Agents and Acquisition Editors

Acquistion Editors and AgentsThis photo is courtesy of photostock at

The line between being an independent author and traditional published author is blending. Some authors choose a particular route based on their vision for their book. If you decide to go the traditional route for your next novel – you will come across Agents and Acquisition Editors. An Agent is a writer’s advocate, their job is to sell your work to a publishing company and an Acquisition Editor acquires manuscripts for publication.

I came across several Agents and Acquisition Editors attending New York Writers Workshop’s Non-Fiction pitch conference, a three-day pitch conference where writers polish their pitches with conference leaders and other participants, then present them to three different editors from major publishing houses. Acquisition Editors provide feedback and may request proposals and manuscripts after the conference.

Going to the Non-Fiction pitch conference was a risk – taking time off from the job that funds my writing and $425. Ouch! My expectations were balanced. At worst I’d meet other writers and sharpen my pitch. At best, an Acquisition Editor would be interested in reading it.

My first exposure to Agents at the conference was the Agent panel. My take away from listening to the three Agents were the importance of compatibility and fit. Your story may not be what that particular agent is interested in selling. In addition, the Agent may have a different agenda for your story. In essence, a writer needs to have a clear vision for their story to find an Agent that their compatible with and fits within that vision.

The rest of the conference was built around pitching to Acquisition Editors at New York Publishing Houses. The first pitch was done in front of the group of sixteen writers. I was nervous and excited like a first date maybe because I was the first to deliver my pitch. Ha! Her advice was to make sure when delivering a pitch to be clear who the main character is and what he/she is up against. In other words, show what about the main character is driving the story.

The second pitch was private. However, my vibe from introducing myself told me it wasn’t a good fit. But her advice was useful. Make sure when pitching your story you include a moment that defines the book. The third and final pitch was private as well as beneficial. My take away from her was – be prepared to answer questions about your story – short and concisely.

Here are some  Do’s and Don’ts when dealing with Agents and Acquisition Editors:

Agents and Acquisition Editors Dos and Don’t’s

  • Do – research about Agents and Acquisition editors before meeting them
  • Don’t – assume your book will appeal to each Agent and Acquisition Editors
  • Do – have a pitch that includes your story, platform and a bit about You
  • Don’t – be too in love with your project to take feedback
  • Do – write a polished query letter if Agent or Acquisition Editor asks for your work
  • Don’t – act unprofessionally in the face of rejection
  • Do – take advantage of useful information coming from Agents, Acquisition Editors and other writers
  • Don’t – give up

Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

Where To Go To Publish?

            You’re a writer with a vision to have a best seller like Khaled Hosseini who wrote “The Kite Runner.” You spent countless hours, months to several years writing to produce a manuscript. Take a moment and give yourself a round of applause. Not many sane people will commit to writing a book. It can be argued that being crazy enough to think outside the norm can be all the difference of writing that masterpiece. But how do you go about getting your book published?

            It’s no easy question to answer. Your manuscript is your baby and just like a newborn not just anyone is going to get close enough to hurt your pride and joy.

There are a ton of options nowadays that can be broken down into a few categories:

  • Traditional publishers like Penguin Books
  • Print On Demand (POD) like Lulu Press
  • Vanity Publishers like Dog Ear Publishing
  • Self-Publishing as in Do It Yourself

Just to clarify many of the companies mentioned along with others do a little bit of it all catering their services to the needs of the author. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is for that writer who wants to make an Ebook only. Meanwhile Createspace (also an Amazon company) will allow that same writer to make a paperback or hardcover of their book with the option of leveraging KDP for an Ebook.

 Self-publishing perception was frown upon for years.  The great debate was authors who self-published were not good enough to be published by traditional publisher. Despite Stephen King’s first novel “Carrie” and Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” were both originally self published. Dana Beth Weinberg’s Author Survey Results: Expectations of Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing gives insight on what authors think about their publishing options.

 Melissa Donovan’s A Writer’s Guide to Types of Publishing Companies gives a more in-depth explanation of each type of publishing company. But how do you know the best approach for your book? As you prepare to decide how you will bring your book to market here is a list of 10 questions to consider:

  • What is the publishing company’s reputation?
  • What’s the purpose of my book?
  • Who’s my potential market?
  • What’s the budget needed to achieve my vision?
  • What’s the time frame to get my book to readers?
  • What skills do I possess?
  • What skills do I need to outsource?
  • How much promotion do I need?
  • How important is it to me that I get a fair percentage of all book sales?
  • Will I publish my book as Print Books only, Ebooks Only or both Ebook and Print Books?

If you were putting together a book about your family history a POD would be good enough. But if you want your book to be available at every Barnes and Nobles, Books-A-Million and Independent Book store in the United States you’re going to need an agent to help you land a deal with a traditional publisher. Finally, if you want to hedge your bets for increase exposure back with higher revenue than a traditional press you may elect to work with a small press.

Rashaun J. Allen is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine.