4 Steps to Publishing Your Breakthrough Book
Many speakers spend a lot time dreaming about the day they will walk into a Barnes & Noble, or saunter past an airport bookstore, and see their breakthrough masterpiece on a shelf. And, in fact, I’m quite certain that even the most prolific book writers still get a charge out of that experience. And it happened to me. I can now walk into Barnes & Noble and see my book, Be Bold and Win the Sale, on a shelf with the McGraw-Hill imprint stamped on the spine. I am not going to lie: it is an awesome feeling! And it’s a feeling that I want scores of other speakers to enjoy, so here’s my step-by-step strategy:
Step One: Build Your Audience
Here is your first reality check. It doesn’t start with the book; it starts with the audience. Gone are the days when the task of selling the book belonged to the publisher. Publishers today want proof that you have a large following of potential buyers.
The first step towards getting published begins with finding ways to increase the number of followers who are devoted to you and your message. Find out where your target audience hangs out and put your biggest and best energy towards increasing your presence within that platform.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Linkedin are all good places to start. You’ll also want to tout the size of your email list and the number of people you speak to each year.
Step Two: Become the Definitive Expert
The first question a publisher asks is “Who will buy this book?” The next question is, “Why are you the right person to write it?” These are good questions.
Holding a keen interest in a subject does not make you the go-to authority and it certainly doesn’t make you a credible risk in the eyes of a publisher. You must be known for what you know and a publisher needs to see tangible evidence.
Before I landed a publishing contract, I made it my priority to be known for the concept of overcoming sales discomfort. I worked my content for Be Bold and Win the Sale for YEARS before I approached a publisher. I wrote on the subject for blogs, my own and others. I taught the subject matter over and over. I bled “Bold.” And in the end, I made sure that no one could tell the Be Bold story like I could.
Step Three: Write a Killer Query Letter and Proposal
Sloppy or poorly-written queries and proposals are deal-killers. Think about it: you are trying to get a book deal based on your writing. The proposal must represent the very best you have to offer. My advice: get help! I paid a writer (and former book procurement editor at a New York publishing house) about $500 to shepherd me through the process of refining my query and proposal.
Pros are “pros” for a reason. Log on to eLance.com and find someone to guide you on this step…you won’t regret it.
Step Four: Find an Agent
A literary agent offers the best chance of finding the right publisher for your proposal. (Most publishers have a “very special file” for unsolicited material.)
I created a comprehensive list of agents and prioritized them according to compatibility with my subject matter. My list consisted of potential agents; number 22 chose to represent the book. The key here was to sell my book to the agents. It was a full-fledged pitch, with all the passionate endorsement I could muster because I needed the agent to see my passion (and my boldness!).
Ready to get started?
I’ll end with the bad news/good news.
The bad news is: most people don’t get past step one. Building a book-hungry audience is far more difficult and time-consuming than writing an actual book.
The good news is: because the audience-building process is so difficult, the herd of wannabe published writers thins out as you move through the process. If you maintain the intense passion and determination it takes to get your breakthrough book published, you will find yourself amongst the chosen few.
By the way, did I mention how awesome it feels to see my own breakthrough book at Barnes & Noble?
Live boldly, my friends, and I’ll see you at the bookstore!