Wouldn”t it be nice to write a book, get paid handsomely for it and be considered a top expert all at once? It”s possible–if you know the rules.
1. Study the publishing industry.
Today celebrity books rule. Books that catch a quick trend come in second. Take chick lit, for example. Nobody cared about hip books for women ten, or even five years ago. But women buy the majority of books–and actually read them. It”s not to say that other book genres aren”t viable. Of course they are. The big categories of fiction and non- fiction will live on forever. But even self-help is on the wane according to some sources. And, as a literature savvy friend of mine said, *Plots are passe.* There”s much more to know about the industry. Like what agents look for and how publishers decide on what will be profitable.
2. Understand that publishers don”t buy books, they buy ideas.
Many new authors think they need to write a book to sell it. Not so. You develop an idea (fiction excluded) and give publishers a taste of what”s to come. They decide whether your idea has a large enough market for them to make money on it. You must prove, without a doubt that they can. Lots of it.
3. Think of your proposal as the business plan for your book.
Map out the life of your book in the marketplace for the next five years. Plan on devoting at least that much time to promoting it.
4. Have a huge platform.
A platform is simply YOUR ability to sell books to the audience that you have said will buy–from you. Are you already a *personality* people recognize and love? How many organizations, companies, groups do you speak to every month? Do you write regularly for newspapers, magazines or the Internet? Do you have prestigious clients who can sell your books in bulk to their corporations? You get the idea. You must *look* like a mover and shaker in your field.
5. Be a media star.
If you”re not already a familiar face on TV, a vivacious voice on the radio or a person who appears in print often, not to worry. If you can show you have the potential to become a star, that”s a start. Maybe you”ve been on local TV and had rave reviews. If so, mention that.
A major publishing house hired me to media coach one of their rising star authors. Her book was getting major national press–but she was dull. And they were worried that her lackluster personality would effect her book sales. We worked until she got comfortable on camera while talking vividly in 15 second soundbites.
7. Get media coached.
With some media coaching you can morph into a mediagenic maven. But it does take practice and sincere commitment. You can work on your pizzazz factor by studying great interviewees and modeling the behaviors you liked. If you cant afford a media coach, get out that video camera and do mock interviews with friend. A lot can be revealed and ironed out just by seeing how you appear to others on the big screen.
8. Develop your platform.
When I interviewed editors at top New York publishing houses like Simon & Schuster & HarperCollins they told me repeatedly that the most important thing a writer can have today is a strong *platform.* A platform is a plan of how you are going to reach your audience to sell books.
Prove you have a following. Publishers want to know who has bought your books or products in the past– and they want to know how many. Can you show that you have a track record of selling your goods to people across the globe, or at least in your community? Maybe youre not as far along in your career as one of my clients who is a $12,000 an hour speaker who put in his proposal the fact that his audiences range from 100-10,000 people, and he speaks 250 times per year.
His speaking bureau typically sells his video and audio tapes to those audiences in advance when they book his talk. What you want to show is how you can secure sales in large quantities to people you know will buy from you–because they have bought already. Or how audiences similar to the ones who have purchased are primed to buy your book.
9. Get high profile endorsements.
To instantly establish your stature put these accolades on page number one so theyre the first thing an agent or editor sees. Endorsements need to be from celebrities, best- selling authors and well-known experts in your field.
Show that youre respected in the world. Endorsements show that high-level people believe in you, that youre a good bet. They also go on your book cover jacket and help sell your book–and in todays competitive marketplace its essential. Dont say youre *actively seeking endorsements.* Leading with the endorsements makes sure an agent or editor gets that youre a big shot–or soon will be.
One secret that many authors dont know is the best blurbs are written by the writers themselves. Dont expect famous people to read your tome. They dont have the time or the desire. And please dont send it to them unsolicited. Ask permission. Then do the work for them and ask them to sign off on that perfect gem–the one youve written–touting the marvels of your work.
10. Your sample chapter.
Once youve established that the author has some sort of a platform, that they have some voice in the world beyond their circle of friends, I go straight to the sample chapter.
Prove you can write. *I want to know if they are a good writer, because an agent can tinker away with the rest of the proposal and make it sound really good,* says Kelly Notaras, a Senior Editor at Hyperion.
What if youre not a great writer? Hire a ghost writer. Remember platform is non-replaceable. You, the personality, the presence, is what theyre investing in. Good writing can be bought. Star quality cant