When I first got the idea of writing a book that would help people transform their old habits around anger, and find creative ways to understand and deal with their anger effectively, I had absolutely no credentials in the field nor any writing credentials to speak of.
How, then, did my first book get published by Health Communications, who published the Chicken
Soup for the Soul Series and many bestsellers? I teamed up with experts who had the credentials. I had some good ideas and was able to attract the attention of Peaco Todd, a published author and cartoonist (okay, it helped that she was my friend), and we then sent a letter with a great cartoon (by Peaco, of course) to the experts we thought of as potential collaborators, including Jane Middelton-Moz. She liked our ideas and it worked.
Collaboration is just one way to get a foot in the door. Here are 3 more:
1. Interview the Experts: Start locally, regionally or on-line and work your way up to national articles. Interview experts on the subject, until you become one yourself. If you can interview a national expert from the get-go you might even start at the top and write an article on spec for a national publication or high traffic website. If you’ve never written for magazines, you might want to hire an expert to advise you and help you with your queries and editing.
2. Turn Minuses into Pluses: If you’re writing in a field of PhD policy wonks, turn your outsider status into a badge of humor: think up a funny title for yourself that captures your status in a make-fun-of-yourself kind of way: Perhaps you’re the Underground Economist.
3. Make a Video and Make it Sticky: I can’t even remember how many people sent me links to that Zeitgeist video on youtube. There was just something about the drama and power of it. I even found it on Organic Consumer’s Association’s website. You can’t just throw up a video and hope it sticks–be strategic, find out what makes a good video, and have a plan for getting the word out.
Readers, please share what you’ve done to make yourself an expert, or share your questions as comments!
Stephen Monrad says
Thanks for speaking to me directly in your blog by mentioning “Underground Economist” That’s exactly what I am trying to be.
I am working hard to establish my credibility. I have put together a static website with a brief outline of my ideas (if about 9,000 words can be called brief). I started a blog a little over a month ago and am now trying to do short posts each weekday.
I’m looking into making videos too. I decided that the way to succeed on this one was to be daring. I’m not a great artist, but I have decided to do simple black and white animations in Flash for my videos. I am working on my first one now and am aiming for something in the 2 to 3 minute range. Since I can’t do slick, I’m aiming for quirky. I will let you know how it turns out.
The foundation of my strategy is that mainstream economics really doesn’t make all that much sense. If I can communicate clear concrete ideas that people can get their minds around, I think I can establish myself as an expert.
I love your plan for the videos. That is just the kind of thing that can get people’s interest and keep their attention. It sounds like a great way to gain credibility without having to go back to school for a decade! And also, often the most powerful answers come from people like you–“outsiders” who are not part of a broken system.