An Interview with Rachelle Gardner [Video]

If you are serious about book publishing, you have no doubt found Rachelle Gardner’s blog. That’s how I first discovered her. I immediately subscribed and have been reading her posts ever since. I also follow her on Twitter.

Please forgive the echo on Rachelle’s side of the recording. That was my fault. I am still learning!

Rachelle is a literary agent. She is part of the WordServe Literary Group based in Denver, Colorado. Prior to becoming an agent, she served in a variety of publishing roles.

She has been an editor and ghost writer with eight published books to her credit. She has also worked in licensing, international sales, and marketing.

In this fourteen-minute interview, we discussed:

  1. The advice she would give to new authors who are looking for an agent
  2. The most common mistakes new authors make in approaching agents
  3. Why it is important for authors to go through the process of preparing a formal book proposal
  4. Whether or not building a platform is critical for fiction authors
  5. Why authors should still consider publishing with a traditional publisher when so many self-publishing options are available

We only scratched the surface. If you are an author—or would like to be one—her blog is must-reading. She daily discusses publishing topics from the author’s perspective.

Question: Which of Rachelle’s comments stood out to you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Uwe MaDonna Maurer

    Great interview…Rachelle’s blog is always full of great advice.  Loved the comparison of self-publishing to building a house…how much do you want to do yourself? Great way for unpublished writers to think through it all in a different light. 

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  • Maray Ann Weakley

    I am a follower of both you and Rachelle. Her blogs are generously rich in information. I transfer them to a folder for reference; she covers every area–often just when I need it. Good analogy of the contractor to build your house. Clearly impresses the importance of going for a traditional publisher.
    I have studied book proposals from various sources including yours and hers. All helpful, however, I find I have to revise the format to the specs of nearly every agent who requests a proposal. Wish you all could standardize that process. The content is the same, but the format and depth varies considerably.

    I heard Allen Arnold (Thomas Nelson Publishing) last night at B & N. I never miss when one of your representatives speaks. Appreciated his advice to keep your day job if you are a new author; he shared realistic facts on what to expect monetarily. As new writers we have the gleam of fame in our eyes and it is good to hear the plain truth.   
    Thanks to you and to Rachelle for encouragement and information to writers.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. The process is a little more standardized with non-fiction. Most of the market uses my proposal format. Fiction is a different matter. I’m glad you got to hear Allen. He is terrific.

  • Anonymous

    It”s a very interesting blog… and your work!!! no words to describe it. I am very new to the whole thing and thank you !

    Analyst Cv

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  • Donna Maria Coles Johnson

    I enjoyed this interview. I follow Rachelle on Twitter and enjoy her blog, so it was fun to get a chance to hear from her in this way. thanks!

  • Dorcas

    What a great interview! I had come across your website a couple of months ago as I was searching for a WordPress theme for my website and just thought it was an excellent resource.  Today I was doing some research and found Rachelle’s website and to my surpise there was your interview! I feel very blessed to have come across your websites.  I am learning so much.  Keep up the great work!

  • Karen A Einsel

    I loved the interview. A lot of really helpful insights and it was nice being able to see and hear Rachelle. 

  • Gillian Marchenko

    Great interview!  I appreciate you both Mike and Rachelle (oh, and I was sent from Rachelle’s blog :).

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  • John Young

    Mike I loved the interview and find your gut instinct on what is interesting is still dead on.
    She has her act together and I sense she’d love to bring the next great book to market, but at times, in the media world of positive spin, some bottom line facts get left out. It’s implied every author needs an agent to get in the door, and some publishers have now resorted to walking no further than their lobby to consider an acquistion. There are lots & lots of agents out there. I’d have been curious to  know how many titles she picked up and pitched AND the success ratio of inked contracts in the past year. I’d have loved  hearing  just one or two titles released  that might be impressive in his line of success. We have a lot of authors. We have a lot of agents. We have lots of publicists. But not get the results their websites imply. Sometimes I get lost in the sales pitch and miss knowing the A list agent, and A list publicist. I know the A list authors real well.       

    • Michael Hyatt

      She may have covered this on her blog. You can find Rachelle’s list of clients here. Thanks.

  • Amy Simpson

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I will be attending my first ever ACFW conference this month and am keeping my fingers crossed that I get an appointment with Rachelle to pitch. Both of your blogs have been invaluable. It really takes the edge off of being a newbie!

