the kind of results Yvonne is describing.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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