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ATP
11-25-2007, 09:53 AM
Hello all.

I am at the preliminary stage of researching possible agents. But I am unsure if in this case an agent is the “correct way” to proceed. It is a question related to ‘reach’/distribution.

Specifically, I have an
un-yet tested assumption that professionals of one side of a market generally look to their industry/professional organisation for their industry related books. Or, much less via their local bookstore. This concerns issues related to time, and assumed information searching patterns.

As most NF agents would deal with publishers who in turn seek their distribution through bookstores, I am wondering if an agent is the “correct”/”best” way to proceed.

In other words, the traditional distribution route might not be the way to go-perhaps self-publishing plus self-distribution might be the way to go. As such, an agent might not be ‘necessary’.

Any of the more experienced here care to comment on this view/assumption? Any have done what I have in mind?

Thanks.

flashgordon
11-25-2007, 08:54 PM
It depends on the market. If your book is in computers, technology, business, or some niche market, doing it yourself may be the way to go. If it is just a general nonfiction work that appeals to a wide audience, then an agent is probably more up your route. Niche books do very well, but if you have the time/management skills, self-publishing it will give you greater control and more money (often), especially if your niche market does most of their book searches via the internet.

What is it on? I know a bunch of writers that make a living with their own self-published niche books... but they do put in the time to market them.

Susan B
11-25-2007, 10:09 PM
It's true, I think, that a first-time writer of nonfiction often has an advantage over a new novelist, because we have more publishing options. Our subject areas may lend themselves to small, independent presses, to university presses, or to self-publishing and promotion.

But I'm not sure what the advantage is to immediately jumping to the self-publishing option. I think it makes sense to first query a few agents and a few independent presses that are open to unagented submissions. It's a good way to test the waters, and to get a shot at exposure to a broader audience, without incurring the cost of self-publishing and distribution.

A lot depends on how narrow or specialized your "niche" is, and how much of a platform you have in place as a basis for marketing. Like restaurant-based cookbooks or family/organizational histories--those probably make the most sense as self-published ventures. But anything else--well, you never know how wide the potential readership might be.

My thoughts, anyhow.

Could you give us an idea of the subject of your book?

Good luck, whatever you decide!

ResearchGuy
11-26-2007, 07:33 PM
. . .
Specifically, I have an
un-yet tested assumption that professionals of one side of a market generally look to their industry/professional organisation for their industry related books. Or, much less via their local bookstore. This concerns issues related to time, and assumed information searching patterns.

As most NF agents would deal with publishers who in turn seek their distribution through bookstores, I am wondering if an agent is the “correct”/”best” way to proceed. . . .
Even commercially published nonfiction books are often distributed through non-bookstore means--professional associations, seminars, direct marketing to mailing lists, and the like. AMACOM's books (http://www.amanet.org/books/), for example, are (I suspect) not primarily sold through bookstores. Likewise a great many scholarly and professional books in many fields -- not typically sold through bookstores (other than college bookstores for textbooks and the like, of course).

Self-publishing can have its advantages, but it also has serious drawbacks and demands, not the least of which are:

--Potentially LARGE up-front investments that might never be recouped

--The necessity that the self-publisher first and foremost be an entrepreneur, a business person, with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that implies

My recommendation: do your homework, craft a killer query and be ready with a professional book proposal in hand, and query appropriate agents.

For my own overview of publishing opportunities and recommended resources (including ideas on how to find appropriate agents and publishers), look here (http://www.lulu.com/content/740262). You can read the whole thing free online (http://www.lulu.com/browse/preview.php?fCID=740262).

--Ken

Lauri B
11-26-2007, 07:57 PM
I'm with Ken--self-publishing (distributing and selling your self-published book) successfully is a huge, huge, huge amount of work on top of all the work you've already put in to writing the book. If your target audience is so niche that no store of any kind would sell it (museums, gift shops, association conventions, etc.), then I guess self-publishing may be the way to go. But I would think long and hard about doing it before I had tried to go the traditonal route. With that said, I'm not sure you need an agent to sell a nf book to a good publisher; I have sold several books to commerical publishers and didn't go through an agent for any of them. I suppose I could possibly have gotten a better deal, but I doubt it would have been worth 15% more forever. Why not pitch both publishers and agents and see what happens?

Susan B
11-26-2007, 08:11 PM
I agree with everything Ken says.

I belong to a nonfiction writer's group. In the 2 years we have been meeting three of us have found agents, and two have found publishers, with a third very close. One ended up at a big NY house, one (me) at a university press, and the third seems to be moving toward a deal with Amacom. (First I'd heard of them; they specialize in management/business titles.)

One person is just getting set to start querying, though she has given some thought to self publishing if necessary. She's the only one where I think it would be feasible (though not ideal) since she has a clear niche/ethnic market in which she already has something of a platform. Still, we've all been urging her to try to get an agent/publisher, and I suspect she will.

One more advantage to getting an agent (or editor, if you query a publisher directly): You establish a relationship with a professional in the publishing world who can advise you and guide you--and who will be open to subsequent books.

kimmer
11-29-2007, 12:40 AM
I would look at your bookshelf or those of your colleagues and jot down the names of the publishers of these professional-type books you describe. I know in the nonprofit sector that Jossey-Bass, now Wiley (I think) is huge in our industry but might not be known to those outside of our field.

ATP
12-01-2007, 07:34 AM
Thanks all.

Pamster
12-01-2007, 06:21 PM
Thanks for the link to that book Ken, interesting reading. :)