On the inside with a book agent

Last Saturday, I joined Nancy Knight of the Sullivan Maxx agency for a workshop. You can read more about Nancy and her qualifications here. If you’ve decided the indie route is not for you, and your dream is to make it to the frontlist of one of the Big 6 (Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster), here is some information you need to know.

  1. “How long does the publishing process take, from soup to nuts (assuming there are no hitches in editing, design, or production)?” Nancy’s answer: “I’ve seen publishing contracts go as high as 36 months (a.k.a. we will publish your book within 3 years of signing this contract). Between two to three years, and that’s if I sell it tomorrow.”
  2. Nancy’s advice: “The money flows one way, from the publishing house (sales), to the agent (15% of those sales), to the author (royalties between 6%-15% of sales).”
  • “You do not need to be published to be a professional writer.”
  • To query her, write a fiction synopsis (a narrative telling of your story) between 3-5 pages long and include the first three chapters (double-spaced with proper margins). Send them as e-mail attachments, not embedded into the e-mail.
  • “Always be working on your next book. Finish it, then edit it.”
  • “Unagented manuscripts get sold and agented manuscripts are still selling for big bucks.
  • “Editors are your creative partner, not an collborator. Line edits should always make the book look better.

Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of acclaimed Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.


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