Keller Media Blog

email

 

Dear Literary Agent,

I have finished my very first novel.  It is a science fiction story that I think is very unique and could attract a lot of attention from agents and editors. I want to make sure it is in the best shape possible, though, before I start pitching.  Do I need to hire an editor?

Sincerely,

Maybe in Need of an Editor

 

Dear Maybe in Need of an Editor,

Congratulations on finishing your first novel!  How exciting!  That is a great feeling and you should take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back.

First of all, I hope if you say you are “finished” that you mean you have gone through several rounds of revisions on the book yourself.  Editing is a large part of the craft, and you need to make sure that you are 100% comfortable with what you have written before you give it to someone else to read (or pay them to do so).  Have you had anyone read your book so far?  I don’t just mean family members of friends – members of your writing group, for example, or a trusted, impartial contact.  What has the feedback been like from them?

If the feedback has been positive, I think you are probably in a good position to start pitching your book as-is.  If people have had issues with any part of your book, you may want to consider hiring an editor.
There are different kinds of editors, however, and it is important that you understand the difference.  A copy editor proofreads your book – they catch an typos, misspellings, or poor grammar usage.  They may give occasional advice on a turn of phrase or two, but their work generally focuses on the physical words on the page.  A developmental editor focuses on the content – they are the people who can help you flesh out a character, strengthen a plot, or help clarify a thesis.

If you tell us that a professional editor has reviewed your manuscript, agents and publishers will not necessarily view your book any more highly than they would another author’s.  We are already assuming we have your best submission possible – why would you send it to us anyway?

Our advice is that you take as many free editing opportunities as possible.  If you have exhausted those options, and still feel that there is something lacking in your manuscript, you can consider hiring an editor – once you have pinpointed where the issues are.

The very best of luck to you with your book!

Sincerely,

 

Megan Close Zavala and the Team at Keller Media

 

Want to submit a question to be answered here?  Email your question to help@kellermedia.com.

 

questionBy Alex Schnitzler, Editorial Director

A client was ready to write his second nonfiction book.  He self-published his first, but he had bigger dreams and signed with our agency to prepare a proposal package to send to publishing houses.  The proposal draft he sent our agency lacked clear focus, but he had the beginnings of a strong platform, so we signed him.  I wanted more of an edge to his overview.  I wanted to read something distinctive that provoked thought and curiosity and uniquely asserted the force of his beliefs.  None of that existed in his draft.

When you have a strong concept, but your content is thin, you need to rethink your material before Hollywood (or New York) comes knocking.

What’s your book about?  What makes it unique?

I suggested to our client that he approach his content development with several questions in mind.

Email to Client:  The revision you sent me still needs a lot of thought, depth and consideration. Speed is not the issue, at this point.  Quality is.  If your ideas were original, then this might be easier to construct. Your content, however, is not remarkably striking.  You’re covering territory that many writers have addressed, written about, spoken about, published about, and televised.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t attempt to write this book.   You can accomplish amazing originality in your structure and delivery.  So, you must find a way to approach your content development from a unique perspective.  You can begin by asking yourself some hard questions.  Most important:  What’s your book about?  Who cares about your topic?  Why are you the person to write it?

Who’s going to read it?  And why?

Defining your audience in your pitch is crucial.  I’ve read countless proposals where the author fails to indicate any audience or sadly writes:

This book is for everybody.

What does that mean exactly?  You mean all three hundred million people in the United States?  Are you planning to target, Europe, Latin America, Asia… the world?   Who are you writing for specifically?

In a nonfiction book proposal pitch, this is a serious issue.  Many hopeful writers ignore its importance.  Perhaps it stems from a naïve belief that everyone will want to read the book, or that the writer hopes everyone will read it, but it’s just not the case, and it’s not a prudent approach.

Here’s why.

  • Books rarely target a macro audience. Content, in general, even on the web, is increasingly targeting niche markets.

Here’s another reason why.

  • Defining your readership will help you focus your topic.

Often, authors have a great topic (as in the example above) but little clarity on how to shape and deliver their content.  Even though defining your audience may feel restrictive, it’s actually quite liberating.  Once you have a focus, you can move more confidently into the construction of your material.

