I received a question from a reader who has self-published his book. He’s had some great success, including book signings, a write-up in the local paper, and airtime on local TV. His question is, “I am so busy with answering phone calls, booking appointments (not complaining), that I haven’t had time to really concentrate on the sequel, which is due out January of 2009! Do I need to hire a manager to take the phone calls and make all these arrangements, or is that what an agent does? Do I need to find an agent for my next book? Because these books are all in a series, would an incoming agent help promote this first book even though it was self-published?”
Unfortunately, this sounds like a job for a publicist and not an agent. I’ll admit that I know very little about what “managers” actually do, but in publishing it’s usually the publisher’s publicist or one hired by the author who handles bookings and publicity events; the agent’s role is really about selling books and managing careers. Granted, the agent’s role these days is growing (we are doing more than ever), but we haven’t yet added publicist to our list of responsibilities.
While what you’re getting is great local exposure, it says nothing about how many books you’ve sold. I think you’ll have difficulty finding an agent who is willing to take on the second book in a series unless the first book has done phenomenally well (thousands of copies in a matter of weeks or months) and the agent thinks she can resell the first book to a larger house as well.
Either way, it’s a mistake to spend all of your time booking events when, yes, you should be writing your second book. See if you can get a family member to take the phone calls and make the arrangements while you sit down and write. It’s a tough balance for any author, self-published or with a major house, but the thing to remember is that what sells books best are more books, not press.