Physicians who would like to publish fiction or non-fiction will want to start by first obtaining a literary agent. A good literary agent is worth his/her weight in gold as they have relationships with publishers who may want to buy your book. Here are some tips on how to find the agent best for you.
There are numerous websites and books which contain lists of agents. I suggest you start with the Association of Authors’ Representative (AAR). This association has over 400 credentialed agents who adhere to a strict code of professional ethics.
Although it is tempting to blast out an email to hundreds of agents at once, this is not a good idea. Research agents carefully by looking at their websites and seeing the type of work they represent. If this is a fit for your work, continue to research their website and how they want queries to be submitted. Follow their guidelines strictly.
Respect the Agent’s Time
Respect the valuable time of the agents by not making a submission until you are ready. At a minimum, you will need a query letter, outline, and three sample chapters.
When drafting your query letter, make sure it is very well-written, personal, interesting, and to the point. Avoid sloppy mistakes, queries that are longer than one page, and discussing more than one book in the query letter.
Full Contact Information
Make sure you include your full contact information in your submission. You want to make it as easy as possible for the agent to contact you.
Finding the Right Agent
If you know about books similar to the one you are writing, consider contacting the agent who represented the author of the similar book. You can usually find the name of the agent in the book’s acknowledgement
Literary agents are often inundated with thousands of submissions. Many agents take weeks or months to get back to authors. Expect to wait at least one to three months before you hear from the agent.
Do Not be Discouraged
Some of the world’s most famous authors were rejected by literary agents and publishers numerous times. These include JK Rowling, Stephen King, JD Salinger, etc. John Grisham was rejected by 16 literary agents and 12 publishers before his first novel was picked up.
Keep Writing and Re-writing
Do not submit your work to an agent until such time as you have honed it to the best of your ability. The better your query, outline, sample chapters, and book, the better chance you will have of being picked up by an agent.
Look for Young Hungry Agents
When it is tempting to look for a “superstar” agent, these agents are very busy, and often not accepting queries or even new authors. Do not be afraid to contact and use a young and upcoming hungry agent who will have the time and energy to promote your book.
If you would like to learn about breaking into fiction/non-fiction writing, consider attending “How to Earn Money as a Physician Writer” on September 20-21, 2014 on Cape Cod.
The topics covered include:
- Why Self-Publishing May Now Be Your Smartest Option
- How to Self-Evaluate Your Idea
- How to Make Your Book Look Professional – Editing, Layout, Cover Design
- Printing Options: Traditional Printing, Print on Demand, & E-Books
- Promoting Yourself and Your Book
- Leveraging Your Writing to Build or Expand a Consulting Practice and/or Your Clinical Practice
- What Publishers are Looking for – Book Ideas that Sell
- How to Find the Right Agent and Draft a Killer Query Letter
- How to Write Book Proposals That Sell
- The Business Side of Traditional Publishing – Contracts & Royalties
- Freelance Technical Writing – Opportunities Available
- What Clients are Looking for From Freelance Medical Writers and How You Can Deliver It
- How to Gain Experience, Build Your Resume, and Make Yourself More Attractive to Potential Clients
- Using Your Subject Matter Expertise and Experience to Land Freelance Writing Assignments
- The Business of Freelance Writing – Landing Your First Clients, Negotiating Your Rates, Collecting Fees, and Marketing Your Services
- Your Action Plan to Start Earning Money as a Physician Writer
For additional information on the training, click here.