Most important: Don’t define your audience in your head.

Write                 it                   down.

Find statistics, facts, trends.  Get your ear on the ground.  Use your imagination.

Agents, editors and publishers want to know your demographic target, not simply from a marketing perspective (although this is also important), but from an editorial position.  If you demonstrate audience savvy, then you will develop your content, tone, pitch, and style accordingly. Even better if you can prove people are already paying attention to your content – hiring you to speak, buying your audio or ebook product, following you on your blog or even Facebook.

Why are you the person to write it?

Demonstrating authority on your topic will win you readers.  In your pitch, your overview, or any other venue where you sell your idea, you must illustrate your command of the content.  But, more essential, you must ask yourself: why?  Why are you the person to deliver this material?

Consider this possibility: Many people find reading uncomfortable.

Every reading event begins as an agreement, an unspoken contract between writer and reader.  Your content unfolds, slowly, leading the audience on a process of discovery.  The nature of this agreement places the writer in control and the reader in a position of weakness.

Readers don’t know you.  If that is the case, they might not trust you.  They’re approaching your material for the first time.  They need assurance.

If you fail to immediately take charge of your content, demonstrate authority, concentrate on voice, your readers grow insecure—either they’re stupid, or you’re incredibly inept.  Since your audience rarely chooses door number one, your idea ends up in the trash.

So, illustrate your authority with invention.

  • Take Charge of your Content
  • Combine Biography with Intent
  • Use Relevant Anecdotes

And… most important

  • Demonstrate Humility

These questions provide the foundation for any content development.  Without much effort, you can sit down and shape your idea by sketching out a few answers.  Whether you’re looking to write a book, develop a blog, or build your platform, your efforts will cement your approach and effectively build bridges to your future fan base.

By Megan Close Zavala, Literary Agent

This is a continuation in a series of columns about mistakes that even the greatest writers make.  If you’d like to check out that the earlier posts, please click here:

What Good Writers Do Badly, Part I

What Good Writers Do Badly, Part II

What Good Writers Do Badly, Part III

voice#10: They Hide Their Voice

You will never be Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, Anthony Doerr, Maya Angelou, Stephen King or Patricia Highsmith (and neither will I, unfortunately!).  Their gifts are and were unique and all their own.  You will, however, be YOU.  And that can be an even better thing.  You’re not just telling a story, you are illustrating your mastery of the craft.  It is not just the information that you are presenting, it is HOW you are presenting it.  If you have been writing for long enough, even if you are influenced by other authors (who isn’t?), you will have likely developed a style all your own.  Don’t be afraid to show it!  Also, please make sure that your voice shines through your query letter as well.  Don’t drown us in metaphors and flowery prose, but a basic form letter will not entice us to request your manuscript from you.

 

#11: They Lose the Momentum

It doesn’t matter what type of book you are writing – fiction or nonfiction – when it comes to keeping a reader’s attention.  Most people don’t even read past the third chapter in a book.  You want to make sure that you are keeping them reading until that very last page.  You may ask yourself why – they have purchased your book, after all.  What other purpose can they serve?  They can recommend it to their friends and family (who will then, in turn buy their own copies), and they can become interested in what else you have to offer.  They will buy your next books (or your previous ones), they will want to attend your lectures, buy your products, etc.

So how do you keep them interested?  Do not try to do too many things at once.  Creating a new world and interesting characters is intoxicating, and it can be tempting to do as much as you possibly can in the pages that you are given.  However, things can get very muddled.

For instance, if you have a zillion characters, it will be hard for a reader to form at attachment to any one in particular, which in turn will lessen their desire to follow them on whatever journey they might be on.  If you are trying to do a romance-suspense-fantasy-self help-biblical tale, that might be too much for a reader to wrap their head around.

Aside from the confusion, the most common thing that happens is the writing just peters out toward the end.  Frankly, the author seems exhausted from having to try and twist out every single different character, plot choice, or chunk of information they can come up with.  Stick with your areas of strength and nurture them through the end of your book.

