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Do visions of royalty checks dance in your head?
Are you fairly certain that if you ever got around to doing it, the book you could write would be an international best seller?
Is it your firm belief that a movie should be made about your incredible life so far?
The first step toward writing a best seller is, curiously enough, writing. Not just words on a page, either. Maybe in the 1920s that was the place to start, but these days, a lot more is expected of you. Publishers are the limousines in which books arrive at the New York Times best seller list most often.
How do YOU write a book that goes on to do well? How do you write a book that sells and sells? That makes you rich and/or famous in your niche?
The first step is writing. If you plan to write fiction, you may know already that you must complete (and carefully edit!) the entire project before you can submit it to publishers. They want to see if your plot sags in the middle; they need to know if your tension gets unwound by the fourth chapter.
If you’re writing nonfiction, it is imperative that you DO NOT finish the book. A book idea is sold on a well-crafted document called a book proposal. (If you don’t know how to write a proposal, access our free resource here.)
A book proposal is the tool all literary agents use to sell any nonfiction book to a publisher. It is a sales document. More than about your content, it is how you showcase yourself as a perfect author, how you brag on your platform and how you explain clearly that not only is your book idea a good one, but that you have enough content to pull off 60,000-85,000 words.
I’ve been a speaker at literally countless writers conferences. You’d be amazed, perhaps, to learn that there are plenty of people attending these who are veterans of many such events who still don’t have their first book proposal done! It’s craziness to me to call yourself a writer if you fail to do the one thing a writer allegedly does: write.
There’s no law that says you can only write one proposal, wait to find an agent, hope the agent sells it and then wait until you get a contract. That’s silly. Write four proposals. Write ten. Try on every different configuration you can. The greatest “sin” of unpublished writers is not that they can’t or don’t write, it’s that they forget that everything can and should be edited.
If what you’ve written isn’t getting picked up by agents or publishers, do what you do best: write. Write a new proposal. Modify the one you’ve been tossing about. Write something totally different, or zany or playful, just to stir up your creative juices again.
If you believe yourself to be a writer, whether or not your book becomes a best seller, then by all means, at every opportunity – including ones you yank out of your schedule and proclaim sacrosanct – write!
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