Last weekend, Wendy Strothman joined two editors, three other agents and about 30 midcareer writers at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. The setting was a panel discussion that sought to demisify book publishing. Here's one piece of their invaluable advice:
Editors and agents think simultaneously about the quality of the idea and the existence of a market for it. This is why in developing a book proposals it’s important to research and write about the competition—the existence of other successful books in an area shows that people will be willing to plop down $25 for a book on the subject. As Wendy Strothman explained, if she’s going to spend months with an author developing a worthy idea, she wants to make sure that there will be a payoff in eventual sales.
For the rest of Constance Hale's report on the panel, head over to Sin and Syntax.