 

#12: They Forget to Show Instead of Tell

This is another common occurrence.  You may have a clear image of your content in your mind, but that does not mean that your readers do as well.  You need to paint that picture for them.  You need to make them see what you see, so they can experience your story as you are intending them to.   You don’t need to describe everything (sometimes a leaf can just be a leaf), but you need to make your world come alive for whomever you are sharing it with.

Also, you want to make sure that your characters are dynamic.  If they can act instead of react, let them.  Show us that they are angry, don’t tell us that they are.  Let us discover that they are brave or psychotic or shy.  If you are writing a self-help book, use success stories to illustrate how your methods work.  If you are writing a book on the battle at Gettysburg, don’t just tell your readers that there were 51,000 casualties; help them see and feel the scale of the loss.

pennyBy Wendy Keller, Senior Literary Agent

 

If you’ve been thinking about becoming an author because you know how much it will catapult you, your business and your profits into the big time, you need to know which option will give you the best results.

Deciding to write and market a book is likely the best marketing decision you’ll ever make. It will bring you opportunities for leverage, prestige, advertising, co-branding, customer attraction, visibility, market distinction and more.

But stepping onto the path to publication places you at a fork in the road. Should you self-publish, create an ebook, or seek out a traditional publisher?  What are reasonable expectations from each option?

In the old days, self-publishing was considered the loser’s choice – the only one for people whose ideas had no chance in the “real” publishing industry.  That’s not true anymore. Self-publishing means you pay someone to produce your book. Because you’re a customer to them, there is usually no or poor editorial development.  It may be produced in e-book format; created POD (print-on-demand, which means that no actual copies are printed until they are ordered); or the traditional method where you get cases of books to distribute. You keep the profits, minus production and marketing costs. There are over 1 million new books created every year in the USA, the majority self-published. To distinguish your book from this tsunami of words, you will need to market the heck out of it, just to rise above the din.

A self-published book is reasonably fast to produce. If you do it right, it can look as real as a traditionally published book (although usually, people skimp on the cover design to their detriment).  You can have your book in your hands in about four months.  If you work hard on the marketing at least three months before and six months after it releases, it may be successful.  Because my company designs and implements a lot of marketing plans for self-publishing authors, I know that a self-published book usually won’t get reviewed in the papers or get you any real media, but it makes a fantastic business card to impress your clients and can be leveraged (with effort) into a lucrative lead generator for your business.

The fastest option is creating an ebook. Write it, edit it, design it, edit it, edit again, .pdf it, and post it. You could have it up in 48 hours! You keep all the profits. Market the heck out of it and voila!  You’ll likely make some sales, perhaps generate some ongoing passive income and learn a lot about Google Adwords and SEO.  This method is best if you’re great at copywriting and you want to become an infopreneur.  There are plenty of people who claim to be making a fortune doing exactly this.  It will not have been vetted by any third party, but that may suit your purposes just fine.

If you choose to go after a traditional publishing deal, where an established publisher pays for the honor of printing and distributing your book, then you will need to get yourself a literary agent.  The agent is the person who acts as the broker between you and the publishers.  It’s almost impossible to sell a book to a publisher without an agent.  The process of getting an agent begins with looking up a list online of agents who handle the kind of book you’re writing, or getting a recent edition of my friend Jeff Herman’s book “The Insider’s Guide to Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents.”  Collect a list of at least 50.

Next, write a “query” letter to the agents.  This is where you succinctly entice us to believe your book will be profitable. Most agents accept queries by email or have a form on their website to facilitate your approach.  (www.KellerMedia.com/query)  Send it to all of us simultaneously.  Some agents will ask for the proposal, the document you created to show off how marketable and valuable your book will be. The majority will decline.  (That doesn’t mean much unless everyone says no).  One or more might offer you a contract, especially if you are known already in your field or have a large social or other media following.

Once you have an agent representing you, that person will shepherd the process, editing your proposal, showing it to the appropriate publishers and negotiating a deal for you with the best one.  When the book comes out about a year later, you will earn about 10% of the book’s cover price, but their name on your content means you are “worthy” in the minds of the media and some consumers. Your profit comes when you implement a marketing plan that will force the book to grow your business.

These three options should be weighed carefully.  Each one creates its own type of following, revenues and customer perception.  The core principle is this:  a book builds your business, can catapult your career, anchors your brand identity and will be the single greatest marketing decision you’ve ever made if you do it right.

color brainBy Wendy Keller, Senior Literary Agent

There were about 160 people crowded into the room, some forced to stand, all waiting for my presentation to begin.  I felt flattered. It was Day Three of the writer’s conference and this was my third and final presentation at this event.

Suddenly, an idea struck me.  I decided to change my opening as I walked toward the platform.  I smiled at the crowd. I asked “Please stand up if you are attending your very first writer’s conference.”  About 40 people stood. I led the audience in wild applause for these brave folks.  So many people just talk about writing a book “someday” and never do anything about it.  They never attend a writer’s conference, never attempt to learn the craft or the business.  First timers deserve a round of applause, and frankly, so do you.  Congratulations on reading this article. It will help you understand how to train your mind to overcome the inevitable barriers, speed bumps and obstacles on the path to publication.

Back to the conference.  The applause died down and these brave souls settled into their chairs. I said, “Now, if you’ve attended two or more, stand up.”  The rest of the room stood.

“Remain standing if you’ve attended three or more.”  Some sat.

“Remain standing if you’ve attended four or more.”  Many sat.

“Remain standing if you have attended five or more writers’ conferences.”  About 25 people were left.  You could see them looking around, smiling broadly.  They were certain I was going to walk right up to each of them and hand them contracts from Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins.

Instead I asked, “Remain standing if in all this time, attending five or more conferences, you have completed a fiction book manuscript or a nonfiction book proposal, and shown it to any agents or editors.”

Every single person sat down!

I was as shocked as they were.  I wanted to yell, “How can you put all this energy into learning and no energy into doing?”  Wishing won’t make you a published author.  Writing, writing, writing and never submitting won’t make you a published author.  Only completing your project, submitting, learning from rejections (if they come) and trying again will make you a published author.

Are you somewhere in that cycle?  Wherever you are, I believe this book will help you.  After the conference, I became fascinated with the reluctance to finish, the hesitation to submit, the discouragement of rejections from the writer’s perspective.  The research I’ve done and observations I made have resulted in this book.  My sincere goal is to help muster the inner fortitude it’s going to take to go from a great idea all the way to Barnes & Noble.

You may well ask, “What does an agent know about rejections?”  After all, we’re the Evil Gatekeepers who prevent brilliant ideas like yours from even being seen by publishers, right?  I myself reject at least 95% of everything I’m offered, which is about the same percentage as most agents who don’t charge reading fees. I mean, c’mon. We’re the enemy, right?

I guess the difference is this: I’m an author, too.  At this moment, I have 28 published books to my credit, under six pseudonyms.  I write as a hobby, because I enjoy it.  I have no desire to do it full time. I’m not your competition; I’m a cheerleader for writers. I’ve been an agent since 1989, and sold hundreds of book rights all over the world.  I like selling other people’s work.  In fact,  the three most exciting moments of a book’s life while I’m in charge of it are:

1) When editors start saying yes, they want to see it.

2) When I get to call the author and say, “Guess what?  Your book is sold!”

3) (My most favorite) when the check clears.

Before I was an author, I was an award-winning journalist. I love to represent journalists, because we’ve been trained specifically in skills useful for every writer. I believe the journalist’s mindset will serve you well if you want to become an author.  The most important part is this: we’ve been trained to be unattached to the material.  That lack of emotional attachment is probably the single biggest skill I’d like you to learn.    If it were as easy as telling you that you should unattach from your material in all aspects, you could stop reading right here.  But for most writers, learning how to unattach, and what attachment looks like, is a slow process. Failure to do so is how they create their own stagnation as writers.

