Sunday, November 24, 2013

How I Got a Literary Agent...and then Decided to Self-Publish (Thanks, Michael Hyatt)

It must have been sometime in 2007/2008 when I first bumped into Michael Hyatt on the Internet. Back then, he was CEO of Thomas Nelson (the world's largest Christian publisher) and he was somewhat new to blogging (I believe). Even though he wasn't the blogging powerhouse back then that he is now, he was still very visible. I stumbled upon a list on his blog, Literary Agents Who Represent Christian Authors (which has since been updated), and I'm pretty sure I felt like I had just found the Holy Grail of literary agent lists (it really is an amazing list!). I might have even queried every single one of those agents. In my "previous life in book publishing," I was an eager "aspiring author" trying to land a literary agent who could then help me sell my manuscript to a major traditional publisher. I didn't really know of any other way at that point. Maybe I had heard of self-publishing, but in '07/'08 there was definitely still a stigma attached to self-publishing... So, eventually I received a positive response from one of those agents on Michael's list. I sent my full manuscript to the agent and the agent ultimately decided to represent me. I also emailed Michael later on to discuss this agent and I'm still amazed to this day that I received a personal response from Michael Hyatt himself. It is so incredibly rare for the CEO of a major publishing company to respond directly to an outside author. It absolutely blew me away and made me a lifelong supporter of him!

Most of you know that traditional publishing didn't end up being the route that I chose -- or the route that chose me ... My (former) agent struggled with his health and we ended our business relationship amicably because he simply could not give my novel, Unconventional, the attention it deserved. I was kind of devastated by this, but by early 2009 the self-publishing stigma started to lessen. During this time, because of my dealings with the agent -- and because some of my author friends encouraged me to self-publish -- I decided self-publishing might be for me. I performed hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours of research and opened my own publishing company, MindStir Media, and self-published Unconventional. Thankfully, Unconventional became a huge hit, first as a serialized podiobook (i.e. podcast audiobook) and later as an ebook and paperback. The book has sold over 100,000 units as a self-published book and I'm proud of that. Since then I've helped thousands of other writers through publishing consultations and self-publishing services that I offer via MindStir Media.

I've been a loyal reader of Michael Hyatt's blog throughout the years. I've never met him in person and maybe I never will, but I'll always be thankful to him for his list and personal email response. Without either of those, I probably would have been lost. It's funny how sometimes the person who affects us the most is the person we've never even met, the person who simply took a few moments out of his/her hectic day to respond to our questions. It's people like Michael Hyatt who remind me that every little act of kindness matters. In honor of the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, I just want to share my thankfulness and at the same time share my little success story. And hey, if you're reading this, Michael (and I have a sneaky suspicion that you will via Google Alerts) -- thank you!

In case any of you are interested, Michael just self-published a new ebook under his very own publishing imprint, Fleming House Publishers (website coming soon at The ebook, entitled The Virtual Assistant Solution, explains how to be less stressed and more productive by delegating work to a virtual assistant. I use a whole team of virtual assistants myself and delegating to them has helped me immensely, so as always I'm on board with Michael's advice. A virtual assistant can be incredibly helpful for authors and book publishers alike.

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