Monday, July 6, 2009

The Book Market and Agents

Thursday, June 25th

“When I’m dead, I hope it may be said: his sins were scarlet, but his books were read.” – Hilaire Belloc


Lots and lots of information, but again, the highlights:

  • editors never focus on the positive reviews, but only negatives. This is what affects future sales.
  • #’s of books sold: 70% is non-fiction, 30% fiction
    • 48% of fiction categorized as romance
  • Market breakdown: Amazon – 30%, B&N – 20% Border’s – 10%, independent bookstores – 10%, and the remainder divided between big boxstores/regional chainstores.
  • Only 6-12 people nationwide decide what you read/what’s out there.
  • Window/aisle displays in bookstores are bought and paid for by publishers
  • No one knows what makes a book a bestseller.
  • Do your research: look at similar books to see who publishes what you write.

The writer’s conference runs from March through October. It’s a good way to better your work, pitch to agents/editors, and to make contacts. Each genre offers an annual conference.

We all start as unpublished; we all start with the same blank page.

The key information to take away from here is not only do you need to think about what you write, but also be cognizant of the marketing you will be presenting to; it is, after all, an industry, and you need both your creative cap and workplace hat to sell your work.

Friday, June 26th

Getting an Agent

  • The AAR is a great place to start looking, but is by no means mandatory.
  • Never accept an agent who charges reading fees.
  • You need to establish some sort of business relationship with your agent, and make sure it stays business, even if you’re fond of each other.
  • Author’s Guild is worth being a member to.
Most of our information came from a handout, so I didn't write too many notes; there's a plethora of good information about agents; use your sleuth skills to deduce who's on your shortlist to contact.

Now that our two weeks away from the real world have gone by, I have to slip back into a routine. I know that part of working on my novel is intellectualizing, but I want to write. I just hope I don’t have to rewrite 3,276 times.

I mean, geez, that’s what a synopsis is for.


ElanaJ said...

I especially like the part about how every author starts out unpublished and with a blank page! Thanks for all your notes these past few weeks. :)

Danyelle said...

Thanks for sharing the notes. They've been very helpful! Good luck with your writing. :D

Lady Glamis said...

Nice info! Thanks. :)

Anonymous said...

Such interesting info! I can't imagine how daunting it must be trying to get a book published, marketed, etc. All I see on a daily basis is kind of the other end. Vets all over the country decide that their lives are book-worthy, so they write books. (Some are, most aren't interesting enough to make up for the fact that they're not writers.)

A small part of my job is to send letters saying "we don't do book reviews in VFW magazine," which is true. But it's also our nice way of saying "um, why did you write this thing?"

I should probably try to remember to have a little more compassion with these people who have spent countless hours writing these books.

Anonymous said...

Also, do you have any more information on the bulleted stats? I mentioned them to my editor and he's fascinated. In particular, do you have a breakdown on the 70% of books sold that are non-fiction?

M. Dunham said...

Kelly - I have only a little bit more info. In order to get the statistics, you'd have to either pay the AAP a bucket of money to get the statistics on book sales, or you can wade through the Census bureau and figure it out after playing with the numbers. Here's a link to the publishing industry page: