Recently I did a survey of the participants of one my teleclasses on how to start an internet radio show. I asked them if they were planning to write a book in the future. About 80% of the respondents said yes.
I’ve worked with people on their book proposals, and what I’ve found that aspiring authors are often not clear on what they’ll have do to get a book published. They may have an idea that’s based on their beliefs about book publishing, or what they’ve seen in movies or TV. As a writer I’ve been exposed to the publishing world for quite some time, and these are some important points I’ve learned along the way.
1. Get clear about why you want to write this book. How is this going to help your business? If you want to write it because you’re imagining some very large and lucrative book contract – stop right there. Those large juicy contracts are not as common as you may think. Save yourself a lot of frustration and determine what your real reason for writing this book is before you begin.
2. Do your research. If you want to go the traditional publisher route, then you’ll have to create a proposal and submit it to an agent (along with sample chapters). If you’re not familiar with book proposals do a search on Google and find out the format. A book proposal can be very daunting to write and it may make sense to hire someone with experience to assist you (or to prepare it). Don’t skimp on getting it done properly. If it’s not, your book may be rejected before you get beyond the proposal stage. In your research you’ll have to analyze the market, study your competition and create a plan for your own marketing and promotion.
3. Create your platform. If you haven’t heard this term before, it’s time to become familiar with it. Whether you self publish or get a contract with a traditional publisher, you will have to have a platform. What is a platform? It’s just like it sounds – a foundation of credibility that says you are an expert in what you’re writing about. Your platform should articles, blogs, other books you’ve published, videos, TV shows you’ve been on, credentials such as certifications and/or degrees – your accumulated experience and knowledge that says you’re qualified to write about this topic. At a writing conference I recently attended, every agent mentioned that a writer must have a platform. If you don’t have one, start building one now.
4. Be ready to invest. If you want your book to be a success then be ready to invest in, at the very least, editing, book cover design and a publicist. (If you self publish the publisher may offer those services.) I’ve spoken to writers who have dreams of publishing a book, yet they thought they could get a polished end result with very little investment. The truth is that you have to put time and money into your book if you want to have a professional product. If you aren’t prepared to do that, then perhaps publishing a book should wait until you can make that investment.
5. Be committed. A book produced by a traditional publisher may not come out until 12-18 months after the contract is signed. (If you self publish the time frame will be shorter from writing to publishing.) In addition, if you’re going the traditional route you’ll have to find an agent first. The major publishers usually do not accept submissions directly from authors. You’ll have to be committed to your book and ready to do what it takes to bring your dream to life.
There are many people with dreams of publishing a book, but many of them have no idea what’s involved in the process. Do your research up front; find out what is required and prepare yourself to get your work published.
Deborah A. Bailey is author of two non-fiction books including, “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life .” She's also the creator and host of Women Entrepreneurs Radio, a weekly internet talk show. Her fiction work includes a short story collection and a novel, available on Amazon.com.
For more information, visit http://www.BrightStreetBooks.com.