A literary agency is a business. We sell your book, we earn a commission. If we don’t sell your book, we’ve worked for free.
Like any business, every literary agency is in business to make a profit. So are the publishers! The publisher’s business is to publish books that will sell well. They make that determination based on whether or not they believe your book will sell, therefore so do we. The jargon in our industry for whether or not your book will sell (regardless of how much you love your own work!) is called your “platform”.
No platform = No Book Sales
Big platform = Lots of Sales
Summary: Every author any nonfiction agent represents must have a platform
- 20 or more paid speaking engagements in the last 12 months
- You are the “only” or “best” or “top award winning” something
- High status in business, medicine, science or the arts
- An aggregate social media following in excess of 50,000 people (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Mailing list of 75K or more
- Previous New York Times best seller within the last 5 years
- Host a radio/TV show or are a regular media guest
- A group of celebrity, business or prominent author friends who will agree to co-promote your book
- Syndicated writer for Forbes, Entrepeneur, etc. – with a very engaged readership
- Signed contract with a studio to produce a movie or host a show related to topic of your book
- C-level executive for a nationally (or internationally) recognized company
- An unusual “claim to fame” that has not already been exploited fully on the media
We’d rather have a platform from you than a fabulous book idea. We can get an idea out of anyone – but a platform takes effort and finesse.
These criteria may seem harsh or stringent to you, but as the publishing industry has changed in the last decade and the competition for the consumer’s “eyeball” has intensified, every single publisher demands that a nonfiction author show up with some of these benefits already in place.