Once your manuscript is complete, it is time to decide how you wish to publish it. Here are your options:
- approach a large publisher,
- approach a mid-size publisher,
- hire an literary agent,
- contract with a vanity press (not a good choice), or
- publish it yourself.
Everyone's situation is different, and the solution for one person may not be the best solution for another. If you are looking for an agent or a publisher, research and learn what types of books each have represented or published in the past.
Savvy authors, looking to attract a major audience, sell their idea for a book often before they have finished it. They draft a proposal and send it to agents and publishers. Even self-publishers should draft proposals to help them assess the size of their market, uncover the competition and plan the direction for their book. Use the proposal to sell both you and your idea - and make your proposal irresisitible.
Specifically regarding agents, here some things worth considering.
In some instances, agents can play a key role. Many larger publishers prefer to have manuscripts filtered through agents. This filtering improves the quality and reduces the quantity of proposals they receive. The agent, acting as a counselor, also provides a buffer between the author and the publisher.
Agents provide three primary services.
- They find a publisher by matching your manuscript to the best fit.
- They negotiate the contract.
- In some instances, they may help develop the manuscript.
Most agents today will require you to draft a book proposal for submission to the publishers.
Finding the right agent is an important and critical decision. Some literary agents have a passion and a track record of success for certain kinds of books (i.e. cookbooks, travel, children's books, business, parenting, etc.). To connect with the right agent for you manuscript, you'll need to match it to the agent. Research various agent directories. Ask anyone you know who you think might know of a resource. Locate and call authors of works similar to yours and ask who their agent is.
Once your manuscript is complete, how you approach the decision of how and who will publish your manuscript is the next critical hurdle.