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I’m going to out and out brag here. July is shaping up to be an exciting month for my clients and we’re celebrating. Want to hear their secrets of success?
First, here’s the good news. In July alone:
– Three of my clients signed contracts and/or received offers from publishers for their books.
– Two other clients are in discussions with three major publishers each, including several in person meetings.
– Two others signed contracts with top agents.
So, what can we learn from these successful authors? What are they doing right in this market where people are saying it’s harder than ever to publish a book? Here’s what these seven authors have in common:
1. They’ve worked on their platforms. Some of them had powerful platforms to begin with, but many did not. They grew their platforms while writing their book proposals. They’ve done everything from subscribing to Help a Reporter Out (which is free) to PR Leads to starting a wordpress blog to tweeting.
Note that not all of them have huge mailing lists–some have gotten great pr (TV, radio, print, internet), some do a great deal of public speaking and some demonstrated the potential to take their public speaking to the next level–and that was enough because of the strength of other aspects of their proposal.
2. They clearly thought about their market. Several, including Dr. Terri Major Kincade, went to their potential audience directly and asked for feedback–what were readers looking for to solve their problem? What were the biggest challenges they faced? Which chapter titles worked for them? Which did not?
3. They performed a thorough comparison with other successful books on their subject. They focused on both what was similar to these bestsellers and what was different. They clearly demonstrated that their books had something unique to offer, something timely, catchy and compelling, and that their books also had much in common with bestsellers and very successful books.
4. They demonstrated why they are the ones to write their books, because of their expertise, their interesting stories and the unique gifts they alone have to offer…and, yes, back to platform–many of them have a following.
5. They opened their proposal in a compelling way. You have to grab agents’ and publishers’ attention in your first paragraph or they probably won’t even read further. Ideally, in the first paragraph, the reader gets the sense that you have a highly marketable book concept, a good size market, a significant platform. Sometimes, it also works to start with a compelling story that draws the reader in.
Of course, this is just a starting point. To write a truly solid book proposal, you need a proper road map. I recommend Michael Larsen’s How to Write a Book Proposal for its winning format and specific details, as well as sample proposals, and Terry Whalin’s Book Proposals That Sell, for helping you get into an editor’s (publisher’s) mind.
What are your concerns about your book proposal? Ask your questions here. Or share why your book proposal got you a publishing contract or agent. And good luck with publishing your book.