Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry Potter in all those blockbuster movies based on J.K. Rowling's books, says he's probably the only person in the world who's happy to see the series end. Laine Cunningham, a fifteen-year veteran of the publishing industry, says the demise of Harry Potter is also great news for authors. Authors wanting to take advantage of the opportunity can visit her website for information on the supporting materials they'll need to prove that their work is marketable.
"A quality manuscript is just the first step," Cunningham says. "Authors also need to present themselves to agents and publishers as savvy professionals. They also need to know which agents and publishers take the kind of work they write."
Creating a strong book proposal should be an author's first priority after the manuscript is written. While most writers are familiar with the query letter, the book proposal provides agents and publishers with an in-depth look at the author, the work, and the author's long-term goals. A standard proposal contains ten to twelve different sections and can be confusing to anyone who's unfamiliar with the industry. A description of the different sections of a proposal can be found at Writer's Resource.
"It's all about building a career," Cunningham says. "Nowadays, publishers want to know that writers are able to help market their own books. It isn't enough to have a great story. You must also have a good platform, an understanding of market trends, and future goals that are in sync with your current project."
Once the proposal is done, writers should carefully research agents and publishers. In addition to locating agencies that take a particular kind of work, the research also helps authors make a match that meets their long-term goals. Since the author-agent relationship is a partnership that can span a life's career, the hours pay off in more than monetary terms.
Of course, getting the best deal is still a concern. For some writers, the timing may be perfect for finally placing their work with a publisher or agent. "The void left in the market is gigantic," Cunningham says. "The sixth Potter story was the fastest-selling book in history, and the series has sold a total of 325 million copies. Publishers are scrambling for something new to offer readers."
Despite the eye-bulging numbers, Cunningham says authors don't have to aim that high to achieve phenomenal success. "Authors with sales equal to one of the Potter books will make any publisher ecstatic. Heck, numbers one one-hundredth of a single J.K. Rowling book are still high performers."
When the magic dust settles and the final body count is tallied, one thing's certain: readers and publishers will be looking for the next big writer to fill the void.
Laine Cunningham is a ghostwriter, editor, and publishing consultant. The work produced through her shop has received attention from top publishers such as Random House, HarperCollins, Ballantine, Penguin-Putnam, Viking, and a host of others. She's written hundreds of articles on writing, publishing and book marketing. TV and radio shows have showcased her industry expertise, and she is a guest speaker for fiction and nonfiction groups around the country.