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PhotoHutch
08-02-2011, 06:50 AM
For my third and final question of the night, does an agent care if I've self-published?

How about if the book was a Ben Franklin medalist (IBPA)?

How about if the book was picked by a national birding magazine for bird books that belong in your library?

Background: I self-published a bird book for kids a couple of years ago that was really popular with grandmothers who want to share their love of birding. Okay, so it hasn't been a financial success story, but I have sold a few thousand copies.

Thanks for the insight!

Steve

Lucy
08-02-2011, 07:19 AM
How many copies did you sell? Under 5,000 (and that is being very generous), don't mention it.

Cyia
08-02-2011, 07:32 AM
If the book is the one you're querying, then yes. If it's not, then no. You'll need to tell the agent if she offers representation, but other than that, don't worry about it.

shaldna
08-02-2011, 12:37 PM
For my third and final question of the night, does an agent care if I've self-published?

Depends - if you've sold well, like 10k copies, then yeah, that's good and worth mentioning. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother.



How about if the book was a Ben Franklin medalist (IBPA)?

As authors can nominate themselves for this probably not. If you win, then I would mention it though.



How about if the book was picked by a national birding magazine for bird books that belong in your library?

Again, this sounds great, but in reality how many copies is that going to amount to? It shows that there is an interest, but you need to quantify that interest too.



Background: I self-published a bird book for kids a couple of years ago that was really popular with grandmothers who want to share their love of birding. Okay, so it hasn't been a financial success story, but I have sold a few thousand copies.

A few thousand copies is good, solid sales figures are always good.

IceCreamEmpress
08-02-2011, 06:58 PM
Actually, for a book as narrowly focused as a birding book for kids, the threshold of "worth mentioning" is probably around 2,500 copies.

I've never heard of the Benjamin Franklin Awards before your post. Congratulations on your win--still, I'm not sure agents would have heard of them either.

Phaeal
08-02-2011, 09:19 PM
If you're querying about a similar book, I'd mention it.

kellion92
08-02-2011, 10:37 PM
I agree with those who think that if you're querying another nonfiction book about nature and/or birds, the fact that you've sold a couple thousand books proves you have a platform. Mention it.

If you are querying an unrelated book, like fiction, I'd still mention it, but it probably won't matter as much to agents, although it does prove you're a good marketer.

And congrats on the success of your bird book!

taylormillgirl
08-02-2011, 10:39 PM
If you're querying about a similar book, I'd mention it.

I concur. And like a previous poster mentioned, 2500 seems pretty damned impressive considering the limitations of your target audience. However, I wouldn't mention the book if you're querying something totally unrelated, like a novel.

ETA: kell makes a good point, though. These sales prove you know how to promote your work.

IceCreamEmpress
08-03-2011, 01:14 AM
It seems (correct me if I'm wrong) that PhotoHutch is querying another book for children, so that would be the connection.

kellion92
08-03-2011, 01:24 AM
Oh, and PhotoHutch, if you are querying another nonfiction book for children along the lines of your bird book, you might also try querying educational and scholastic publishers. Most of them don't require agents, and you might have a better result than going to agents first (at least according to Harold Underdow (http://www.underdown.org/agent-not-needed.htm)n, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books, and owner of the excellent site, The Purple Crayon).

I don't know that market well, but there are many excellent publishers in the field -- start at the top and do take a look at Mr. Underdown's blog at www.underdown.org.

PhotoHutch
08-03-2011, 02:10 AM
Thanks for all the wonderful and helpful responses and the congrats for my first book.

I am indeed working on another children's book focusing on nature, but this time it's more of a nature fantasy and targeted to more than just the bird loving community.

Regarding my marketing prowess, mostly it was luck. I called the local nature store asking from whom they buy. Out of curiosity, the owner asked me to come in and show her the book. Though it was just a draft, she loved it and took it (actually, my only draft, 80 pages of full color photography and text) to her franchise meeting the next week. Before she returned home, I had orders for a book that I hadn't even sent off to the printer. The local nature store, as it turned out, is the highest volume nature store in the country and the owners are well known and respected in the industry. Pure dumb luck.

Because I was a self-publisher, distributors wouldn't give me the time of day. Fortunately, the recommendations from the owner and a few of her contacts opened a previously closed door and I secured a distributor, albeit a nature one. True book distribution continues to elude me, hence my quest for an agent this time around.

Thanks again for the help!

Steve

If anyone is interested, the first book is B is for Bufflehead

shaldna
08-03-2011, 01:13 PM
that's a pretty cool story, congrats.