Agent Jim Donovan’s thoughts of the Donovan agency: For the author trying to get published, this means they need to polish their writing just as they always have. The problem with 90% of the queries I see is that the author’s not ready for prime time. Every writer wants to jump straight to a book contract even if they’ve never been published before. That almost never happens in nonfiction–if they don’t have any publishing credits, they need to get published in short form in a reputable magazine. That makes them professional, and NY publishers take notice of that. It means that a reputable magazine–and by that I mean one with standards of editorial acceptance, meaning they don’t accept everything–considers their writing to be good enough to pay money for. Without that, well–unless the author has an extremely strong platform, publishers are reluctant to take a chance on risking tens of thousands of dollars on someone who’s never been published anywhere, much less written a published book. Would you pay someone $50,000 to build you a house if they’ve never constructed anything, not even a chair? That’s at least how much a NY publisher invests in even the smallest book–advance, editing, design, printing, shipping, marketing, etc.

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