Agent Lovely wants a marketing proposal and I'm confused.
I wrote the book--memoir--already, and that's what Agent Lovely is representing. She's asked me to create basically an entire book proposal minus the chapter summaries and sample chapters. (Thankya Jesus I've spent the last few years building "platform").
But it feels weird. Isn't any of this Agent Lovely's job, or her intern's job? (1) I'm currently in a residency with Famous Best-Selling Memoirist, and when I asked her(2), FBSM said that sounded weird, that marketing proposals are for when you haven't written the book yet and want to sell based on a sample and platform. FBSM's position is that agents make phone calls and pitch the book based on the writing. (3)
I made the proposal, subtitling it "Let's Market, Bitches," which may be slightly passive-aggressive on my part but also reflects the voice of the manuscript. While making it, I realized it's probably better I did, because I have enough experience writing PR to do a very good job.
Now I'm wondering: I have radio appearances and social media and TV appearances and I write a mean press release, and I'm compiling all of this myself…so am I paying 15% so that someone with connections will make phone calls? (4)
How much of my own work should I be doing here? I was already planning to market as much as I can after (hopefully) selling, do I have to do a big chunk of the selling part, too? Am I just being ungrateful here? Is this all part of the strange new world of No-One-Actually-Knows-What-Sells-Books-Anymore? (5)
Let's start at the beginning.
(1) Is writing a marketing statement your agent's (or sweet mother of god, what the hell are you thinking?) her intern's job? No, it isn't. It's your job. You spent a year building platform (good!) and you know which people know about you and how to reach them.. You as much as said so in the next sentence.
Your publisher will know how to reach general book buyers, but if you've got niche interest readers for your book, you'll be the one to know about this.
Your agent's job is to sell the book. Your job is to write it. Marketing plans are an essential part of the non-fiction pitch even though memoir is sold like a novel (ie finished when pitched)
(2) There are few things that drive me crazier than people asking for advice from folks who are not suited to offer it by virtue of their experience being limited or out of date. Famous Best Selling Memoirist doesn't need a marketing plan because she is 1. Famous 2. Bestselling. And if her first book was sold more than five years ago, her experience doesn't apply to you.
Nothing has changed more in the last ten years than how books are sold to the general public. Thank you Amazon, thank you meta data, thank you social media. FINDING your reader is an enormous challenge. Famous Best Selling has already found her readers.
And the fact that she didn't tell you to talk to your agent chaps my fin. But then we all love to be asked for advice it's true.
(3) Famous is an idiot if she thinks that's what agents do. Maybe that's what her agent does. If that's true, she has a bad agent. A competent agent is going to do a lot more than make phone calls to sell your work. And that's just the start of things. Negotiate the contract, make sure the editor gets an editorial letter to you on time, monitor the production schedule so you're not looking at the cover six days AFTER it went to the printer. Audit the royalty statements. Explain the royalty statements to you. And that's just the stuff I did Friday.
The fact that often times we DO write the proposal, or pieces of it, does not mean it's our job. It means we're willing to help you do yours.
(4) You're not paying anything yet. Let's all remember that your agent doesn't see a dime until you do. If you honestly feel like your agent isn't going to be worth the money, do yourself a favor and split now. There is nothing worse than a client who does not value the service provided. It's like dating someone who thinks going out with you is marginally better than staying home alone and watching Friends on NetFlix.
(5) Yes you are. And you should knock it off.
1. Your agent will be working with you for your entire career, or the very least the sale and publication of your book. Generally you are NOT going to pay her for the value of her time. You're going to get a bargain by giving her a percentage of what you earn, and only AFTER you see money too.
2. Don't ask for advice or take advice from people who have outdated experience, or a wildly different experience on how things "should be going."
3. Talk to your agent. If you seriously think she should be writing your book proposal tell her so. If you think you can save money by pitching directly, go right ahead.
If one of my clients had written this question, I'd fire them on the spot. I can't stand working with people who don't value the service I provide, and life is too short to do that any longer than it takes to write a termination letter. There are a LOT of people out there with terrific projects. If you don't think I'm worth it, they sure as hell do.