Want to Get Published? A Publisher Needs to See an Author Who Can Write and Promote

Note: This is the last post in a series of four posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.

3 things

Let’s say your proposal has convinced an editor that your project has a wildly unique premise. You’ve even demonstrated a viable audience with a felt need.

There’s just one more thing…

You.

The questions a publisher is asking about you, very possibly in this order:

  • Does she have a platform?
  • Can she write?

A publisher needs both.

And this is the difficult bind of many editors—who love great writing, and want to publish great writing—today. It’s not to say that editors don’t ever stick out their necks for someone nobody’s ever heard of who can write really well. They do sometimes.

I’m saying that a publisher’s decision is always a complex one, and the more you can convince them that you have a platform to influence others, the more consideration your proposal will receive.

If you can write compelling sentences that make people laugh and cry, and string those together into a fabulous manuscript, and if your platform is so big that Oprah, Donald Trump and Diane Sawyer want to be your bestie, congratulations.

If one or both of these is not the case, then…

  1. Improve Your Writing
  • Read great books
  • Write every single day, and then write some more
  • Join a manuscript critique group, locally or online
  • Attend a writer’s conference (See one you like from 2015? Google it!)
  1. Build Your Platform
  • Pitch articles to the publications your target reader is reading
  • Develop an audience for your blog by writing consistently and meeting readers’ needs
  • Pursue speaking opportunities—at church, MOPs groups, etc.—in the community
  • Be a great friend on social media by celebrating others’ work

And…be patient.

Very few writers have fairytale stories of wild success with little effort. (Honestly, that was my plan when I started writing. It didn’t work out that way.) Most writers invest time and energy to improve their writing and build an audience.

Cheering you on,

Margot

 

 

Want to Get Published? A Publisher Needs to See a Viable Audience

Note: This is the third post in a series of four posts: 3 Things a Publisher Must See.

3 things

Let’s say you do find yourself on an elevator face to face with an acquisitions editor from your dream publisher. She’s heard your pitch, is interested and asks you who will buy your book.

Do you know the very worst answer you can give her?

“Everyone.”

While you think it might be what she wants to hear, it isn’t. It really isn’t.

Jonathan Merritt, a savvy friend of Margot’s, explains, “If you aim to write a book for everyone, you’ll write a book for no one. But if you write a book for someone, then you’ve written a book for everyone.” Your book will be most effective if, as you write, you are imagining one person—Reading Rita or Literary Lou—and write to the heart and mind, questions and concerns, of that one person.

Know your audience. Editors want to see that you know who is reading your book and are writing to them. So you need to be able to describe your audience demographic: How old are they? Male or female? Education? Married Parents? Church attenders? Listen to Christian Radio? Etc.

Most often, people don’t buy books they think they should read. ($16 to learn that the best way to lose weight is exercising more and eating less? No thanks.) Books that sell are ones that meet a reader’s felt need. ($16 to learn that the best way to lose weight is by eating pizza every hour on the hour. LOL. Just kidding. But not really. #bestseller.)

In your proposal, you demonstrate that there is an audience for your book by letting a publisher know that it is meeting a real need for readers.

There are all kinds of creative ways to communicate readers’ felt needs to a publisher:

  • Description, “In the last month, five of my friends have had this problem…”
  • Statistics show that….
  • The top-selling books of 2015 were…
  • Etc.

In the writing, of course, your book must actually meet the readers’ felt needs. There needs to be a benefit to the reader who reads your book. (This is what makes readers rave to their friends about your book over coffee and on GoodReads!)

Here’s how: On every page, be asking, “What is the reader feeling? What is the reader thinking? How can I serve the reader with this story, page, chapter?”

To convince a publisher that there’s an audience for your book, you must communicate clearly that it offers value by meeting a need readers really have.

Exercise: Draft a character sketch of your book’s target reader, Reading Rita or Literary Lou. What keeps this reader up at night? What does this reader care about? What concerns does this reader have? Tape this list to your computer screen so that you remember to write every page with Rita or Lou in mind.

Cheering you on,

Margot