Q: I spent over 8 months working in New Orleans after Katrina. While I was there, I took lots of pictures that I would like to put in a book.

Do I need an agent before I talk to publishers and is there any merit in looking for corporate sponsors?

Thank you for all you do,

A: Giving eight months of your life to work in New Orleans after Katrina is amazing!

I don’t know what kind of book you are planning, but you should think about how it would go together, and then create a book proposal. The proposal should give some samples of the photos and captions you would use, a sample of the writing, and then should give a specific description of how the book would lay out.

Then, you need to research how many other photo books on Katrina/New Orleans, are coming out (that’s called researching the competition) and make a case for how yours differs from the others. You should also include a section in the book about marketing (how you’re going to market your product). It helps if you have contacts in the media, write a regular column for the paper, or are well-known for photography.

Finally, the end of your book proposal should include information on who your are, your “resume” or CV.

Once you have that together, you should pitch a few agents to see if they have any reactions. You can certainly contact my agent, Alice Martell, 545 Madison Avenue, New York 10022 to see if she’d have any interest. Otherwise, your proposal will go into what’s known as a “slush pile,” with all the other unagented manuscripts.

I’ve slogged through slush piles before (well before I became a radio talk show host, I was an editorial assistant at a publishing company), and while you can get noticed, having an agent represent you is a faster way to see if you can sell your book.

If you can’t sell to a NY publisher, you can always try to self-publish and sell it via the web. This is easier to do today than ever before. Take a look at iUniverse and other publishers like that.

Hope this helps. Good luck with the book! And, thanks for listening to me on Newstalk 750 WSB.