So in 2012 when I signed my contract to write my first book, I decided to write a post that would help my peers get a similar book deal. It’s become one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written, but something unexpected happened as a result. Every week I either get a comment or an email about this post from people that want to write a book. Often, it’s from someone that shares a heart-breaking life story that they want to share with the world, and they are asking me if I can help them.
First, you have to remember that publishers are a BUSINESS. They won’t publish your book or your story unless they believe they can make money off it. That’s reality, and in order to get a publisher to buy your book idea, you have to make the case to them that it will earn them more money than they will pay you for it.
Let’s assume that when you approach a publisher that they have no idea who you are (don’t worry, most publishers my agent contacted had no idea who I was when she pitched Think Like a Rock Star to them).
That means you need to convince a publisher that you have two things:
1 – A story/book idea that they believe they can make money on by publishing.
2 – The ability to effectively market your book idea and sell copies.
If you don’t have both of these things, then you have almost no chance of getting a book deal. I’m sorry, but that’s reality.
So you really need two things: A great idea for a book and a great platform for promoting your book. A publisher will want to know what you can do to help promote the book and sell copies.
Will you be speaking regularly to promote the book?
Do you have an online following? Are you active on social media?
Could your position at the company you work for potentially bring positive exposure to the book?
Do you have a huge marketing budget and can you spend a LOT of money to promote the book when it launches?
Let’s assume you said ‘NO!’ to all of these questions. So what do you do if you have an idea for a book, but you have no way to promote it or market it?
Here’s what I would suggests you do: Start a blog based on your book idea. Starting a blog is your chance to do two very important things:
1 – It helps you flesh out the idea for your book
2 – It gives you the chance to prove to publishers that other people would buy your book and that you can write it
If you can go to a publisher and show them that you’ve been writing a blog for the last 6-12 months based on your book idea, and that readers are regularly commenting on your posts and enjoy them, then you are proving to publishers that there is a market for your book.
So that’s my advice if you want to write a book. Instead, start with a blog, make it successful, and then show that to publishers with your idea. If the writing on your blog is generating engagement with your readers then it greatly increases your chances of getting published.