Tag Archives: Joanna Penn

Do Literary Agents Accept Self-Publishers?

Do literary agents accept self-publishers? The short answer is: yes. Literary agents will accept self-publishers. The long answer requires much more than a well-written, marketable query letter.

What is a Literary Agent?

Do Literary Agents Accept Self-Publishers?

Do Literary Agents Accept Self-Publishers?

A literary agent is a type of broker that works within the traditional publishing sector, that helps authors to find trade publishers (which they refer to as “editors”) who will buy the rights to publish their books. Today’s literary agents are scanning the bestseller lists on Amazon to find the most saleable authors. Just ask Jeff Haden: an author, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer and Inc. Magazine contributor. In a recent podcast with Joanna Penn, he said, “I have 960,000 some followers on LinkedIn or something. That helps me drive traffic to my ‘Inc.’ articles, that helped a publisher say, ‘Wow, he’s got a platform. Maybe we should be interested in a book.’”

Do Literary Agents Accept Self-Publishers Without Platforms?

Occasionally, a literary agent will take a chance on an unknown writer who has written a convincing query letter. A query letter is essentially a sales pitch. (Everything in life is sales, isn’t it?) Before you pitch anything to any publisher, you must first research the company to understand exactly what they’re looking for in new projects. Most publishers will post submission guidelines right on their websites, and it’s important to read them and follow them to a tee. If you don’t, you’ll likely fall out of favour with that publisher almost immediately.

Do Literary Agents Accept Self-Publishers With Platforms?

Yes, absolutely. This is every literary agent’s preference. You need only read the amazing story of Amanda Hocking in The Guardian to see that this is true. Amanda Hocking was one of the first reported Amazon millionaires who utilized “rapid release” publishing to self-publish her fictional books after multiple rejections by the traditional trade publishers. Of her success, Ed Pilkington wrote in The Guardian:

When historians come to write about the digital transformation currently engulfing the book-publishing world, they will almost certainly refer to Amanda Hocking, writer of paranormal fiction who in the past 18 months has emerged from obscurity to bestselling status entirely under her own self-published steam.

How to Know When It’s Time to Call a Literary Agent

After self-publishing for a while, Amanda tired of it. She had been an avid reader before she ever became a self-published author. Someone who reads regularly can tell when a book is not on par with the quality of traditionally published books. And it really bothered her.

[A]lthough she has employed [sic] own freelance editors and invited her readers to alert her to spelling and grammatical errors, she thinks her ebooks are riddled with mistakes. “It drove me nuts, because I tried really hard to get things right and I just couldn’t. It’s exhausting, and hard to do. And it starts to wear on you emotionally. I know that sounds weird and whiny, but it’s true.”

In the end, Hocking became so burned out by the stress of solo publishing that she has turned for help to the same traditional book world that previously rejected her and which she was seen as attacking. For $2.1m, she has signed up with St Martin’s Press in the US and Pan Macmillan in the UK to publish her next tranche of books. (The Guardian)

Amanda had proven her sales abilities. As a result, the traditional publishers finally embraced her. Literary agents and trade publishers alike want to buy books that will sell well and earn them a profit. The best way to prove yourself to them is to self-publish and sell it yourself.

* * *   * * *   * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Six-figure Income as an Author: Truth Versus Myth

six-figure income

six-figure income … as an author

Six-figure income … as an author? Is it possible for indie authors to enjoy that level of success? The truth may surprise you as much as the myths do.

I’ve shared several case studies of successful authors both on this blog and in a recent 2018 release. Amanda Hocking, Mark Dawson, Liz Schulte, and Timothy Ellis are four impressive examples of authors who sell thousands of books. They are all using similar online tactics, and productive writing is number one in that list of activities. I’ve recently found more writers to add to this distinguised group of indie authors. Their stories are worth sharing here because they speak about the realities of building a full-time career as an author. They also bust the first two myths wide open.

Six-figure Income Myth #1: It’s Unrealistic to Expect a Six-figure Income as an Author (Especially With Non-Fiction Books)

When I first started researching author success stories like these, each one seemed to be a fiction writer. When I shared my findings with others, I was met with comments such as this one: “An important difference in Fiction Writing as opposed to non-fiction — Readers buy for entertainment, not to solve a problem, so you can successfully sell multiple products to the same reader pool.” Such a comment suggests it’s somehow easier to sell multiple fictional products to a single readership than it is to sell multiple non-fiction books—that it’s easier to build one’s readership based on entertainment genres rather than self-help/problem-solving genres.

I received a similar comment from a local “author marketing consultant” soon after: “Our particular audience is business (in many ways a tougher market than fiction) and business types rarely write more than one book. … Writing a book and getting it published are the easier parts. Making enough money to live on or even to cover the time invested in the writing of the book, let alone make a significant profit on book sales is extremely difficult.“ Extremely difficult? That didn’t sit well with me at all, so I went in search of a non-fiction success story. And guess what? I’ve since found many. Steve Scott, Joanna Penn, and Jeff Haden are just three examples.

Six-figure Income Myth #2: Success Will Strike Suddenly, Like a Lightning Bolt

I highly recommend you read a transcribed podcast from The Creative Penn blog titled The Motivation Myth. How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up To Win with Jeff Haden. During this interview, authors Joanna Penn and Jeff Haden discuss what it really takes to make a living from writing. They provide truly helpful and honest advice about how one can transition into a full-time author. Here’s a brief excerpt from that webpage:

Here’s the thing. When people ask me about side hustles and keeping full-time jobs, if you’re going to do that, the first thing you have to do is say, “I will be the best at my full-time job of anyone there.”

Because typically what happens is your attention starts to drift and you slide in a few things during your regular work time and you’re focused on other stuff. And you owe better to your employer, you owe better to yourself and I just think it’s a poor way to start.

So I worked really, really hard at my job which was good but then I worked every night. I worked most weekends. And I just I tried to shorten that cycle because there’s a certain amount of time it’s going to take on your side hustle for you to build it up to where you can make that your real hustle.

…I’m lucky enough now that I get to meet some really, really successful people and talk to them about how they got there. None of them ever describe this little lightning bolt moment or “I hacked my way to success” or I found this shortcut that got me there. Every one of them worked harder than everyone else around them and they had a goal, they figured out how they were going to get there.

Jeff Haden did the work: the “side hustle,” as he calls it. He worked harder than anyone else and was able to make writing his full-time job within one year. For Joanna Penn, it took five years to transition to a full-time writer. It took another four to earn six figures. Joanna graciously shares her exact timeline in this blog post.

Six-figure Income Truth #1: It Takes Time and Commitment

That’s the reality of this successful book publishing formula. It takes time and commitment. There are zero shortcuts to a six-figure income for authors. But if you’re willing to do the necessary work until, then you’ll see the success you desire. It’s possible for both fiction and non-fiction writers. In fact, I’m willing to bet it’s even possible for poetry writers.

* * *   * * *   * * *

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



An Excerpt from How to Build a Loyal Readership So Your Self-Published Books Get Picked Up by Literary Agents and Trade Publishers

Now available through AMAZON, KOBO, and E-SENTRAL!

In the first section of this ebook, I highlighted a few different authors who are seeing significant success in terms of the volumes of books they’re selling online every single year. These three, in particular, have earned six- or seven-figure annual incomes from their ebook sales and have openly shared their stories in prominent online publications:

  • Amanda Hocking was one of the first reported Amazon millionaires who utilized “rapid release” publishing (releasing a new book online at least every six weeks, if not oftener) to self-publish her fictional books after multiple rejections by the traditional trade publishers. Of her success, Ed Pilkington wrote in The Guardian:
    “When historians come to write about the digital transformation currently engulfing the book-publishing world, they will almost certainly refer to Amanda Hocking, writer of paranormal fiction who in the past 18 months has emerged from obscurity to bestselling status entirely under her own self-published steam. (Pilkington, 2012)”
  • Mark Dawson, by contrast, was first trade published. But when he saw how few copies his publisher sold of his fictional novel, he switched to self-publishing and learned how to become an entrepreneurial author instead. Of his six-figure success, Jay McGregor wrote in Forbes:
    “Dawson’s recent success isn’t representative of his time in publishing, however. He actually had a book published by Pan Books called ‘The Art of Falling Apart’ in 2000, which completely bombed. Not because it was bad – ironically it’s now available on Kindle and has 32 five-star reviews out of 39 – but because few people read it or are aware of it. Mark puts the book’s failure down to the publishers inability to promote his work and generate any sort of interest.” (McGregor, 2015)”
  • Steve Scott is a notable non-fiction success story, proving this “rapid release” technique can work for all kinds of books—not only fictional novels. Of his success, Joanna Penn wrote on The Creative Penn blog:
    “If you want a six figure income from your books, it’s a good idea to model people who are already making this kind of money. Steve Scott seemed to burst onto the indie non-fiction scene in early 2014, but in fact, he has 42 books and has had an internet business since 2006. (Penn, 2014)”





These three success stories confirm what I’ve been writing about and teaching to aspiring and established authors alike for several years now: the most successful authors are the ones who treat book writing, publishing, sales, and marketing as their own businesses. They don’t only write; they sell their books. This is true of all self-publishers and most trade-published authors, and it’s always been that way—contrary to popular belief—which is why people like Mark Dawson are switching over to self-publishing (or supported self-publishing) to produce their books. Why hand the majority of your book’s copyright ownership and creative control over to a trade publisher if you’re the one who’s going to have to sell it, anyway? (If my question has raised your eyebrow and you’re feeling any sort of resistance to it, then I invite you to click on this blog post and read a few quotes from the trade publishers themselves regarding how much time they actually spend selling their authors’ books. It’s an enlightening read.)

To read more, you can pick up a copy of this book at AMAZON, KOBO, or E-SENTRAL!