I’ve written a book and been lucky enough to get it published. I have a client who has written 2 best-sellers here in Australia. Another one has written a small niche industry specific book with terrific success.
Getting a book deal is not the easiest thing in the world, but by following the below guidelines you’ll give yourself a better than average chance of success. The guidelines below are interchangable for approaching editors of magazines when trying to secure a regular column gig as well.
Why Write A Book?
The motivation for writing a book will impact on which publishers you approach and how you go about it. Let’s take a look at the 2 most common reasons people write a book:
- Profit – the most obvious motivation
- To establish credibility.
If you’re main motivation is profit, then it’s likely you’ll want to be published by a publisher with the biggest possible distribution model – rather than the guy who distributes to 3 stores in your local area.
And if it’s credibility you’re after, you may be looking at one of the major University publishers.
Whatever it is the following guidelines will be a good start. So let’s get started:
The Key Criteria For Attracting A Publisher And A Book Deal
This first one is pretty easy. Is there enough interest in the book to make it profitable?
If your book is about the life cycle of the Cinnabar Moth, then chances are there won’t be enough people interested in your book, even if it’s fantastically well written, to make it profitable for the publisher.
So run the numbers. If your book is going to be about Weight Loss, then there is a big enough market. A business book? Big enough market. A niche business book? Find out how big the market is and take a small % as the number who might actually buy your book – 1-2% would be a half decent guess. But do some digging on the market’s previous book buying habits and you’ll have a much better pitch with which to approach the publisher.
Why Should The Publisher Get You To Write The Book?
Which brings us to the 2nd point. If the subject of your proposed book is popular enough to warrant review, why should the publisher get you to write it and not someone else?
In my negotiations with my publishers for my book, one of the things that came up in the initial stages was that they were considering another author for the job. This guy was an established writer and had written for, from memory, The New York Times.
And as good and as well-trained as this guy would have been, I had a big advantage over him. I was writing from a position of authority because I had been there and done that in terms of everything that’s in the book.
This other guy couldn’t have written the book with that authority because it would be more like a “This apparently works…”, whereas my writing was more like “I did this and that and this is what happened.”
It’s about demonstrating what you bring to the subject – I bought real-life experience and expertise. And how that will make your book different. Because different is what it needs to be.
If your book is the same as every other book on the subject then there won’t be a compelling reason for the customer to buy yours. And the publisher doesn’t want that. You have to demonstrate to the publisher that you are the person that has the credentials, experience and expertise to write a compelling and different book that will be a success in the marketplace.
Approaching A Publisher For Book Deal
Firstly, find a publisher. This takes a little work, but is well worth it.
If you book is in a narrow niche, check out what other books are out there and take a look at who publishes them. You’ll often find that many publishers focus on a particular niche.
In fact, check out any book for the publisher details. That’s pretty easy.
A slightly easier way might be to take a look at the numerous publications devoted to finding a publisher, along with online sources.
What To Approach The Publisher With
When you approach the publisher you want to have what you’ll know they’ll want. And what they want is this:
A Book Synopsis – which is basically a breakdown of all the things mentioned above, plus an overview of your book. Just the condensed version a busy editor appreciates.
Free Book Synopsis
Here’s an example Book Synopsis we use – Book Synopsis. [PDF format]
Now approach the publisher via telephone, email or mail and briefly outline what your proposed book is about and offer to send through your synopsis. be professional, courteous and friendly.
Don’t Make It Any Harder
Securing a book deal doesn’t have to be any harder than that. I speak with many people who think business is hard and success is reliant upon knowing some great secret. It ain’t.
Like I always say to my marketing clients – it’s just about contacting someone and offering them what you have. The hard bit is writing the book once you secure the deal!
Hope that’s been of some help. Good luck!