As promised, here’s another important insight from the Harvard Medical School CME publishing course.
I’ll share something Regina Brooks, from Serendipity Literary Agency shared with me. Over dinner at Stephanie’s on Newbury Street, Rusty Shelton, Regina and I discovered just how much we had in common when we all ordered the same thing on the menu (home made pasta with wild mushrooms, vegetables, crab and parmesan). Clearly, we all have good taste (at least in my opinion).
Regina said that editors at publishing houses are not taking chances on anything risky. They’re nervous that if they come to the editorial board meetings with something that sounds a little out-of-the-box, they’ll be the next one to be let go. They’d rather bring fewer projects to the table than risk bringing something that doesn’t look like a sure thing.
What does that mean for you if you’re looking for a traditional publisher?
1. Demonstrate that your book has much in common with related books that have done well in the past (though make sure your book adds something new to the field (new research, new information, a new angle, a different niche, special features–but nothing too wacky!).
2. Demonstrate a large market for your book. Do your research. Give numbers and sources of those statistics.
3. Make sure your writing shines. And no typos, please. Hire an editor if you need to.
4. Demonstrate you can market the book effectively by establishing a powerful author platform (e-mail list, website/blog traffic, speaking engagements, publicity, internet presence, etc.) and creating a kick-tush marketing/promotion plan. You may need to develop your author platform more.
Is this all bad news? No. I’m a firm believer that every challenge is an opportunity waiting for you to see it that way, embrace it, and make the lemonade. My own publishing experience with The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger is a great example of that!
The good news is that all the extra research, writing and platform development will, ultimately, help you reach a larger audience and sell more books. How great is that?