Industry Q&A with Alexandra Machinist & Abigail Koons


I don’t take on anything that I don’t think has the potential for tremendous success – Alexandra Machinist

A great idea is different than a great book. – Abigail Koons

  • Don’t start querying until the book is finished.  
  • Critique and contest for feedback and to get used to sharing your work
  • Then, when polished and perfect, begin the query process
  • Research which agents would be best for your book – AgentQuery, Writers Market
  • Every agent is different, just like every writer is different.
  • Don’t blanket query. Take the time to make the query specific to the agent and their requests and guidelines.
  • Make it a little Hollywood, high concept – Tomb Raider meets the DaVinci Code

You can’t disguise bad writing – Abigail Koons

I can decide if I like a book in the first ten pages – Alexandra Machinist

  • When an agent requests your work, be clear on what they are requesting. Not all agents require an exclusive.
  • Make sure the agent is the right fit for you!
  • Check the contract/agency agreement, Make sure you’re not signing on for indentured servitude!
  • If possible, have a lawyer look over it.
  • You do not pay an agent. They get paid when you get paid.
  • 15% is the industry standard, be wary if they want more or less
  • 20-25% is the standard for foreign & media rights, which they can sell separately
  • The manuscript is polished & submitted. It takes between a week and six months to sell a book.
  • If no one bids, discuss the next step with your agent – rewrite, set aside
  • Make sure your agent knows the personal tastes of the editors in the industry so your book has the best chance.

    Alex flashes her gorgeous YSL bling


  • There might be one offer or multiple

I have stupid faith in my own taste – Alexandra Machinist
  • You’ll begin negotiating the contract. You can usually separate foreign rights and have your agent sell them separately
  • 25% of net on ebooks is the industry standard, no one seems to be budging right now
  • An option clause is standard, but how much flexibility is negotiable – full book, partial, synopsis
  • The changing market of erights is evolving the publishing model. Publishers have been redoing their boilerplate contracts.
  • Editors always want changes. There will be an editorial letter and a marked up mss. You do the edits..and wait.
  • Advances are often split, a percentage at signing, delivery, acceptance and publication
  • Take control of your own publicity. Social media is part of your job. Balance your time between promotion and writing.
  • Your book comes out…
  • Be sure you are appealing outside of the romance writing community
  • Each book has to be better than the last

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