Tips for Getting Published

edita kayeThe saying goes that every person has at least one great book or movie in them.  So if you’re looking to write a book, then great, that’s awesome!  However, just because you’ve got a great book in you doesn’t mean it’s easy to get it published.  I recently came across an article by Mack Collier, where he shared the steps he took to getting his book “Think Like a Rock Star – How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans” published.  While you might not be looking to make a book about marketing strategy, the article has some excellent tips, listed below:

  1. Figure out what you want to write about: This might sound like a given, but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.  You need to figure out the kind of book that you, not anybody else, were meant to write, and that nobody else could write.  The author of the article uses an example, when in 2008 he was approached by an editor to write a book on marketing on YouTube, when there were very few books out about social media.  Collier turned it down, realizing that he wasn’t interested in writing about YouTube or touring across the country speaking about the topic.
  2. Figure out why your book is unique: Once you find out your book’s topic, you find out that your book has already been written several times.  As the saying goes, there are no original ideas.  You need to find out what your “hook” is; what you’re going to bring to the table that’s unique, but will still have value for readers.
  3. Find 3-5 books that you think are similar to your idea: Once you realize that your book isn’t as original as you originally thought, take a few books that are similar to your idea, and for each one explain what your book offers that the competing titles miss.  Then try to pick a newer title for your book.  For example, if you propose that your book idea will be competing against 5 books all written 20+ years ago, the publisher will think that your idea is dead, otherwise somebody would have written about it in the past 20 years.
  4. Create an outline and table of contents: This is where your writing starts to get serious, and you find out if you really want to write a book or are just toying with the idea.  This will be a lot more work than expected, but you’ll have to show this to a potential publisher, and will ultimately make the writing process a lot easier, as it forces you to flesh out your idea into several chapters to help you better structure your book’s message.
  5. Write the first 1-3 chapters: This is another great test for preparing for the process.  If you can hand a publisher a solid proposal for the book that includes 1-3 well-written chapters, then you’ll make a great case for getting your book published.  Writing those chapters will also give you a great idea of how long it will take you to write the entire book.
  6. Create a proposal for the book: By completing the first five steps of the article, you’ve more-or-less already done this.  You’ll need to tell publishers who the market is for your book, why you’re the person who is meant to write it, what it’s about, what your competing titles are, etc.  You’ll also need to include a table of contents, as well as any chapters you’ve written so far, as well as an explanation to the publisher for how you plan to market the book.  You’ll want to mention any speaking that you’ll be doing on the topic, as well as your following and online profile.
  7. Having a killer idea trumps online presence: While a good online presence never hurt, it isn’t nearly as effective as you think it is.  In the article, Collier talks about how despite his impressive online presence, none of his publishers knew who he was, and the fact that he had a great idea that publishers thought would sell was much more important than how many Twitter followers he had.
  8. Find out if you want a literary agent or not: At first, you might not think that you need to get an agent.  And it isn’t always necessary; suitable publishing deals can often come to you.  If that doesn’t happen, then you might want to get an agent, but there are a few things you need to know.  First, you’ll have to pay an agent, most often a cut of any money you get from the book.  At the same time, you get access to several dozen publishers, with whom the agent regularly works, and the agent can look over any contract you’re offered and help with the terms.
  9. Getting an agent means a lot more rejection letters: When an agent is getting your book out there to a lot of publishing companies, it means that you’ll be hearing a lot more rejections than you were before.  While this is disappointing, it also serves as a big help, since most publishers explain why they’re turning down your book.  So long as publishers give this explanation, then you can work with it and make your book that much better when you offer it to the next publisher.  
  10. 10. Don’t expect to get rich: If your publisher accepts your book, you’ll likely get an advance of $5,000-$10,000.  However, remember that this is an advance, meaning that you’ll have to pay the money back to the publisher in your royalties.

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