Friday, August 1, 2014

Erin Murphy: Navigating Your Publishing Debut

Erin Murphy is the founder of Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She's a cracker-jack agent, whose award-winning and best-selling author clients include Joanne Rocklin, Cynthia Levinson, Chris Barton, Liz Garton Scanlon, Deborah Underwood and Robin LaFevers. …And how did Robin LaFevers become one of Erin's clients in the first place? Well, back in 2001, Erin critiqued Robin's manuscript at this very conference!

Erin Murphy in her session

She's represented, over the past 15 years, 272 books that have been published. She's had so many debut authors, some of them started blogging at EMU's Debuts.

The whole process, from making the deal to being published and having the book out in the world, with all the steps in-between, can take anywhere from a whirlwind year to three years, or in the case of some picture books, maybe as long as six years!

Highlights of Erin's wisdom:

"For every success in publishing, there is a waiting period that feels like a failure." 

She shares that it's very easy for us (after all, we make up stories for a living) to make up reasons for the silence - bad reasons - but really it's usually that everyone in publishing is just so overworked.

She suggests to not focus on what you can't control (things like reviews and how many copies a bookstore orders of your book, or your Amazon ranking) and instead focus on what you CAN control:

Like how much you know about how the publishing industry works. (Communicate and get your questions answered.)

Find your community (Like EMU's Debuts and The Class of 2K14 - for learning, marketing and support!)

You control your own marking plan. Your first book, think locally - not just geographically, but the communities you're part of and comfortable in already. (Consider introducing yourself to the local children's librarians in your area…)

And the most important thing you control… write the NEXT book!

It's a remarkable session, with lots more suggestions and advice. Like how success comes in lots of different forms, what to say when friends ask if they can get a free copy of your book, and how to respond when people tell you that they didn't see your book at the bookstore.

She also shares resources from blogs and around the web, and answers attendees' questions. It's great information!

Final thought...

You only publish your first book once, so when it happens, enjoy the hell out of it. But remember the big picture - no one's goal is to only publish one book.

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