Hey Guys! Nicole Gabriel here!
One of my more popular episodes was one of my first…”Are You Holding Out For A Publisher?”
We’re going to go a bit more in depth on this today.
Here’s what it really comes down to…do you want to be an author or a writer of a book? Myself, I prefer to work with writers of a book. There are other coaches that will work with novel and fiction writers. As a book cover and layout designer I can do both and my system will get any book published. But, my strength is working with people that are already successful in their day job that are looking to add a book to their overall business plan.
Back in 2013 Forbes contributor Nick Morgan wrote an article. He began with “Here’s the problem with self-publishing: no one cares about your book. That’s it in a nutshell. There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. On average, they sell less than 250 copies each. Your book won’t stand out. Hilary Clinton’s will. Yours won’t.”
He goes on to talk about how you need a large platform. So, lets start here…
What is a Platform?
I see a platform as two-fold:
Ultimately, the author platform is an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach. First and foremost, a platform grows out of your body of work or from producing great work. You will likely already be showing up and visible in this environment prior to producing your book, or you can use your book to being showing up and start building your platform from there.
You also need to identify with your target audience by showing up where they are— doing events or speaking, writing a blog, newsletter, doing a podcast, creating videos and having available downloads on your website. You (your background and experience) matches the audience and your content connects. You have the appearance of being an expert in your field or subject matter.
You can’t build a platform overnight. You are building trust and content over time. Define your unique story or message, talents, strengths, best qualities, and talk to your target audience. It’s a lifelong journey to build a valuable platform. And, you can’t rely on a publisher or agent to do this for you. You have to find, nurture, and grow this on your own. You can extend your network with influencers.
This article is more fitting if being an author is your goal. But, this is a very different discussion when you decide to write with purpose or you already have a platform and a book is just an added tool to enhance your message in a new way. If you wanted to use the book to target a particular segment of your audience or to teach, coach, train, or speak it would just be added to your already established platform. In this case, you’d be an author of a book, but not a writer trying to sell books. See the difference?
So, let’s look at a few things that might be required from a publisher and why I say not to bother trying to find one.
First, it comes down to understanding that one of the primary things a publisher will ask you to do is to think about the business of your book. So, we are smart people, right? Why do we need to hire someone to tell us to do that? If we know what we need to do we can do it ourselves, right?
A publisher will require you to do some of the following: write a book proposal for submission; a competitive analysis for your title to showcase why yours is different or marketable; define a target audience you are speaking to; write a marketing plan; write an author bio that agrees with your subject matter—all things to present a water-tight business case for why they should publish your book.
So, before you even write your book, have you thought about this kind of positioning? Let’s get you started thinking about a few of these…
Writing a Proposal
If you were positioning your book for a publisher as a non-fiction author… rather than completing a manuscript, you would write a book proposal—like a business plan for your book. You see, a book proposal argues why your book (or idea) is a salable, marketable product. It acts as a business case or business plan for your book that persuades or convinces a publisher to contract and pay you to write the book. So, if you’re not going to try to find a publisher, take this initiative as a self-published author to identify the positioning prior to writing. Get clear and focused, and know your why, then write.
If properly developed and researched, a proposal can take weeks or longer to write and will be from 10-50 pages long. So, as a self-published author this will make you stop and think…am I clear why I’m writing a book in the first place?
The Importance of Your Business Case
For many nonfiction books, the creativity or talent of the writing doesn’t matter as much as the marketability of the book or the author.
Why would readers be willing to pay $20 or more for the benefit that your book provides? The writing is expected to be solid. Readers need a clear communicator who can deliver ideas and methods in a way that will help readers achieve their goals. So, this kind of thing gets knocked out of the way when an author can’t position the book well for a publishing house. If you aren’t able to do this you won’t even have a chance with them, so have you done any of this as a self-published author? If not, do it before you write! When writing a proposal you wouldn’t even talk about the contents of the book. You would focus on why the reader would care to buy or read your book in the first place. Some publishers call this “evidence of need.” They would ask: Why this book? Why does it matter? What need does it fulfill?
As a self-published author, you would do yourself some favors to focus on these questions and discuss the content in relation to the reader’s need or society’s needs. Think of this both before and as you are writing and you will get all the quality you would if you had taken the time to work with a publisher.
Competitive Title Analysis
Why is your book title different or needed? How does it compete? Grab 5-10 titles similar to yours and for each competitor, you can briefly summarize how your book stands out. This will help you get the most award-winning title. Now, of course, this title should align with your business plan as well. And if you are coaching, teaching, or speaking you want to make sure this title corresponds with all initiative on your platform. Make sure that your book is unique, but also doesn’t break all the rules.
Target market or target audience
Who will buy your book? Why will it sell? In as much detail as possible, discuss an identifiable market of readers who will be compelled to spend money on your information in book form.
Many book coaches and systems will have you asking: What can you specifically do to market and promote the book? But, I want to realign you to focusing on what you do outside the book. If you were trying to work with a publisher this might be a challenge. They want you selling books!
So, the massive gain for being a self-published author is the flexibility and benefit of writing a book you use to promote your business. It’s not about writing a book to sell a book! If you got taken in by a publisher you’re going to need to take time out of your work to sign and promote books for their gain. They don’t care if you’re tired or have a day job! In fact, they want to know how many things you are willing to do, how many solid connections you have—the ones that are already working for you—and how many readers you currently reach through current efforts.
If you need to show that your ideas have real action steps that will lead to concrete results and a connection to an existing readership…why not do this for yourself as a self-published author? You’re going to do all this work for someone else’s gain!
You will also go through a lot of work to write a book that suits a publisher, but not yourself or your business. And, if you niche down to a particular market that works for your business or clientele a commercial publisher would find it perhaps too risky to pursue….in other words, they know they won’t make money on you! They are also looking for a unique angle on hot salable topics. This may not fit your personal agenda.
As both a self-published author and an author positioning for a publisher, you will serve yourself best to show how your expertise and experience gives you the perfect platform from which to address your target audience. They want you selling books for $20 bucks…I want you selling services, using a book as a tool, for $2,000 bucks!
So let’s review:
Give yourself a water-tight business case! Know your book concept and range of material covered and how it relates within and outside of the book. Articulate a clearly defined market or need before you write.
Concentrate on the book’s hook and benefit and appeal to the marketplace and what sets the book apart, but don’t get lost in selling books. Sell the platform your book is a part of or use the book to enhance your platform.
Set yourself up as an expert with credentials and align with your topic.
And a final note: to increase your visibility in the market and grow a sizable platform to position yourself and showcase your expertise takes time. If your considering moving to a publisher, you need to be sure you are tracking wherever you show up…websites, blogs, social media, e-mail newsletters, podcasts, videos, speaking gigs, classes your teaching, professional organizations you are a part of, etc. And who are you connected with? Publishers want to know you’re connected to thought-leaders, influencers, and major organizations. And for god sake…if you just show up doing all this why do you need a publisher? Honestly, in today’s publishing world, you typically need to be visible to tens of thousands of people, with verifiable influence, to interest a major publisher. They need to know there’s an audience waiting to buy. So, I say, become a self-published author and control your income and your content. Write a book that provides massive value for the people you are already working with. Or, write to help take the repetition out of your daily sales mantras, position your coaching, organize teaching, or better educate your audience in a niche thing you do. Remember, you are selling your products and services, not books. A publisher will merely have you selling books.
OK guys, a long episode today, but I hope I’ve given you a bit more useable detail than I did in my earlier podcast on the publishing industry.
As always, wishing you peace, love, and light!
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