Many authors tell tales of receiving enough rejection letters from agents and publishers to wallpaper an entire room before landing a deal. I was fortunate. Two weeks after sending my proposal out, I got an agent, and a week later I was signing a deal with John Wiley & Sons, Inc. to publish The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service. While I can’t promise that will happen for you, I can tell you the steps I took to get there. If you’re hoping to have your non-fiction book published by a major house, here are a few steps to follow:
1. Choose a Topic/Angle You are Passionate About –You’ve got to be able to sell this book to an agent, to an editor and to potential buyers. So why write a book that you are only “ho-hum” about? If you’re not up all night thinking about this book, you won’t have the passion you need to get it on the shelves – and flying off them.
2. Research, Research, Research – Spend some time in the bookstore looking at books written about the same topic as yours. How is your book alike and how is it different? Know very clearly why the marketplace needs yet another book on the same topic and be able to articulate that in your proposal.
3. Write a Fabulous Proposal * Write a Fabulous Proposal * Write a Fabulous Proposal – This is key. I spent two years researching this book and writing the proposal. According to my agent, many authors don’t take the time to write a good proposal. You want your proposal to be as well written and as compelling as your book is going to be. Be thorough. Show your personality. Your energy should leap off the page when agents and editors read it. They should get really clearly what your book is about, who will buy it, why it’s needed, and what you are going to do to promote it. One book that helped me a great deal was Write the Perfect Book Proposal by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman.
4. Know Your Numbers – You can’t rely on the publisher to promote your book. It’s your job. In your proposal, let agents and editors know how many people you reach on a daily basis via speaking engagements, your website, your e-zine or newsletter, your radio show and your blog. If your numbers aren’t very large, get commitments from your colleagues to help you promote the book and add their numbers into your proposal as well. A publisher wants to know that you can sell this book to large numbers of people.
5. Call in the Experts – Don’t be afraid to call on people who have done this before to help you – and be ready to pay for their services. I used Diana Booher, Susan RoAne, Sam Horne and Greg Godek to help me with different parts of my proposal. Their advice was invaluable. Be ready to listen to them even if it’s painful. One of those experts ripped apart my summary. It was hard to hear – but it helped me to raise the bar and get the result I was hoping for.
6. Don’t Listen to the Experts – Sometimes it’s okay to go with your gut. I once had an idea for a book called “Bring Joy to the Job.” So many people told me the idea of having “joy” on the “job” was too tough a sell. Later a book called “Joy at Work” by Dennis Bakke became a New York Times Bestseller. One widely published author told me not to ask for a hardcover book because I’d never get it. I left the request in, and The Celebrity Experience was published in hardcover. Heed expert advice most of the time. Other times, listen to your gut.
7. Look at Books Similar to Yours to Find Your Agent –You can find potential agents by looking at the Acknowledgement sections of books like yours. Most authors thank their agents. Their agent may be interested in yours as well. Do plan on working with an agent. As a first time author, negotiating a book contract can be tricky business. The 15% I pay to my agent is well worth it to me.
8. Use Your Connections – Who do you know that has an agent already, or is published by the house you want to work with? Ask them to read your proposal and if they like it, pass it on to their agent or editor. Do not take it personally if they say no. Do ask their advice and feedback on your proposal either way.
Follow these tips and you may find yourself wallpapering your room with letters that say “YES, we want to publish your book.”
Donna Cutting is the author of The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red-Carpet Customer Service (Wiley, 2008) and a full-time keynote speaker on the topics of customer service and employee engagement.
This guest post was part of a virtual blog book tour done by Teresa at Key Business Partners.
Yesterday, the blog tour stopped at these blogs:
Betty Lynch / My Country Kitchen will showcase a book excerpt from Donna’s book.
Phil Gerbyshak / Make It Great who will run his own interview with Donna.
Becky Wyatt / Becky Wyatt Online where she will showcase Donna Cutting’s book.
Today you can read more about Donna’s book at these other blogs:
Heidi Richards/founder of WECAI and WE Magazine for Women
Carol Deckert will be interviewing Donna LIVE at 7pm on her Ladies In Business Today
And tomorrow be sure to stop by these blogs to read more about Donna’s book:
Sandra De Freitas / Tech Coach for Coaches
Dawn Goldberg / Write Well Mewill be doing her own book review.
Pam Archer / I Do Weddings
You can purchase your own copy at Amazon