Keller Media Blog

Dey St: HarperCollins. Jun. 2017. 416p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780062484178. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062484185. SCI

O’Connell (To Be a Machine) examines astrophysicist and forensic investigator J. Allen Hynek’s trajectory from UFO skeptic to believer. In 1949, Hynek was given a contract with the U.S. Air Force to work with Project Sign, the first of three UFO studies, and to distinguish which unidentified flying objects were simply of natural causation. Hynek separated the science from fiction, slowly providing a more socially acceptable platform for discussing the subject. Among his greatest achievements were the founding of the Center for UFO Studies in 1973 and the invention of the cataloging tool named the “Close Encounters Scale,” after which the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was named. O’Connell succeeds in bringing Hynek to the forefront of the field of astronomy and analyzing his life’s work. Unlike Hynek’s The Hynek UFO Report, O’Connell’s more vibrant title doesn’t stop at dry scientific facts but also explores the social impact of Hynek’s studies. VERDICT Scholastic and casual readers will find this fact-packed biography informative and enjoyable; highly recommended for school science departments. —Bonnie Parker, Southern Crescent Technical Coll., GA

So you’re ready to get a literary agent, huh?  You’ve got a strong idea for a book and you’re smart enough to see the obvious perils of self-publishing.  Besides, it would feel so much better to have a legitimate publisher behind your work. It’s time for an agent and you know it.

We literary agents are a cagey lot.  We work on straight commission – 15% of the money you get from the books we sell for you – and believe it or not, most of us expect to be paid for our work!  Imagine that!  That’s why agents insist on only representing books they believe in.  (Read: believe we can sell)  As the publishers have tightened their rules about which kinds of books they’ll take, and what they expect from authors, agents have had to adapt and take not just “strong ideas” but also the right kinds of authors. 

We’re choosier because publishers are choosier than at any other time in history.

How can you get an agent who will love your work, see a brilliant future for you and best of all, help you achieve it?  Here are 3 Ways to Get a Literary Agent.  (My agency only handles nonfiction, so my advice is for would-be nonfiction authors only.)

1 Know the competition  It’s very easy and incredibly common to think your book is the first of its kind, is brilliant and unique and golly, just pure genius.  But before you grind out an entire manuscript (never, ever, ever a good idea!) or write a spiffy book proposal (always a good idea), you’ll want to have some awareness of similar books in the marketplace.  Lucky for you, this is easy! Just go to and search the main themes of your book.  Scroll about 2/3 down the page to where it says, “Product Details” and you’ll see a little line that says, “ Sales Ranking”.  If the “similar topic” book has a number between 1 and 150,000 buy it and read it now.

Try to find the six books closest to yours and read them well enough to be able to clearly answer the question every agent and publisher will be asking in their heads when they look at your masterpiece: “What about YOUR book will be New, Different, Better or offer the reader something More than all those other titles?”  (The concept of N.D.B.M. is my trademark acronym – it’s helped hundreds of authors get publishing contracts!)

2 Never write the whole book until you have a check from a publisher in your bank account.
Fiction authors must write the entire thing, but as a nonfiction author, you should only write the proposal. That’s because it will allow the agent to give you input on how to make the proposed book idea stronger and it is simply how nonfiction books are bought and sold in the USA.  If you don’t have a book proposal, or if you don’t know how to write one, click here.

3 Offer it only to agents who have sold and are selling books like yours.  There are 5 billion “literary agent directories” online. It’s not difficult for you to spend a little time searching for agents who handle books like yours.  One of the most common reasons we reject things is because the author has sent us something we never handle.  We get offered lots of children’s books, screenplays, memoirs and other things we can’t sell.

If you get rejected by agents who are inappropriate for you anyway, you may get the idea that your book is no good, when really, you just haven’t gotten the right opinions yet. You didn’t give your book a fair shot.

Here’s why this is important:  If we have never sold a book in your genre (the type of book you’re writing), then chances are we don’t know what’s good in that genre and (most important!) we don’t have relationships with the editors who buy the books in that genre.  Only select agents who have sold books in your genre and who are still selling books in your genre.

You may be thinking, “I expected this blog to be about how to query, or where to find the right agent!”  Here’s the harsh truth:  If you send your work to 30 agents who have sold and who are selling books in your genre, and all of them reject it, you’ve got one of two problems. Either your query (pitch letter) to the agents is bad or you skipped step one or step two above.  That’s all there is to it.  We make a living doing this. That means we’re always searching for content good enough to sell. (Think of sharks hunting in the ocean!)

Rather than get discouraged and go off in a huff to self publish (a very, very unwise choice for everyone except memoir and autobiography writers!), actually take a moment to think through these three steps.  Did you really follow them?  If you did*, you’ll absolutely get a literary agent.

