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Answering your questions about writing, publishing, and marketing books

By Sarka-Jonae Miller

October 27, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Leigh Bennett joins us from the land Down Under to give advice about literary agents. Bennett is the author of the hilarious contemporary romance Flirting With Magick and the brand new urban fantasy Avalon's Child.

Leigh began as a self-published author before being recruited by me to join the publishing house Booktrope. Both of us have free giveaways coming soon, so be sure to check out the free books list at the end of this week's column.

“Since I am a self-published author, I haven’t had much experience with agents or traditional publishers. However, sometimes I’m tempted to submit something to an agent to see if there is an interest. What are your thoughts on that?” – Carole McKee

Leigh: I think submitting work to any form of literary third party is always a good idea.  Firstly it provides the practice of getting your work out there, followed by learning through feedback if you receive it, and at worst, learning to deal with possible rejections, all of which provide opportunities to learn more about your craft and grow with it. Even if you do get accepted, you don’t have to take the offer and can look elsewhere for something that suits your needs.

Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for your work to be accepted if you keep going. Having been both self-published and now with an independent publisher there are definitely pros and cons to each.

Self-publishing provides you with ultimate control, which works well for those who have definite ideas of where they want to take their work and are confident in their own methods and skills in branding and marketing. Sometimes, projects may not be considered marketable by some traditional publishers who work with specific markets so self-publishing allows the author to fills the niches elsewhere if they prefer to go in a different direction. You can go as a completely self-published author, or until an agent or publisher agrees to take on your work, or I also know of many authors who do certain projects with a publisher and others on their own.

For me, working with a publisher has been invaluable in my current learning and filling the holes that my own skills don’t cover. It also takes out some of the ‘loneliness’ that comes with the autonomous nature of writing by allowing me to seek advice when I need and a sounding board for my ideas. Of course, I have had to relinquish some control over some of the aspects of publishing as well but I trust that my publisher knows what’s best for my work.

All in all, there are many reasons to either self-publish or work with a publisher, most of which depend on your own skills and requirements. All authors want to take their work as far as they can and many different ways of doing it.

Sarka: The only downside to submitting work to literary agents is time, both the time it takes you to write and send query letters plus the time you spend waiting for replies. However, publishing never brings overnight success. Impatience is a fatal flaw for many authors' careers, so don't let time scare you off.

My advice is to send queries to at least fifty agents, but while you wait to hear back continue writing your next book and continue building your platform. The feedback I received for my debut novel, Between Boyfriends (get it free on Amazon November 9-14), helped me make changes that created a richer story. Just don't write a rushed query letter and send it off to ten agents, and then call it quits if none ask to see pages. It's better not to submit at all than to give anything less than your best effort

Free Books: Get more than 200 great freebies for kindle November 9-14, including my award-winning chick-lit novel Between Boyfriends, the award-winning science fiction best seller Once Humans, the romantic thriller Trigger, Nancy Pearl Award finalist Seducer Fey, the contemporary romances Another Tomorrow and Rydin' the Storm Out. See more here.

Got Questions?

Send them to Sarka-Jonae Miller through Twitter @sarkajonae, Facebook, or via her author website. Additionally, live events can be found on SJ's events page.

About Sarka-Jonae Miller

SJ is a local author, book marketing manager, publicist, and columnist who writes chick lit and steamy romance based in San Diego and Los Angeles. Her novels include the Between Boyfriends series and the All for You series. SJ also writes health and fitness articles for Align Life and Natural News.

Check out her Between Boyfriends blog for book reviews, author interviews, TV episode synopses, and giveaways. Follow @sarkajonae and @sjpublicity9 on Twitter for more writing tips, book recommendations, and industry news. Get health and exercise articles from @sjnews9.

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