  • Nancy Diekmann

    I’m one of those writers who dreamed about walking into bookstore, being able to pick up my book from the shelf, and randomly tell someone “I wrote this.” 

  • Dingheng0932

    Thank you to share! Well-written article!

  • Marlene Nord

    This was great. thanks!

  • Lucy Abelson

    As a self published author I appreciate Rachelle’s comments.  – I would certainly have gone with a traditional publisher had I found one and certainly being self published means I have to use a lot of ingenuity to sell books like out of the back of my car. However, although I would be classed as a commercial writer rather than literary, I don’t like to think about markets when I write because I don’t want to become cynical or machine like. I have an idea of my type of reader, someone who listens to Classical fm in the UK. That’s the mood. I often think of Milan Kalundra saying everyone has an audience and there are 4 types.  Writers and actors have an unknown audience but people who like to entertain, give parties have an audience of people they know. Other people have an audience of 1, such as a husband or wife – But the most dangerous audience to have is some one person who is dead… 

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  • Stephany Slater Robinson

    My internet it slow, so this was a duplicate response which I’ve now deleted! Sorry. I’ll just add that these agents and publishers ROCK!

  • Stephany Slater Robinson

    I know my comment is abit behind, but I barely watched this video today! I loved every echoing detail of this video and thought the light on Rachelle’s face was perfect! More so, her face lit up with every question. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared her words in the area of self-publishing every time someone asks me why I haven’t gone for an E-book. It would be a kind of death for the stories that I’m dreaming will take a timeless, hardback form! Keep up the great work Mike & Rachelle!

  • Brian Seidel

    Michael, as a youth pastor I have used things that had a drawback (like an echo) because the content was worth putting up with the quality.  That is most definitely true with this interview.  Thanks for posting it, it was helpful for me!

  • Suzanne Hill

    Great and informative information.  Thank you.

  • Tomas Caulfield

    I’ve just learned more in 14 minutes about how to get a book published than I’ve known for the past 4 years, sice I started writing my novel. Thaks Rachelle.

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  • Nancy Griffin

    I enjoyed the interview very much,and found it to be very informative. This will help
    prepare me with my search for an agent at the beginnig of the new year. I will most definately go to Rachell’s blog.

  • Michael Mulligan

    I like the point about building a platform…proving to the publisher that you know your market and have what it takes.  I took a gazillion notes on this interview to learn what this writing business is all about.  Thank you, Michael and Rachelle, for sharing your words of wisdom with a newbie.

  • asenath

    This is fabulous! Worth the echo! and I think I may change my mind on becoming a published author.

  • JamesH

    They were doing a research work on publishing in the school. Shame I did not find this  post earlier.

  • Ezekush

    I have been strugling to find an agent for over a year now and would like to self publish as it surely takes the hassle out of agents rejecting you because you are a no body.

  • PeggyHat

    Rachelle – I enjoyed your video with Michael Hyatt.  Your comments about why as author should still consider ( or hope to engage) a literary agent and tradtional publisher resonnated with me.

    As a new author I know “it means something” and I want to “attain the dream.” Thank you for sharing your insight.

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  • garr reynolds

    This was really good – thanks for this, Michael.  Fantastic interview!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Garr. I appreciate you stopping by.

  • Brenda Way-Walters

    I went to a Pastors and Leadership Conference in Orlando, FL and was introduced to Dupree and Miller’s staff that works with Bishop TD Jakes.  This segment of the conference was for those who were writing a book and wanted to get it published, they mentioned that we should go to Rachelle Gardner’s internet research blog and listen carefully.  I have subscribed to her blog  recently and in one day I have learned so much about publishing my non fiction book.  Its a lot of work and I have only just begun, though the book has been in the writing process for years.  I wish I could adopt her and bring her home.  Thanks so much Ms. Gardner for caring and sharing.

  • Gabrielle Meyer

    I’m a little late in commenting, but I just found this wonderful interview by googling Rachelle’s name! I’m a big fan of her blog and read (and comment) faithfully there. I’ve learned a great deal from her insightful perspective and common sense approach. As I listened to her advice today, many things stood out to me, but I think what really applies for this stage in my writing is to learn as much as I can about the publishing world, what it takes to make the shift from aspiring author to published author, and build my proposal like a business plan.

  • Bmnation

    Thanks for this video.  I learnt a lot and I am very much encouraged to pursue traditional publishing as I am definitely not extremely business minded.