Let me explain what I mean by detachment and then we’ll get into specifics a little further on in the book.  When I was about 17 years old and a college freshman, I was an intern at the local newspaper.  I had graduated from high school a little early, and I felt I had to work extra hard to prove myself to my peers who were mostly older than me. The newspaper had me “cub” under a salty reporter from New York, Joel Millman, who had landed in this podunk town in Arizona for no reason ever apparent to me.  I thought he was a journalism god. Joel had me writing obituaries (boring!) and doing the weekly “man-on-the-street” interviews (stagnation personified).  That took about as much talent as it takes to color inside the lines.  I was chomping at the bit, so Joel finally let me have a story assignment. I was thrilled!

I selected and interviewed the people.  I took meticulous notes, trying to capture every word they said verbatim.  Then I began assembling my article the way my journalism professor had taught us.  I worked on that article, not counting interviews, for probably upwards of nine hours.  I wrote, rewrote, edited and rewrote.  I barely slept for two days.  It was my entire focus, my quick path to the precious Pulitzer.

Finally, I was ready to turn it in to Joel.  I crouched over his esteemed shoulder as he read it onscreen.  He shooed me away.  I crept back.  I watched him scroll down.  He finished reading my fabulous article.  It didn’t take long, since my entire allowance was just 500 words!

In his gruff New York accent, he yelled out “Keller!”  I was right behind him, and I said yes so enthusiastically I made him jump.  That was my last happy moment before I became a real writer.

He asked how long it had taken me and I told him.  He said, “This is…”  He began to highlight and scroll down the screen. “This, and this…” he scrolled. The suspense built. “This, this and this…”  I held my breath.  I was about to bask in his well-deserved praise.  I was so excited.  He kept highlighting.

“This is all %$#!.” He deleted the whole article!  The whole thing!  Not one measly word blinked on the monitor.  Nothing. Zero. Zilch.

He stood up. “It’s crap. You wrote this from your perspective, not the reader’s.  No one gives a %^$# about this (#@$. Do it over.”

He stood up and walked away.  Me, my notes, my pride, we all sat together in a crumbled heap.  It was over.  I had been deleted.

But I was not defeated.

After a few minutes, I felt rage – at myself, him, the unfair world. I re-wrote furiously. This time, I wrote it solely, overly, too much from the perspective of the citizens who would read the stupid thing later.  I was blistering with fury. I jabbed at the keyboard. I rewrote it in record time, spinning through my notes, papers whirling.  When I finished, Joel came to look.

He read the whole thing. I chewed hard on my lower lip.

He said one word, “Better.”

It got printed the next day!  I was a real journalist!

So what does that story have to do with you?  The two most important things you can learn as a writer are hidden in this anecdote from my early career:

  • No one cares what you want to write. They care about what they want to read.
  • If the people who control its publication say it’s not good, fix it. Period. No whining.

Remember those two things and you’ve got it made.

Let’s get started on working on your beliefs, attitudes, goals, dreams, aspirations and obstacles to becoming a successful published writer.  Because frankly, you don’t want to write just one book, do you?  No. Let’s be honest. You want to have publishers fighting over the rights to your second and third best-sellers.

The Gumption of Getting Started…or getting started again

So let’s begin.  How do you get through the “I want to write” stage to “I’m writing”?  How do you resume working on a manuscript that’s lost its steam?  What if your precious masterpiece has been rejected indiscriminately by a bunch of unconscious morons who don’t see its brilliance? (I’m an agent. Thus I claim the right to make fun of my colleagues and myself, and also to express the words I’ve heard from writers who didn’t know what I do for a living before they spoke.)

Motivating yourself takes two things: faith and guts, generally called “gumption” in certain parts of the country.  First, there’s the faith that what you are writing is worth your while – whatever that means to you – and then that you have the guts to see it through to its conclusion.

Some people tell me they write because they “have a burning story to tell.” Or they “don’t know how not to write” or the story just “percolates up inside them.”  The characters wake them up while they sleep. Others write by more logical choice, because it will spread their message, tell their story of heroism, inspire others, grow their business or speaking career, etc.  I even know a few people who are writing exclusively to pursue the dream of getting on Oprah.

