“I Want to Write a Book”: Five First Steps For Aspiring Writers

When folks contact me because they want to write a book, especially someone who hasn’t been writing, I’m often pessimistic. I want to be able to encourage them, but I know this:  An agent or publisher needs to see that a communicator is reaching an audience. So what’s a first-time writer to do?

1. WRITE

Write an article. Online magazines usually have writer’s guidelines available at their sites. (Also google-able)

Pitch articles to magazines that are already reaching the audience who will read your book. If you don’t know what publications those are, ask among your friends on social media: “Moms, what blogs do you read?” “Business people, what magazines do you read?”

Your pitch to an editor—explaining what you want to write, how it will serve his/her audience, and why you’re the best person to write it—needs a hook. No editor will respond well to a pitch from you offering to write on “parenting,” but if they might be interested if your hook is, “What I Learned About Parenting During My Time in Prison.” Give your pitch a strong hook.

Having a number of articles that appear in print or online communicates to an agent or publisher that you’re reaching audiences.

2. SPEAK

Drum up speaking gigs. Ask folks you know to help you find venues where you can share the message you’re passionate about. Start by speaking for free to build your resume.

Speaking builds your audience and helps you hone your message.

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3. BUILD

Build a website. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Before you pitch one article or seek one speaking gig, build a simple site to let others know who you are and what you’re about. Include experience and endorsements to give editors, agents, organizers, and publishers confidence that you have something to say and that others want to hear it.

A website legitimizes your credibility as a communicator.

4. GROW

Grow your audience. Beyond building your website, be intentional about your online presence. If blogging feels manageable—and it might not!—consider blogging regularly. Guest post on other writers’ blogs. Post quotes or memes on social mediate that relate to your message. Don’t always be self-promoting, though: share relevant content, from other worthwhile sources, with your followers.

Providing valuable content builds your audience.

5. LEARN

Attend a writer’s conference. Even if you’ve never considered it, the chance to grow in your craft and network with other writers and folks in the publishing industry will serve you well.

 

Bottom line: If you’re not willing to start building with one or more of these building blocks, it’s unlikely that an agent or publisher will consider the book you’re holding in your heart.

The exception, of course, is if you are: the President of the United States, the MVP of the NBA, or someone whose face has graced the cover of People magazine. If you are any of these, disregard this post. The rest of us, though, need to be hustling to build an audience.

Your future agent or publisher will thank you.

Reflect: Which one of these 5 made you balk? How willing/unwilling are you to move forward on any of these? What can you learn from your response?

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Preparing for a Radio or Podcast Interview, Pt. 1

I’m not sure where you are on your writing journey, but if it hasn’t happened yet, hopefully it will one day soon. Your invitation to guest on a radio program.

First Hired by Anita BrooksWith the release of my book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job MarketI’ve done several interviews now, while working to line up numerous others. (If you want to listen in, I’ve got links to those who provided them.)

Imagine my surprise when the podcast host for Engaging Life and Leadership called. Podcasts are Internet radio shows, so they enable you to reach global listeners versus a regional audience. Think of it like this: Podcasts are the big-city landscape of audio, while most traditional radio programs have a home-town community feel. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each reaches different wants and needs.

Engaging Life and LeadershipSince my guest spot on Engaging Life and Leadership went over so well, I was asked to return — again and again. It didn’t take long until the unexpected happened.

“Will you join the show as a permanent co-host?” Darren Dake asked.

We’ve now recorded over twenty episodes as a male/female team, discussing relevant answers for Christian men AND women in 21st century leadership. At last count, we are reaching 17 countries.

But why did I just tell you all of this? For a few reasons actually.

  1. As authors, there’s constant pressure to build your platform. From the beginning, I’ve trusted God to design mine, and partnered with Him in the building. He continues to do more than I could possibly have imagined.
  2. My heart beats to help others, especially my writing brothers and sisters. Consider this an open invitation to be our guest on the show. Regardless of your book’s genre, there’s a place for you. All authors and speakers run their own businesses. You are thought-leaders. We can help you find a topic relevant to our program that will enable us to promote your project. Email me if you’re interested. anita@anitabrooks.com.
  3. The nail-biting prospect of guesting can terrify the most confident of men or women. So I want to share what has helped me survive small, nationally syndicated, and global radio programs.

Here’s my pre-show routine:

Radio Interview Mic

Have You Interviewed Yet? Prepare Yourself.

  • In Michael Hyatt‘s awemazing Get Published! program, he advises the creation of a briefing book as a guide during your interview. I created a PDF synopsis of my book, including the questions sent to the host in the media release. If you’d like a copy of mine as a sample, feel free to email me at anita@anitabrooks.com. (Half of the hosts never asked the arranged questions, but my briefing book kept me on track when they strayed.)
  • Double-check dates and times, (accurate time zones especially) to ensure I don’t experience a faux pas, and either scramble last minute or extend my nerves and frustration from a longer wait. My worst fear? Missing the opportunity altogether.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before. I’ve discovered half a Melatonin is a great way to enhance my natural sleep rhythm, providing deeper rest.
  • Walk or exercise prior to my interview, making sure I finish an hour before show time.
  • I take a shower about forty-five minutes before to freshen up.
  • Share my prayer need on social media. Friends and family appreciate the chance to support me in advance. (Plus it reminds some who want to listen in.)
  • About fifteen minutes before, I get prostrate in prayer. Literally. I lay on my living room floor, as flat as possible, and humble myself before God. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my words and still my tongue when appropriate. He hasn’t failed me yet.

There’s more I’d like to share, but I’ve run out of room. Next month, I’ll list the things I do during the interview to help me spread the message in a more effective way. Some are plain old common sense, but a couple will surprise you. See you then.

Have you interviewed? If so, what do you do to prepare?