Barbara Poelle’s Ye Olde Manual of First Book Accomplishments

Our guest today is Barbara Poelle, a literary agent with the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

Barbara began her publishing career as a freelance copywriter and editor before joining the Goodman Agency in 2007, but feels as if she truly prepared for the industry during her brief stint as a stand-up comic in Los Angeles. She has found success placing thrillers, literary suspense, historical romances, humorous/platform driven non-fiction, and upmarket fiction and is actively seeking her next great client in those genres, but is passionate about anything with a unique voice. Barbara has a very hands on approach with the craft and editorial details of the books she represents, and loves working with her clients to take their writing to the next level.

Thanks, Barbara, for stopping by the Debutante Ball!

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When my client Tracy Kiely (do you have your copy of MURDER AT LONGBOURN yet?) connected me up with Alicia to guest blog on the topic of “next books”, I got my little grey turtleneck out and adjusted my glasses and cleared my throat and got all agenty and prepared to grandly pontificate on things like branding and intent and series versus stand alone and blah blah blah. Then I stopped to check in: have you made sure before you move on to “next book”  that you have taken the time to get everything you can out of the first book?

I am not talking about signings and blog tours and social media reaches and learning experiences and “hey, who knew you had zero say over your title and cover art”, and “man, I have grown as a person and a writer” and “gee, seeing the book on the shelves is a reward in itself”. Those are all important, of course, but that’s not what I am going for here. I mean did you truly, deeply, voraciously enjoy EVERY ASPECT of being a published author that first time around? Did you roll around in your accomplishment, dive into it and scoop it over your face and arms like Scrooge McDuck in his money vault? Have you applied the 100 Sacred Squeezes to your book one?

What’s that you say?

You don’t know what I am talking about?

I am talking, of course, about a legendary tome, heretofore believed to be mythological, the existence of which I will confirm for the first time ever on this blog … Barbara Poelle’s Ye Olde Manual of First Book Accomplishments. Specifically the list heretofore known as The Sacred Squeeze Addendum which, by following, ensures you got every last drop you deserve out of having your first book published. For example:

1. Did you buy yourself a present and wrap it and then tear it open on your pub date, gasping in delight at your own thoughtfulness?

2. Did you make your spouse/partner/significant other wrap themselves in saran wrap and serve you a champagne flute using the book as a tray?

3. Did you send a copy to the address of that chick who was mean to you in junior high, but enclose a note to someone with a totally different name and only by some craaaaaazy, waaaacky once-in-a-lifetime mail fluke did it fall into her hands?!?!? (Never mind the 50 bucks you spent to find her on people search and the two hours you spent Google-stalking her to make sure. That’s all a write-off.)

4. Did you lick melted dark chocolate off of the title page? (Cookie dough will do here in a pinch.)

5. Did you get out of a dreaded social engagement by calling the host and with regretful tones describe how your editor just emailed and needs you to “blueline the sellthrough to FOS and reup on the D&A in order to sustain uptrend” and you have to regretfully pull out of the evening?

6. Did you budge in the drop off line for carpool, hold your cell up to your ear and mouth “sorry, my agent” and roll your eyes?

7. Did you tear open your box of author copies, explode out onto your front steps, hold it aloft and scream “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!!!”

Now, due to legalities including Fair Use Law and of course, the Cone of Silence Initiative, I am only able to share seven of them, like the highly effective habits, but this is the best part…you can GUESS at the rest in the comments section. GO.

13 Replies to “Barbara Poelle’s Ye Olde Manual of First Book Accomplishments”

  1. Damn, I totally missed out on #2. Must rectify, post haste.

    I did, however, have my family start referring to me reverently as “the author.” As in, my Mom, the author. Or “Hey, Mom, the author, can I borrow the car tonight?” Which, sadly, wore off its shine about the time it turned into, “Hey, Mom, the author, where’s the toilet plunger?”

    I think I need this book, Barbara.

  2. When I received my author copies I took one to the park and read it cover to cover. At times, I pretended that I wasn’t the author, but just a man in a park enjoying a good read, which is how I remained calm enough to finish the read. Was sort of mind-blowing to hold MY book after so many years of dreaming and hard work. It was a warm August day, and it was one of my life’s best. So many authors have encouraged me to celebrate every step. Not just publications, but finishing manuscripts, paychecks from writing, every talk, every fan e-mail, even days spent writing, everything. And it is always harder than you think it would be. I find that the more success you have, the harder it is to celebrate and appreciate, because the bar is always rising. Sometimes I ask myself how would the struggling un-agented unpublished Q of ten years ago be reacting to the current writing career news. The answer is usually the way to go. Thanks for your good advice, Barbara.

  3. I’m just guessing, of course, I suspect this is another entry: have cover art blown up to poster size and then frame it (double-matted, of course). Hang new piece of art somewhere where all who visit will see it. Upon guests commenting, avert eyes downward and mutter, ‘Oh, that…” Repeat entire scenario if you have rental house, and leave roughly 1,000 bookmarks strewn about.

  4. Love, love, love this post! Barbara, your sense of fun and enthusiasm shines through, and it’s exactly what I need, because my debut is two weeks away and I’m starting to stress rather than enjoy. Perfect timing!

    I think #8 is calling all your friends and making them follow you to a bookstore on debut day, snapping photos and begging you to give them a good shot while you wear oversized dark glasses and a trenchcoat, and murmur to everyone that you’d really just like to be left alone, but the paparazzi won’t let you (optional: Also arrange this scene to take place in front of your ex-boyfriend).

  5. Congrats on your debut, Sarah!

    We’re having a party for my friend whose book is coming out – I’m the designated driver, and we’re hauling my minivan around Oakland visiting bookstores and bars, probably alternating between the two until the former are closed up for the night and the latter are cowering in terror as they see us roll up. I’m thinking we might start doing this for every debut in our gang. Of the eight of us, three already had our first books, one is teetering on a sale, and the rest are crazy talented and it’s only a matter of time before we’re all grabbing greedily at the arc and refusing to share (one of us, ahem, hid a borrowed arc so she could feel like the special preferred friend….)

  6. Thanks again for guesting here, Barbara. You made me laugh and reminded me of something important yet easy to forget amidst the rush and activity of publication: ENJOY the experience!

  7. Well…I skipped up and down the driveway, but that was just for the sale. Release is a couple of months away for me, but I’m going to print out this list and then add to it as I think of stuff to do! Thanks four being our guest here at the Ball!

  8. Barbara is such a good agent that when any of her clients are celebrating a sale or publication date, she gets herself wrapped up in Saran, serves champagne in a flute (once we told her it was glassware and not a wind instrument, the insurance rates dropped) and serves truffles to all the people in the building by riding up and down the elevator at 5pm.

    I have pictures.

    I can be bribed.

  9. I *knew* this list was real! Everybody told me it was an urban myth like alligators in the sewer or that $250 cookie recipe from Nordstrom’s, but I knew. Now, when do we get to the real dirt of Times New Roman vs. Courier?

  10. Okay, BP Fan Club…

    Instead of paying me the $20 you *still* owe me, how about we use that as payment for the pictures?

    Am I allowed to scream “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!!!” for finishing these revisions? At the very least a happy dance? Anything?

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