Like everything else on Planet Earth, there’s a proven way to get to your goal.


(If you did and you also have even the early indicators of the key elements publishers are looking for now!)

By Wendy Keller, Literary Agent

If you wrote a book and it has been published or self-published in the last ten or so years, chances are YOU and/or your publisher are leaving a lot of money on the table.

In your publisher’s case, if you have one, it’s just not that high of a priority.

In your case as the author, chances are you just don’t yet know where the money is.

I’m a literary agent. I’ve sold hundreds of “secondary rights” all over the world, including NINE international best sellers. Here’s how what I know can help you:

“Secondary Rights” are the non-book rights to your content. There are about 132 of them at last count, but the main money-makers are these:

  • Audio
  • Film
  • Merchandising (when some object is created from your book, for instance a calendar, t-shirts, a board game, etc.)
  • Foreign Translation (your book in French, Polish or Thai, for instance)
  • Foreign Distribution (when your book is for sale in English in another country, like the UK, Canada, Australia for English language books published in the USA)
  • Course Adoption(when your book is adapted into a course taught live or online, or becomes required reading for one)
  • Product Premium (when your book becomes the “free” giveaway for customers who buy a company’s product or service)

Of course there are many, many more. But here’s a weird truth: Smart marketing of these and other secondary rights usually earns the author as much or more money than the advance paid by the US publisher! And it isn’t that hard to do.

If you’d like to explore the many ways you can earn money from your book’s secondary rights, you’re invited to my upcoming 90 minute long training on the topic. Here’s a link to register for it.

Some authors get a kick out of seeing their book in another language.

The world’s a big place, and even if your topic is past its prime in the extremely competitive market, there are certainly people – perhaps even entire countries – still interested in what you have to say. Fiction and nonfiction!

My opinion is this:

You put all that work into your book. Why not give the greatest number of people the chance to benefit from it?

Audio books are preferred by some people, blind or not. An online training, once set up, could make you money for decades to come. Film rights could make you, your book and the story famous all over the world. Not to mention the money!

You may not even know which secondary rights in your own book. Many authors and authors-to-be don’t. (P.S. – If you’ve already sold some of these rights prior to approaching publishers, it will make them believe you’re an even hotter commodity!) Your publisher, if you have one, usually gives up on placing secondary rights after bout 6-12 months of effort. That’s where this powerful online training comes in: I can help you find and exploit all your viable secondary rights.

Here’s the crazy bit – I’ve seen books that are six, nine and once, even eleven years old, get snatched up by international publishers! Sometimes, a boon in secondary rights sales resurrects a book in the US market. All kinds of wonderful things can still happen for your book – self-published or not, long ago or not, soon-to-be-released or only mostly written.

You will never know how valuable your secondary rights can be until you explore all your options. Peek into what’s possible now.

Wendy Keller is the Chief Talent Launcher and senior literary agent for Keller Media, Inc. in Los Angeles. Her company has placed +800 secondary rights deals worldwide, including 9 international best-sellers and 17 New York Times best-sellers.

Query her agency here.

Sign up for the Secondary Rights Online Live Training here.

By Wendy Keller, Literary Agent and Chief Talent Launcher

Most of the authors whose books are going to be sold this year are already under contract with publishers.

But here’s the good news: NOW is the ideal time to prepare to be part of the January buying frenzy.

Do you have a good nonfiction book idea in mind?

What will happen to your career – or your life – when you turn into a published author?

Here’s what you’ll need to make that happen:

  1. A strong idea on a subject you are qualified to write about
  2. A well-written book proposal

That’s all. Because with those two things, you will easily find a literary agent (I know because I am one!) and your enthusiastic agent will easily find you a publisher who loves your idea and wants to publish your book.

How to write a good book proposal:

Note: Only nonfiction books need proposals – not fiction. But no nonfiction book gets sold without a proposal, so you’ll have to create one to sell your book.

“A nonfiction book proposal is to the publishing industry what a business plan is to venture capitalists…and for the same reason. You’re trying to get a stranger to invest in your idea.” — Wendy Keller

A nonfiction proposal has five (5) basic parts plus one or two sample chapters. The parts look deceptively simple, which is why so few authors get an agent or a publisher. Don’t waste time! Do it right the first time! (Here’s a little extra help)

The Parts of a Book Proposal:

  1. The Overview – where you pitch to publishers how brilliant your idea really is.
  2. Your Bio – where you prove to them your credentials on this subject matter.
  3. The Marketing Plan – where you show the publisher what a great author you are because you are highly motivated to sell lots of copies of your book.
  4. Your Chapter Summaries – where you get to show off all the knowledge you’ve got and how it will benefit the readers because people only buy nonfiction books to get some result. Typical: Education, information or knowledge they can use.
  5. The Competitive Analysis – where you prove that your book deserves what we call “its shelf space”. How it is N.D.B.M.(tm) than the competition. That is, “New, Different, Better or offers the readers something More.”

