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A Literary Agent’s Role in Marketing

Querying authors often think of an agent as the entrée to a publisher. Our job is seen as the person who submits the manuscript. The truth is that is the smallest piece of our job. Once we sell the book the real works begins. In this post, I’m going to skip over all the information contract negotiations, editing, and guidance into the world of publishing. I’m going to focus on marketing.

About 6-9 months before your book is published we’re going to need to start talking about marketing. This can take many different shapes, but definitely includes the agent. We will advise you get started on your social media (if you haven’t already) to determine who you plan to be online. We’ll advise and even consult on web design and, most importantly, we’ll talk with your publisher’s marketing team about their plans, what they might be missing, what might will work or not work for your book and what sort of innovative ideas we can come up with to push your book to the next level.

An agent comes with experience from working with other authors so involving her as much as possible is definitely to your advantage.

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4 comments

  1. An interesting issue. I love sudying marketing, and I’m working on my platform. It’s always more pleasant if one starts doing it before having signed on the book, building a platform takes time. Strangely, my WordPress network is growing much faster than the Twitter one, and I think I might’ve discovered why: mostly people on WordPress are there to see, while people on Twitter are there to be seen. My two cents… Still observing

  2. I didn’t realise agents would consult in the web design. I’ve heard from a lot of published authors it’s a good idea to start on your web page before you are published because you won’t have the time once you land a contract – but this would seem to be doubling up on work if you then have to redo from a branding pov. Is it worth doing anything on a web page prior to signing with an agent, Jessica?

    1. It’s really up to you. I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong. You will have time after you get a contract to create a website. There’s always time if you decide to make it. A website prior to a publishing deal is a nice way to promote yourself and for agents to get to know you outside of the query.

      1. That makes sense. I guess I should think about a website prior to publication as marketing to agents and post-agent as marketing to readers. Thanks, Jessica.

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