Whatever your purpose, I think you need to be honest about it.  There are plenty of old folks out there who are writing to tell their life story to their kin before they die. They are writing from a position of legacy and if it gets published or if, like my first husband’s late grandmother did, they self-publish, the point is their life is recorded for posterity.

There are people who are writing for the express purpose of making the best seller list, starting a career as a full time writer, making money, whatever. I have written several pseudonymous books because I wanted to take a specific trip to Europe or remodel a certain room in my house. Whatever your reason, I strongly suggest you consider it carefully, write it down and use that goal as a motivator for the inevitable rough times ahead.

They will come.

Isolating your goal is Step One in how you overcome them.  Let’s isolate your ideal outcome as a writer right here and now.  On paper.  Please get a notebook, a scrap of paper, a paper napkin or a used tissue.  Doesn’t matter at all. The result does.

Take a few moments to visualize what success as a writer looks like for you. Be honest with yourself.  No one else is looking over your shoulder.  If you dream about being a best seller, why?  Do you want the TV appearances?  The money?  The screenplay optioned?  What is your actual, real, basic goal? What do you think you will gain by doing this work, perfecting your craft and achieving your goal?

Ponder this for a moment.

What about being on Oprah do you want?  Is it meeting her?  Proving to your mother she was wrong about you?  Your fifth grade English teacher who gave you that F?  Your lying’ cheatin’ ex spouse that you are worthy? It’s always a personal thing to write a book, because a book is like having open-heart surgery – you are bare for all to see.

Now that you’ve scribbled something down, distill it.  Break it into smaller pieces.  How much money do you think you’d make?  What opportunities do you think that would give you?  What would it say about you as a person – to yourself and those you wish to impress?

Example:

I want to see my book in the bookstore.

That’s a fine reason to write.  But why do you want to see it in the bookstore? Which bookstore?

I want to feel proud of my book when I see it at Barnes & Noble.

What about it makes you proud?  If all you want is to see it in the store, you can self-publish, sneak in, put a copy on the shelf and stare at it for a few hours.

I want my friends and family to see my book at Barnes & Noble.

Who cares what they think? Why do you care? Let’s get down to the truth.

I want to prove to my older sister Judy, the PhD, that I am as smart as she is after all.

Now we’re getting somewhere.  Now we’re closer to a real reason.  You want to get published to prove something to someone else.  This is a remarkably common reason to seek publication in my experience.  It also opens the playing field rather dramatically. If proving you’re as smart as Judy is your goal, then there are about 200 little “tricks” you can use to determine what to write that will show Judy once and for all that you’re smart enough to work the inside track of publishing.  In fact, if that’s your goal and it is your primary goal – and if you are flexible (like I had to be when Joel deleted my whole first article) – then I can almost guarantee you a book sale within 12 months if you have even a modicum of talent.

How’s that for a promise? But, instead of your great American novel, you may need to write “The Bartender’s Guide To Creative, Colorful Cocktails” even though you’ve been in AA for twenty years. But heck, Judy will see your name on that book at her local Barnes and Noble and voila!  You’ve accomplished your goal.  (Hey, that’s a pretty good idea.  Anyone want to send me a proposal on it?)

Restate your goal until you know from the bottom of your heart you’ve gotten to the bottom of your real reason to write.

Got it? Good. Now, using your favorite method, write it down several more times.  Make it your marquee screensaver.  Use felt and cut out little letters and paste them on cardboard.  Get crayons and write in on construction paper.  WordArt it in Microsoft and print it in four colors.  Paste it everywhere you will be in a day. Everywhere. On the inside lid of your toilet if you must.

Here’s why:  If you know WHY you want to write, the how will come much easier. I promise you that.

Secret Trick of Published Writers: Know Your Goal

Knowing why you really want to write is half the recipe for Gumption.  Not to be confused with Gumbo. The other half, of course, is guts.  You need the guts to overcome all the hurdles ahead. I promise you only this: their name will be Legion.

