Ask the Agent — The Book

If you look over there on the right, you will see the cover for my new (and only) book, Ask the Agent: Night Thoughts on Writing and Book Publishing. It’s an e-book  collection of the best writings from this blog.   It required a considerable amount of editing and rearranging, and I added some new material as well.  Last week I launched a “that attack” on the manuscript,  managed to identify the word “that” over 500 times, and eliminated 350 of them. Designing the cover was easier than I thought. Of course, I had to use Photoshop, which takes months to learn. I took some old leather-bound  books off my shelf and photographed the spines as the background and then superimposed the text. I had to crop it so that the ratio of height to width was 3:2.

Since Amazon won’t cooperate with anyone else, I had to format it and upload it twice. Once for Amazon’s Kindle Direct and once for Smashwords. The Amazon edition only works on Kindles. All the other major readers (iPad, Sony, Nook, Kobo) use the epub format which is available on Smashwords.  It should be  up on iTunes, Sony, Kobo, Indiebound, or from your local independent bookstore in the next few days.

Preparing it  for Amazon Kindle Direct was easy. You take your MS Word manuscript and make a few formatting changes  using Amazon’s simple instructions. When you upload the file, you can preview it on a viewer and see exactly how it will look on the various Kindle readers. That’s important to make sure the formatting is correct. Then you upload your cover and provide copyright information.

A few hours after I uploaded the file, I received an e-mail from Amazon telling me that they saw   that much of the information in the book was already posted on line. They requested that I email them back with an explanation. Since I wrote all of  the material and it is  on the blog, there were no copyright infringement problems. But it’s good to know that Amazon is trying to do something about piracy. I wrote them an explanation and was back in business within 24 hours. I’m not sure how the technology for identifying this works, but it is nifty.

Formatting for Smashwords is more complicated but very do-able. Since Smashwords makes the text available in a wide range of formats, it has more stringent formatting requirements. Smashwords provides a step by step style manual that is written in plain English. When you upload the file, Smashwords will inform you if there are specific formatting issues.

I hope some of you will buy the book. I arranged it so that it’s much easier to read than the blog. I organized it into 4 sections that more or less coincide with the topics I’ve been writing about. The first section includes my agent-y advice to writers on getting published and finding an agent. There are  numbered tips on query letters, book proposals and the like.  The second section has writings about writing. The third is about book publishing. And finally I have written some recollections about my 35 years as a bookseller.

Thanks for reading this blog. I’ve had almost 200,000 page views since it began in 2009. I hope you enjoy the book.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

26 Responses to “Ask the Agent — The Book”

  1. Mary Jo McConahay Says:

    You are a gift to writers, authors and prospective authors. Will buy. Even though I already have a terrific agent.

  2. Gretta Mae Stephen Says:

    Reblogged this on UK's Publishing Today.

  3. William McClung Says:

    Howdy Andy. This is interesting and helpful. How about doing another workshop at UPB/Berkeley — this time on how to publish your own ebook?

  4. Heather Villa (@HeatherVilla1) Says:


    Congratulations! Priced at $2.99, the valuable book is a deal.

    I know how the word “that” can shows up too much in a manuscript. I also find the same to be true with the word “just.”

    By the way, I sent out a tweet about your new book (a bit of “E” advertising).

    Heather Villa

    • andyrossagency Says:

      Thanks Heather. I’ll report back periodically how this book is doing. My financial objective is to be able to buy my daughter, Hayley, a new pair of shoes. But if things go viral, maybe I will be able to get her a college education. I did some other word searches. Got rid of every “very”. (To say something is “very good” doesn’t really add to the fact that it is “good”. Also I looked for “lots” and fixed a lot (haha) of those.
      There are still copy edits and formatting problems. It’s very (haha) easy to revise the text and upload. So I’d be grateful if you let me know about that (haha) when you see anything.

  5. Heather Villa (@HeatherVilla1) Says:

    I’ll be sure to let you know if I see anything.

    Your financial objective hits home. 🙂


  6. Suzanne Bohan Says:

    Thanks for these great tips. And I’ll get your book on Amazon – it’s a good value!

  7. Andrew Says:

    Just purchased your ebook! I have really enjoyed reading your posts over the past two years. I always look forward to seeing an “Ask the Agent” email in my inbox. I meet a lot of creative writing majors at my university, and I regularly recommend your site as a resource.

    I am especially interested in your reflections on Cody’s and bookselling. After watching Paperback Dreams, I wanted to read every book I could find about independent bookstores. Your posts, Lewis Buzbee’s Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, and Fred and Pat Cody’s Life and Times of a Berkeley Bookstore are among my favorites. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  8. Sharon Barrow Henning Says:

    I just bought your book. I’ve subscribed to your blog and have been reading it for just a little while, but I have found your advice to be the most valuable of all the writing blogs I read. Have a good day!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Andy, congrats and thank you for putting this out there! I hang on every word of yours that pertains to agents and publishing…realistic (read, sometimes discouraging) though they may be. What do I do if I am an old fashioned, highlighting, dog-earring book reader? Any chance to get this in hard copy? I’ll pay!
    All the best,

    • Katie Mahon Says:

      Didn’t mean to make the above anonymous!

      • andyrossagency Says:

        Thanks, Katie. It’s so nice to hear from you again. I was thinking about how to put out a print on paper version. Here’s the problem. Publishing an e-book is free. So you can afford to sell it for $3. Publishing a print on paper book costs about $10 per book (maybe more).. You can purchase a pdf. version of the book from Smashwords and read it on your adobe reader or print it out. Or you can download for free an adobe digital edition reader that allows you to read ebooks on your computer. You can also download a free kindle reader and read kindle editions. That’s the best I can do right now.

    • Anonymous Says:

      If you buy it in PDF format you should be able to print it.

  10. Cyndi Perkins Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your e-book formatting experiences. I just started following your blog, found while shopping for agents/publishers to query on my first novel manuscript. Looking forward to learning more. Best wishes on the book!

  11. Ilana DeBare Says:

    Congrats Andy. This is a great resource to up and coming writers. Normally I refer people who ask about how to get published to your blog, but now I can send them to the e-book.

  12. Life and Other Turbulence Says:

    Hi Andy,
    I met you about 2 (?) years ago when you came to speak to The Writing Mama’s Salon at Book Passage. I’ve been following your blog ever since. Looking forward to getting your book for my Kindle so I can learn more about the process of publication, should I choose to go that route once my book is completed. Thanks for sharing your vast experience and wisdom with us.
    All good wishes,

  13. David Biddle Says:

    Looking forward to an informative and enlightening read, Andy. Staying on top of the changing world of agents and publishing is not easy. By the way, I discovered you and your work through this blog post:

    Thanks for all you do!

  14. David Stroebel Says:

    Hi Andy,
    How does an author send you a submission query? I wrote a book detailing my great-grandmother’s banishment from the Krupp steel dynasty of Essen, Germany (non-fiction).

    Thank you,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: