Thursday, March 6, 2008

Chapter 1: No Platform? Then start thinking like a publisher

Authors tend to think that publishers are simply looking for great writing on an interesting subject. But if we’re to sell our ideas to publishers, we must learn to think like a publisher.

Here’s how the acquisitions editor, who currently has your query letter and proposal sitting in a huge pile next to his desk, may be thinking:

"I love great writing, but my children are hungry. Convince me that your book will sell and make us a profit."

Sure, they love great books. But more than that, they love great books that sell. To publishers, strong platforms mean strong potential sales.

So you’re an acquisitions editor with 10 manuscripts on your desk, all of them about personal finance. Why risk publishing the unknown financial writer when they could take the guy who teaches successful financial seminars from coast to coast? So when you’re sending a proposal, do more than point out your unique angle and convince them that you can write; convince them that you can sell the book.

And by the way…start working on solutions now! Don’t wait until you’re trying to pitch it to publishers. If you’re on the first chapter of your first book, set up a file on your computer or in hard copy and label it “Marketing and Platform.” As you get ideas, put them there and calendar when to implement them. Much of what I say is much easier to do when you’re still researching your book.

So the first, and I think most important point, is to begin thinking like a publisher. Following are some things I’ve done as a result.