The Why you wrote down (and you did do it, didn’t you?  If you aren’t going to follow directions, stop reading this article and give it to someone who actually does want to get published.  I’m not making this stuff up and how many other people giving you advice have been responsible for the success of hundreds and hundreds of other writers?  Exactly. Not many.) OK.  The Why you wrote down and pasted all over your world is meant to give you the faith internally, but you’re also going to need to develop a thick skin externally – the outer shell. You can keep your soft, gentle artsy writer’s heart inside, your attachment to your work, your love for language, blah, blah, blah.  All that stuff.  But externally, you’re going to have to toughen up a little bit.

That’s guts. And that’s the next chapter.

By Wendy Keller, Senior Literary Agent

 

marketHow would your business grow if journalists were calling to interview you?  What difference would it make to your stature in your industry if you were to become the third-party verified expert?  How many more qualified customers would you attract if you gave the world a sneak peek into the depths of what you know so well?

 

The most expedient way to achieve all the above and even more customer-attracting benefits is to write a book.  There are many publishing models to leverage, and writing skills aren’t even necessary. (We got people for that!)  Becoming an author may be the most impactful, valuable, income-generating single marketing step you will ever take in the life of your business or career.

 

A client whose book I sold a few years back reported that his business profited an additional $800,000 the year after it released. Another client, a financial advisor to the ultra-wealthy, told me 9 months after his book released that his “business has tripled – I don’t have time to sleep anymore.”  (He wasn’t complaining!)  What could the almost-free publicity and prestige a book generates do for you?

 

Your specialized knowledge – what you know that few others do – is valuable.  Don’t believe it?  Then you’re probably suffering from “expert blindness”, a term coined by marketing genius George Silverman (www.mnav.com) Expert blindness is what happens to someone like you who knows everything there is to know on a subject…except what it is like to know absolutely nothing about it at all.

 

The first step is to decide what your book will be about.  While your life story may be fascinating to you and your mother, book buyers only pay $20 for something that will give them a solution to a problem they have. The solution you should offer in your book is the same one your business provides.  From preparing taxes to lawn care tips, from consulting business owners to hiring the best attorney (you!), there’s a strong chance that you know something the world doesn’t – and is willing to pay for.  Even if there’s some similar content available online, gathering it all in a book gives you the “expert stamp of approval” and grants your perspective validity in the minds of the public.

 

Now go to Amazon.com and type in the keywords that relate to your topic.  “Sales, selling, salesperson, sell”, for instance.  See what else is out there.  If what you want to write is almost identical to one of those books, you might end up choosing to self-publish unless you can alter your content to create something new, different, better or which offers the consumer something more than those books.

 

Decide if you have the time, inclination or ability to write well. This one decision trips up most people, but like everything else in your business, it’s better to delegate your non-key strengths to competent people. Here’s a secret: most of the business books you see on the shelves were written by someone other than the person listed as the author.

 

The first thing that needs to be written is called a “book proposal”.  Never write a whole book until you’ve got a publisher’s check in your bank account already.  A proposal is the tool you will use to attract a literary agent.  Then, the agent will take that nonfiction proposal and use it to entice a publisher. In the US, it is almost impossible to sell a book without an agent. Once you get an agent, you will trot down the well-worn path to success pretty fast.

 

You will have about a six month window to capitalize on your book. Done right, it will bring you unimaginable opportunities for publicity, marketing, advertising, co-venturing, and helping your company and your career grow.  A book is as a fabulously impressive business card and can help grab market domination or just astronomically increase your revenues. Compared to other marketing strategies, “writing” a book may be the best investment of your time and knowledge that you’ve ever made.

If you want to get your book published by a real publisher, you may be making a crucial error that will cost you your dream. Every single aspect of how books are bought and published in the US has changed in the last 36 months.  Few would-be authors have access to the information they must know to succeed. Until now.

brainBy Wendy Keller, Literary Agent

The statistics are scary. More than 1 million new books were cataloged last year. The explosion of ebooks and the closure of the Borders chain skewed the numbers that publishers have relied on for 75+ years when making decisions about which books to publish.

Massive industry-wide layoffs and the closure of many literary agencies have dried up opportunities for new authors like never before.  Books that would have received a six figure advance just a few years ago are now lucky to get $25,000. Books that might have gotten $25,000 are lucky to be published at all.

