I love when people ask me how I became an agent. Not because I have such an interesting story. But because I think my story is pretty typical of how anyone achieves anything. In today's media blitz where it looks like folks become hits overnight, it's important for authors to know that hard work is really the only way to find success.
This was going great until we moved to a tiny little town for my husband's job where no one needed a marketing professional (or rather no one wanted to pay for a marketing professional). Instead, I started looking for online opportunities and came across Corvisiero's posting for a PR intern. The rest is pretty much history.
All of the hard work that went into the part between becoming an intern and the rest is history. During that in between part I made it my personal mission to become invaluable. I integrated myself into every area of the agency, volunteering for extra duties, finding areas that needed improvement and fixing them instead of waiting to be asked. I wanted to hit the end of my internship and have Marisa know that she absolutely needed me to be a permanent part of the team.
So what does that have to do with you as a writer?
As an author you have two groups of people that you want to be invaluable to. Your Readers and Your Publisher!
To become invaluable to your readers you need to deliver the goods. That means regularly writing and publishing new material that meets the high standards you've set for yourself as an author. It means giving your readers the behind the scenes and insider secrets that create a community around you and your work. And it means anticipating what they want to read next without even asking. I realize this is asking a lot, but you don't become invaluable simply by publishing one good story and checking out to play Candy Crush.
To become invaluable to your publisher you need to not just meet their expectations, but exceed them. Editors work with a lot of authors. They expect you to turn in your edits on time, produce clean drafts and put out the marketing efforts you've agreed on. If you do these things it's good, but it doesn't make you invaluable. You need to go above and beyond. Get your manuscripts in early. Spend the extra time to make sure you aren't missing edits, don't just follow through on their marketing plan, go out and create your own opportunities. Do more. Again. This isn't easy, neither is being green, but that's not really the point.
When you become invaluable you will have editors who are not just willing to work with you on your next book, but who are actively asking your agent what else you have to send them. When you become invaluable to readers they don't just read your next book (eventually), they go to the book store at midnight to pick it up with tons of your other fans who can't wait to read your next words.
Being invaluable isn't about finding success. It's about creating success.
So what are you doing to become invaluable?