If you’ve got lots of time to spare, are highly motivated and don’t really mind if the finished book proposal doesn’t actually attract a publisher, do it yourself. You don’t need to know much more than the numbered list above. But if you take the decision to become a successful author seriously, then get a full perspective on what’s really going on here, and how you can create a proposal that will be a winner right from Word One. To get FREE help from this literary agent, just click here.

Once your book proposal is perfect, your agent will present it to very carefully selected publishers at the most reputable publishing houses in the country and nurture the sale until you get a publishing contract. It all starts with a splendid proposal!

Wendy Keller of Keller Media, Inc. is the literary agent behind +1,500 rights deals around the world, including 17 New York Times best sellers and 9 international best sellers.

To know how to write a proposal that her agency may represent, click here.

To offer your excellent, already-finished proposal to Keller Media, click here.

To see some of the splendid, intelligent authors Keller Media represents, click here.

By Wendy Keller, Literary Agent and Chief Talent Launcher

If you own a business, want to start one or have a career you’d like to grow, here’s the deal: you need to consider writing a book.

Not just any book.

Certainly not the time-wasting pipe dream Great American Novel.

You need to write a real, practical book on the subject of your expertise, whether it is sales or dog grooming or starting a business or whatever else you happen to know a lot about…more than “most” people know.

Here’s why: If you do it right, it will sell to a publisher. (I’m a literary agent – I know whereof I speak)

A real publisher will hand you a check for the honor of publishing your book. (The size of that check will depend on what’s called your “platform”. To find out what that means, click here.) There’s your first $25,000.

Before the book comes out, you will use it to enhance your brand, increase your customers, expand your platform. The very fact that your book is in production with a legitimate publisher will, when done right, attract people to you and your business/career.

When your book releases (about a year after it was sold) you have a window of opportunity (3-9 months, usually) to go into a frenzy of book promotion and collect all kinds of cool things like TV and newspaper interviews, appearances on podcasts and radio shows, maybe speaking at events.

All of that will exponentially increase your personal visibility in the world and by default, grow your business, grow your career or help your new baby business take off fast.

When you do all of the book promotion stuff, which is a LOT of fun (seriously) you will get (in addition to all those new customers, consulting contracts and/or job offers), the 25,001st benefit: you’ll make your mom proud. Aww.

Here’s the catch: (You knew there was one, right?) To sell a nonfiction book to a publisher, you’ll need what’s called a “book proposal”. It’s a very specific document that most people can write themselves. It lays out the parts of your book and how the publisher will be brilliant for investing in you as an author. TO MAKE THIS EVEN EASIER for you, click here to learn how to put together a GREAT book proposal and get your ball rolling…and if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for Mom!

About Me & Why I’m Qualified to Tell You All This:

I am a literary agent for Keller Media in Los Angeles. I’ve sold +1,500 deals all over the world. 17 of them became New York Times best sellers. I am wildly passionate about using authorship as a marketing tool. Some clients build multi-million dollar businesses out of becoming published authors. Every single one of them started with a great book proposal. Click here to find out how to write yours.

By Wendy Keller, Literary Agent and Chief Talent Launcher

Thinking about writing a book but not quite sure whether it is a good use of your time? Have you heard “bad” things about self-publishing…about publishers…about literary agents?

If you have an inkling that you might want to write a nonfiction book on the subject of your expertise, here are the three biggest benefits our authors tend to get:

1. New Customers to Your Products or Services

A book is an almost magical process. The marketing spin you will get from a book is unlike anything you can get – anywhere else – no matter how much money and time you pump into social media or formal advertising.

A very successful author called me today. We’ve done two books together. (I’m a literary agent. I sell nonfiction books to publishers on behalf of authors.)

Dave said, “Wendy, I’m ready to write a third.”

I asked him why.

He said, “My company is launching a new product. There’s nothing like a book to give you that extra credibility and marketing boost. I plan to use the book to promote the next product to my existing clients.”

I expect to have it sold in January, if not sooner. His book proposal (the critical sales document that every nonfiction agent must use to present a nonfiction project to publishers) will be ready in about a month.

2. Extreme career prestige

Lots of people may know how to do some or all of what you do, but when you literally “wrote the book,” you put yourself in a rare category. What HR person or hiring committee can resist someone with that level of confidence and knowledge?

