By building an author platform and getting my writing out into the world, I was able to attract a literary agent without writing a single query letter. I am now happily signed with Gordon Warnock of Foreword Literary.
Here are the exact steps my agent took before he decided to reach out to me.
1. He saw my Kickstarter campaign.
I funded my Book Lush project through Kickstarter. While researching another potential publishing project, Gordon stumbled across my Book Lush Campaign. I had a compelling video, professional graphics and a clear description of my book project. Also very important, my Kickstarter campaign contained links to my author website and social media networks.
Lesson learned: Just do it. If I never took a chance on crowdfunding, it's likely my agent would have never noticed me. If you have a project in mind and need funds to get it going, don't wait for a publisher or agent to approve it. Try using crowd funding platforms to raise the money and gain your first readers. I'm going to try Pubslush for my next campaign.
2. He visited my website.
Gordon clicked from my Kickstarter campaign over to my website. Using a custom wordpress template and my own graphics, I created a professional website presenting myself as an author. From here, Gordon was able to learn much about me. Amazingly, I only had my website up for about three months before Gordon found me.
Lesson learned: Don't wait until you're well-advanced in your author career to get your website set up. Do it now! Even if you have no books to promote, you can still host a blog and other samples of your writing.
3. He checked out my social media networks.
From my website, Gordon was able to click over and view my Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest accounts. These demonstrated that not only do I have an existing audience, but I am willing to use social media as an outreach tool.
Lesson learned: Start building your online community now! Consider it play and experiment with different networks and content strategies until you find what works best for you. Show that you will be a savvy marketing partner for your own books.
4. He bought my books on Amazon.
Just six months prior, I published my Breakup Girl collection of short stories on Amazon. Gordon was able to easily get a sample of my writing and see if my style and voice was a match for him.
Lesson learned: Get your writing out there! If your writing is ready for publishing, find a channel and send it out! A word of warning, some agents and publishers will not consider work that has already been self-published. If you have a novel you would like traditionally published, consider publishing a short story collection, or articles on various media sites, rather than the work you hope to get picked up.
5. He sent me a message through my site.
One of his first questions was something to the effect of, "Do you perchance have a novel as well?" Why, yes! I've been working on a novel for a good eight years (gasp) and am polishing up the final draft now.
Lesson learned: First, have an easy way for people to contact you through your website. I have a contact form. Second, always be planning and working on your next writing project. If you desire a writing career, rather than a single experience, you should have at least one more project to follow whatever you're working on now.
6. He gave me a call.
I got the first call from Gordon when I was on my drive home. I ended up sitting in my car in my driveway for about an hour talking to him about books, writing and publishing. We have the same beliefs about the pleasure that comes from books and the brave new world of publishing. We were clearly a match.
Lesson learned: Perhaps you don't have to like your agent for your books to be successfully published, but it sure makes the whole experience a lot more pleasurable if you do.
So what can you do now? If you haven't already, start building your author platform! Get your website up, start building your social networks and get your writing out to readers. There is no one way to publish or become an author. You have your own unique path. However, your path may well be very long and difficult if you do not get yourself and your writing out into the world where readers, agents and publishers may find you.
If you need help building your author platform, I'm leading a course called Small Town Writer, Big World Audience on Gutsy Creatives. If you enter the discount code BLOGGISH you'll get $25 off the cost of the full course. Click here to register.
You can even preview a sample lesson here!
Best of luck on your publishing journey!