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  • Rebecca Vance

    I discovered Rachel’s blog when I first decided to get serious about writing. I am working on my debut novel now, and I read her posts daily. She has been a tremendous help. I also follow the blog of one of her clients who swears by her and told me that when my book is ready, I should consider her.  I came over from her blog and it was great to hear her speak. You can see the passion that she has for her work. I really like that. 

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  • Mandy_storm

    why is it always complicated

    • Michael Hyatt

      Because if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. And if everyone were doing it, it wouldn’t have any value.

  • Elizabeth Westmark

    This interview came at precisely the right time to put my feet on the right path in 2013. Thanks for showcasing Rachelle Gardner in this space. I’m grateful to you both.

  • Ron Stephens

    I’m trying to figure out Rachelle’s accent. I hear Canadian in there – subtly, very subtly. I hear “neutral” Ontario pronounciations, and I hear a flat “A” sound in words such as “thaat”. But  it’s nice listening to her, wherever she came from. Ron Stephens/Detroit

  • Marc

    I’m a little confused… I just heard Rachelle say you should have an agent in your corner to help you through all the issues of publishing, and that you should not pursue self-publishing, but what other course do you travel when no agents will take you on? I agree with everything she said about researching the biz, and understanding all that comes with becoming an author, but it is nearly an impossibility to garner an agent or a publishing deal even though I am personal friends with several who are best selling authors, grammy winners, emmy winners, etc., whose people refuse to even talk with you upon their recommendation. Everyone wants a best-selling author in their corner. I always ask, “how many best-selling authors were one time unknown, unpublished authors?” This is my quandary, and I am not sure how to get a book deal. I know I could get that if I sell millions of CDs, like my friends Mark Hall of Casting Crowns or Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real. Or if I starred in a feature film that won an Oscar it would be a slam dunk… I feel like I have a better chance of winning the lottery than having a literary agent sit down and talk with me. Any help accomplishing the impossible would be appreciated.

  • Althea Baldwin

    Rachelle, I thoroughly enjoyed your online video giving vast knowledge and information for new authors. I’m a new author as well as a devoted Christian, and you blessed me so much with your spirit and the information you provided me. I would love to reach out to you to ask questions concerning my very first publishing experience. As I pray, I would love to have guidance to make sure I’m on the right track.   Please respond if you will to my email address at alb370
    My name is Mrs. Althea Baldwin.

  • Tony Archuleta

    “partnering with an advocate” seems to be the best approach when getting started, in the creating, marketing and selling of my book.  It is my first work and I want to find a publisher with integrity to join me in getting profitable.

  • Gil Michelini

    Great interview and with all due respect to the expertise both you have, I did not heard a slam-dunk argument for corporate publishing or for employing an agent. Maybe there isn’t one and maybe as there are 250,000+ books published each year there are 250,000+ situations.

    Her general contractor (GC) analogy was great but I know that I can take my plan for my house to a number of GCs and can select the one I like. I do not have to grovel to them or hope and pray that they will find 5 minutes to talk with me 6 weeks from now. Michael, even you have written several times that agents are busy, well so am I.

    As for what a publisher brings, I hear over and over that they bring nothing to first authors in market except their name on the spine and their influence with booksellers, and that only lasts a few months. It is up to the author to let the world know about the book. This is true with corporate publishing or self publishing.

    Okay, I am done. THANK YOU for the interview. As you can see it, got me thinking and I leave with many questions in search of answers. God bless!

    • Michael Hyatt

      These are all good observations, Gil. I don’t think there is a right answer. It comes down to your own goals, objectives, and platform. Do what works for you!

  • Cassandra Pressley

    I have self- published a book titled, “Grand Mom’s Mole,” I guarantee that children will love this book. Although I have sold some books, I have books in my hand that I paid for myself to sell. I would like to make the transition to a traditional publishing company.

  • Cassandra Pressley

    I wish I had sawt you out earlier.

  • Kristen Witherspoon

    This was very enlightening—especially the part about not coming to the fore front of queries with “thus sayeth the Lord that I needeth to write this book.” Appreciate you guys posting this!

    Found you through Mary DeMuth and Rachelle’s blog. :)

  • Pilar Audain Reed

    I love this woman! A Godsend. Which comment of hers did I enjoy the best? Every SINGLE one.;-)