Agent Michael Larsen on Starting Your Career (Part 3)

Anne Lamott begins a chapter of her wonderful book Bird by Bird like this: There’s an old New Yorker cartoon of two men sitting on a couch at a busy cocktail party, having a quiet talk. One man has a beard and looks like a writer. The other seems like a normal person. The writer type is saying to the other: “We’re still pretty far apart. I’m looking for a six-figure advance, and they’re refusing to read the manuscript.” If you find yourself pretty far apart from publishers, perhaps you need to consider using the following building blocks to construct your career as a successful author. (This is Part III of this guest column. Part I is here and Part II is here.)

Michael Larsen and his wife Elizabeth Pomada
founded Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents in
San Francisco. They are AAR members
and have sold books to more than 100
publishers. Michael is the author or co-author
of How to Write a Book Proposal and
Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. He runs
a new agent blog, as well. To see the
nonfiction topics he seeks, click here.

14. Be an authorpreneur: Speaker Sam Horn’s brilliant word which, for me, means:

  • having the entrepreneurial ability to create something out of nothing: an idea; a book that you can sell in more forms, media and countries than ever ; an international 365/24/7 business; and a career
  • coming up with ideas that you can sell in as many forms, media, and countries as possible
  • being responsible for your success
  • being unique by being creative in writing and promoting your books
  • being resourceful in meeting challenges
  • looking at everything you experience and reflexively wondering if there’s a way to use it to enrich your personal or professional life
  • using speed, creativity and flexibility to compensate for size
  • embracing and taking advantage of new information, technology, and opportunities created by accelerating change

15. Have courage: Believe in yourself and the value of your books. You will overcome the obstacles that await you.

16. Take the long view:
A writing career isn’t one book but ten or twenty, each better and more profitable than the last. So you have to balance and integrate your short- and long-term goals.

17. Grow yourself: You are the most important factor in your success. You have to challenge yourself to improve physically, mentally, spiritually, and professionally. You have to keep learning if you want to keep earning.

You are Needed Now: Creative, resourceful people keep proving that anything is possible, that we are limited only by our ideas and the time and resources we devote to developing them. The world needs all the information, inspiration, help and entertainment you can provide. Enjoy the journey and best of luck!

(This is part three on Michael’s thoughts for writers and their career. Part I is here and Part II is here.)

Michael Larsen’s book, How to Write a
Proposal (now in its third edition) has
sold more
than 100,000 copies and
helped countless writers
sell their work.

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One thought on “Agent Michael Larsen on Starting Your Career (Part 3)

  1. Molly Campbelll

    I think this is priceless advice. I am a writer who began writing in my kitchen, and just because I am old and brave, I am finding readers all over the place. I just observe and type, observe and type. I wish I had written THIS article. Thanks so much for the great information for all of us. molly


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