Episode 47: Q&A Part 2

On June 15, Kasie & Rex worked through the second half of those April 27th workshop questions. Here are the show notes:

Dr. Kasie Whitener, Clemson Road Creative, fiction writer

Rex Hurst, English Instructor, fiction writer

Theme for the day

Q&A Part II


  • Workshop 4/27 Questions and Answers
  • Upcoming Events in the Area
ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Segment 1

Back in April, we hosted a workshop for SCWA and collected some burning questions people had about the Business of Writing. Publishing, agents, self publishing, all that jazz. Last week we answered some questions around Marketing and we started with the most important part: write a good book. Today we finish the rest of the questions.

Let’s start with the professional resources you can/should to enlist in order to publish your book:

  • Beta Reader(s)
  • Editor
  • Layout/Designer
  • Illustrator
  • Cover Artist
  • Agent
  • Publisher
  • Publicist

How do you know if you need an Agent?

The simple answer is that if you want your book with a publisher that only takes manuscripts from agents, then you need an agent. Preferably one with a relationship with the desired press. Agents are sales people, plain and simple, and you are a manufacturer — or producer — with the manuscript being your product. Some agents represent multiple products, some focus on the author himself or herself and promote everything you write. Some are so good at saying “no” you wonder if they ever sign anyone.

How do you get one?

All literature is subjective and agents are no different. Why they like a certain pitch, concept, or product is mystery sometimes even to them. Some will tell you they have a formula for predicting a manuscript’s success. The point is, the agent needs to believe he or she can sell your book. If they can’t, then they won’t sign you. It’s not you, it’s the book. I’ve had agents that really liked me who thought the book wasn’t ready. Take their feedback, work on the product; don’t take it personally. Like all business people, agents should demonstrate professionalism. You can expect an agent to be excited about your work and have some idea of where she can sell it. You should not expect an agent to edit the book.

The best place to start is with a list of agents that, based on some cyber stalking, you think might be into the kind of book you’ve written. Follow them on Twitter, read their web pages, and use their vocabulary when approaching them. Most agents have a “how to query” section on their website. Follow those instructions. Every agent is different. Many will simply ignore you. Some will take a while to get back. Some will reject you right away. Some will ask for 25 pages (or some other number they think represents the work).

Jane Friedman wrote extensively (and with authority) on this topic. Find her suggestions here.

What are some questions to ask before you accept an agent’s offer? (Jane’s questions)

  • What is her sales track record?
  • Does her communication inspire confidence?
  • What’s her level of enthusiasm for your project?
  • Do people in the industry recognize your agent’s name?

Here are some more tips on agent searching and selection.

Segment 2

How can you get an illustrator?

In the entrepreneurial world, people love Fiverr — it’s an online platform for freelance creative like Illustrators. You can register, search, and interview illustrators and then sign them and pay them through the platform.

What should you look for in an illustrator?

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions for children’s book writers that might help you focus on that specific niche. We’re not children’s book authors, so it’s not our experience that should guide you. Like any partner in your publishing venture, I would suggest the illustrator have a passion for you story and be easy to work with. I would want them to be responsive and open to critique and the revision process.

How can an unknown author quickly get his or her name and book noticed?

I don’t think “quickly” works, honestly. But I know contests help. So submit and win. Also, Amazon reviews can boost search results and get you more readers. So reach out to people you know have read the book and ask them to write reviews. I think it’s a process, being at the events, being in the mix, having something new to offer with each set-up — an extra chapter, a peripheral character scene, some kind of “give away” that entices people. I subscribe to T.M. Frazier’s email and she’s been teasing her newest book, Nine, for the last year. I cannot WAIT for it to be released Tuesday. That build of anticipation is really fun.

Are there genre-specific issues with publishing?

What are the advantages of self publishing?

What are the pros and cons of working with a small publisher?

How do you feel about putting out free work?

How do you choose blog topics?

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