Some entrepreneurs think that getting a book published or self-published will magically become the calling card that gets them more business. Others know that calling cards do you no good if they stay in your desk in one of those little white boxes. The same holds true for books, too. Being published will do you no good unless you leverage it the right way and twist every nickel out of the fact that you are a real author.
There are two primary ways to get a book to market: self-publish or pursue a traditional deal, where some legit publisher writes a check for the honor of releasing and distributing your work. Since there are more than 30 million books sold on Amazon, and more than a million self-published titles are released annually, it’s wise to accept that self-publishing can be completely foolish. (Exception: if you are the leading expert on some incredibly tiny niche, like raising Siberian hamsters or how to make your own glue.) For the rest of the business world, the only logical option is to get an established publisher interested.
Here is an outline for how to do just that, and how to best leverage the opportunity:
1. Come up with an idea that will get you to your goal.
That is, if you want to sell more goods or services, become a (better paid) speaker, get more consulting engagements, boost your career, identify yourself to potential employers, etc., then choose your topic and method of presenting it. Most books fall short because the authors don’t understand the steps between A and Z.
2. Do not write the whole book yet.
That will actually harm your chances of selling it to a publisher.
3. Do write a solid proposal.
Think about it like you were appealing to venture capitalists. You are ultimately trying to get a complete stranger to invest money in your idea.
4. Identify targent agents.
Google 30 literary agents (like myself) who have sold and are selling books like yours. That means people who make their living off the commission we get by selling books on sales, leadership, genomics, parenting, Thai cooking, bungee jumping or Siberian hamster raising. (Note: Not many of us will handle that last topic.) From there, query each agent simultaneously. (It’s important that your best book proposal be finished before querying, because the industry’s interests move fairly quickly.) Finally, select the best of the agents interested in your work and then let them do their job, offering your brilliant proposal to the editors at the publishing houses.
5. Write the manuscript.
Once the book is placed with a publisher, you usually have nine-to-12 months to write the manuscript (or hire a writer) and build your platform. I recommend you read The Ultimate Guide to Platform Building via Entrepreneur Press for advice. I know the author and I can vouch for the content.
6. Ready your release strategy.
At least six months before your book is released, enact the strategy to get the business result you want. There are specific, measurable, platform-related steps to take if you want to become a (well-paid) speaker or a consultant, others if you want to sell more of your goods or services and still others if you’re trying to gain celebrity status in your industry.
7. Get out and promote.
Leverage your book like crazy, especially in the 90 days after your publisher releases it. Ask your agent, your publisher and your published friends for their best tips. Continue to leverage your book for the next several years, allowing it to act as a marketing machine that open doors you can only dream about today.
Anyone can slap some words into a Word document and throw it up on Amazon for a few hundred bucks, but building a smart business tool using a book as a core strategy is a very precise process. My consulting clients are often shocked when I tell them that there’s a proven method for the results they seek, so pay attention to the steps above and you’ll come out far ahead. And if there’s one message you take away from this article, let it be this: A book is not a calling card unless you know how to use it as one for your specific goals. Plan your success for best results.
Wendy Keller is a literary agent with Keller Media Inc. in Los Angeles. She has 18 New York Times best-selling books to her credit and more than 1,700 sold contracts for authors and speakers worldwide, and has trained more than 25,000 authors via Www.BookProposalWorkshop.com). Visit www.KellerMedia.com for more information.