My Book Agent

A Literary Agency Getting Authors Published Well

3 Massive Mistakes New Fiction Authors Make (and Clues for Fixing Them)

As a new fiction author, have you submitted your query letter, synopsis, and sample fifty pages to literary agents in the hopes of getting a traditional publisher deal? Many times? So many times that you have considered giving up?

Why are literary agents turning your work away? Or, not replying at all? While dozens of reasons could apply, I find three fundamental reasons appear over and again.

The third massive mistake is a lack of followers who will purchase the book as soon as it is published. Often, this group is called a platform or tribe.

A platform or tribe differs from the number of likes on your Facebook page or even emails for your list of friends. Why don’t these count? Well, a like is too tenuous a connection. How many books have you purchased after liking another author’s page? People who measure these things suggest about 4 percent of your likes may act on your request to do something, such as contribute $5.

Yes, I am suggesting that you undertake a crowdfunding campaign both to raise a modest amount of funds and to test the viability of your concept.

The second massive mistake is that your manuscript is still in first-draft form. You have (hopefully) cleaned up the typos and broken sentences.

Your dialogue, however, is long and boring because it dumps backstory rather than increases the tension among the characters. Your descriptions use flabby verbs with adverbial crushed red pepper flakes sprinkled everywhere. I get lost because your scenes are not crisp, I really don’t know who is present or how much time has expired since the last scene.

By attending to these and other elements, your story will become “fiction on fire.” You promised to send manuscript copies of your book to your crowdfunders in hopes of getting some reviews. This version should bring in raves—or buzz.

The first massive mistake is thinking someone else will handle the promotion of your book. You know, the traditional publisher, your agent...

How will you demonstrate your ability to promote? First, you will revise your query letter, synopsis, and sample. “Fiction on fire” makes the rewrites easy to accomplish.

Second, your will apply to your literary agent for representation.

Third, you will launch a Kindle edition with a plan to sell five-hundred units in one to three months. You promised this edition to your crowdfunders, and it will be formatted by a professional.

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