Note: This is the first post in a series of 4 posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.
You have a book in your heart that you’d love to see published. It may even be a great book. A publisher and her editing board need to see three things to say the “yes” you’re hoping for. They need to see: a unique project, a viable market and the right author.
1. A Publisher Needs to See a Unique Project
Although what you’re writing may seem fresh to you, know that publishers have already received countless pitches for “My Cancer Journey,” “My Eating Disorder Journey,” “My Spiritual Memoir.” Does this mean you scrap your project? No. But it does mean that you need to demonstrate how yours is unique. For example, these might catch a publisher’s attention:
- Why Cancer Was The Best Thing To Happen to Me This Year
- How My Eating Disorder Was Cured When I Won “The Biggest Loser”
- I Was a Satanist High Priest and Now I Love Jesus
Make an editor curious enough to open your proposal!
One baby step toward publication: Read other books in your genre and identify what, if anything, makes yours unique.
2. A Publisher Needs to See a Viable Market
The publisher also needs to see that there is a market for this book. Who are the readers who will buy your book? What is the felt-need they have that will cause them to purchase your book, read it and rave about it to their friends? Research the market so that you can demonstrate that there are book-buying readers who need your book.
One baby step toward publication: Develop a one- or two-sentence “elevator pitch” that succinctly communicates the substance of your book, who will read it and what distinguishes it from similar books.
3. A Publisher Needs to See an Author Who Can Write and Promote This Book
A publisher is looking for authors who can write and who can also get that writing before an audience.
You’ve probably heard that author platform—your ability to reach readers—is the most important thing to a publisher. (And it’s pretty important.) But hear this: every publisher wants to publish great writing.
Chapters and pages and paragraphs and sentences and phrases need to engage readers. Your goal is to get a publisher (aka “reader”) to read the first sentence of your proposal and want to read the next one and the next one. You may think it’s an editor’s job to give your proposal a thorough reading, but it’s not. Her job is to find quality books to publish. When she is perusing your proposal, she can check out—and check facebook—at any point in the process. Develop your craft so that you can write prose that a reader does not want to put down.
And there’s also that platform business…
Who has platform? Oprah. Rick Warren. Francis Chan.
Intimidated? You don’t need to be. You can be building your platform right now by:
- pitching and writing articles for publications
- developing an audience for your blog
- building your speaking resume by speaking places for free: MOPs groups, churches, etc.
The key is finding what works for you and sticking with it.
One baby step toward becoming a great writer: Sign up for a local writing class, sometimes available at city colleges, or attend a writer’s conference in your area.
One baby step toward building platform: Set a goal to publish one article or story, with a reputable national publication that appeals to the eventual audience for your book, in the next three months.
Cheering you on,