It’s a lot easier to get a legitimate publisher (read: one who pays you, not one you pay!) if you have a strong idea, a “platform” in place and a great nonfiction proposal. (Click here to find out how to write a proposal)

If you’re looking for work, looking to move up a level, or trying to set yourself apart from your colleagues or competitors, a published book could be your single best move ever!

3. Start a Business

Got an idea that you’d like to start a business one day? Do you want to found that new business on your expertise, your passion, your favorite hobby? Writing a book is a fantastic way to ease out of your day job (and get paid for it!) while you prepare.

Perhaps best of all, a book’s production cycle will give you a year to make the transition – but even a year is a deadline.

The Process of Getting Published

Excited by this article? Eager to transform into a published author with a book that will give you a tangible benefit? Here are the steps:

  1. Come up with 1-3 solid ideas for a book
  2. Write a terrific book proposal (Want some help with that? Click here.)
  3. Select a literary agent who has sold in the past and is still selling in the present books like yours. (Want some help with that? Click here.)
  4. Work with your agent to improve your book proposal, if requested.
  5. Let your agent sell it to a publisher while you watch the magic
  6. Hurray! Cash the publisher’s check!
  7. Write the book
  8. Promote the book
  9. Reap the benefits

Really, that’s all there is to it. There are plenty of people along the way who will help you.

The first step is your knowledge – and the courage to transform a good but fuzzy idea into action!

Wendy Keller is the “Chief Talent Launcher” at Keller Media, Inc., a leading US nonfiction literary agency.

By Wendy Keller, Literary Agent and Professional Speaker

Speaking can be your best marketing strategy ever!

Here are the three best ways to make money as a speaker:

  1. Speak for free, but convert a hefty percentage of every audience into customers, clients, patients or customers.

How This Works:

People buy from people they like and trust. When you stand in front of an audience and share your knowledge with a room full of people, they get a feeling for the kind of person you are from the way you talk and move – as much as from the knowledge you convey. As the minutes tick away, they come to like you more and more.

Even beginning speakers, or people who feel a bit nervous up there, can convert 30% or more of a room – turning them into paid customers.

A good friend of mine sells a $3,000 service-based product. He will speak to any group of business people as long as there are going to be at least 25 people there. He knows that even on his worst days (and there aren’t many of those!) he will convert 30% of the audience. For him, that’s just about $25,000 in profits!

What could speaking do for your business?

2. Speak for money – and still convert a percentage into customers!

How This Works:

If you are a subject matter expert, on anything from sales to overcoming adversity to parenting to party planning, chances are other people want to hear what you’ve got to say. Especially if it is a business-oriented topic, your message has value.

The meetings industry is worth more than $1 billion!

Companies, associations, hospitals, schools, churches, small businesses and all types of special interest groups are always looking for fresh speakers whose content is appealing to their people. This is how they stay relevant and in business themselves.

When you put yourself out there as a speaker (find out how by clicking here), you will find that this is an exceptionally lucrative way to make a living – or just a few extra bucks. Imagine getting paid $5,000, $10,000 or more for 45 minutes of talking! (OK, there’s more to it than that, but that’s the first layer).

I have numerous consulting clients and students I’ve trained who now make $100,000 or more a year speaking just 12-15 times, sometimes in fabulous locations. Imagine being feted by the CEOs of the companies you speak for, asked in-depth questions about the topic of your expertise, and building notoriety – maybe even some fame – all while being paid for it!

What could speaking do for your life?

3. Launch a movement, a membership program or an organizations

How This Works

This is something many people never even think about! You could use your knowledge of anything from how to repair vacuum cleaners to improving sales for people working in retail and build a content website – cheaper and easier than you think. (Thank you, modern technology!) Then you can use your speaking to encourage people to sign up to pay you to learn from your site.

My late friend Cavett Robert, founder of the prestigious National Speakers Association, started out with just gathering a few friends who wanted to get paid to speak. His association grew into a preeminent organization that grossed millions of dollars per year in dues and other revenue sources. The difference between what I paid for membership when I joined the NSA in 1995 and the dues now? Almost triple!

If you have something interesting, original, refreshing, helpful, valuable or useful to tell the world, the meetings industry will be glad to welcome you with wide open arms. To find out how to leap into the speaking business now, click here for full details.

Wendy Keller is the founder and Chief Talent Launcher at Keller Media, Inc. The team at Keller Media turns regular people (and a few superstars) into big deal authors, well-paid speakers and successful owners of content-based businesses. To start you own process, click here. To find out about private consulting with Wendy to help you launch into your own successful life as a speaker and/or author, click here.