Agents are forced to screen potential new projects much more carefully because publishers screen potential new projects much more carefully.

FIND THE LOOPHOLE, GET THE DEAL

The publishing industry has chickened out.  Even while I am disappointed by my industry’s new methods, I also realize their absolute economic necessity.  Now, publishers insist on the “sure bet”.  With every editor capable of losing his or her job over the next flop, they want to be certain your book is going to be a profit center for their publishing house.

There’s just one way to assure them your book is worthy: “Platform”.  A platform is a large, growing group of fans who are following you, trusting you, buying from you, and who consider you a thought leader in your subject area.

These days, the first question every editor asks every agent when we pitch them on a new book is, “What’s the author’s platform?”

Lucky for you, there’s a loophole.

WHAT IT TAKES TO SNARE A PUBLISHER

The loophole may well surprise you.  Smart would-be authors overcome their initial resistance to the need to build a platform before the book is published or even CAN be published, so your next question is, “OK, how do I build a platform fast?”

The loophole is: size doesn’t matter.  Growth does.  That’s right.  While of course it’s  fabulous if you have 200,000 fans, that’s hard to achieve in a reasonable amount of time.  But if you have, say, 5,000 this month (a very doable number) and you have 5,500 next month (10% growth) then you’re going to get attention.   The growth percentage is appealing because…

PUBLISHERS WANT TO HITCH THEIR WAGON TO A RISING STAR,

NOT BE THE HORSE THAT PULLS YOUR CART

If you do the right things, the ones that will prove you’ve got a winner, publishers will be all over you! And if there’s even a whiff that publishers will like what you’re doing, agents will clamber for the chance to represent you, especially now.

Turns out, somewhere along the path of my life as an award-winning journalist, PR Newswire employee, selling scripts in Hollywood and now over twenty years as a literary agent, I’ve learned how to quickly get to the bottom of “What’s sexy?” What angle in your book is most likely to get the public to pay attention and buy? How do authors like you attract that attention, leveraging the time, talent and other resources at your disposal now?

I can answer those questions.  For fun, I’m the author of 31 published books under 9 pseudonyms.  I’ve been featured in all kinds of media including Dateline NBC, Hannity & Colmes, Politically Incorrect, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Glamour UK, Playboy, Dr Phil, and hundreds more. I know how to get you media attention before and after your book is published – and I can teach you.

Given my unusually well-suited background, I may be the most qualified person in the publishing industry who can advise would-be authors like you on exactly what to do and how to get the platform you need, so you can get a publishing contract.

I invite you to invest in a consultation with me. I will dedicate an hour of my time.  We will focus on precisely determining what has kept you from success so far and how to fix it. You will discover how to make your specific project attractive to a great agent (maybe me) and then a great publisher, so you come a successful published author.

RESULTS SEEN QUICKLY

Let me explain something: I won’t let you waste your time.  And I never waste my time.  Not on stubborn unpublished writers; not on projects that have no future; and not on people who are unwilling to carefully consider expert advice. (I’d make a crummy therapist.  I expect results too fast.)

The way it works is you sign up for an hour with me now.  You’ll be offered a selection of appointment times.  You can send in written questions for me to review if you wish and I’ll review your proposal (again) too.

Most people who consult with me say it was “a huge turning point” or “a mind-opening experience”.  Some of them are published now, others will be.  When we, you’ll see things the way a publishing insider views them – a whole new perspective.

People are always stunned that the hour flew by so fast.

You will emerge with a crystal clear game plan for What To Do Next to get your book on track for publication – customized to your specific content, your goals and who you really are as a person.

There are an estimated 1,782 proposals sloshing around the industry at any given time for every one that gets a deal.  Are you The One?  Do you want to leap over the competition, attract an agent, get a publisher and finally become a real author? Then take the first step. Click the button below to get your game-changing hour with me.  It’s even guaranteed or your money back!  That’s how sure I am that we can transform your publishing journey in just sixty fast minutes.  Give your book a fighting chance – get an expert on your side today.

Rent Wendy’s Brain