Getting your book published by a traditional book publisher is often seen as the ultimate in credibility and the best door-opener that money can buy. However, less than 5% of all book proposals are commissioned by traditional publishing houses. This article explains how you can increase the odds of your book proposal getting read and commissioned.
How to get your book published
Many, many business book authors have found that their book is the best door-opener that money can buy. It conveys authority, credibility in a way that no presentation, award or brochure can. However, it is not a get-rich-quick-scheme. If you want a quality book with your name on it, published or self-published, be prepared for exceptionally hard graft, before you even write the first word.
Tap into traditionally published author networks for introductions
I am lucky enough to have been traditionally published three times. I have never run a marathon or swam the channel, however, the experience of writing a book seems to me very similar. As a result I have tapped into a very supportive author network, who are all willing to make the introductions into their publisher if I want it. In fact, I’m happy to also introduce would-be authors to my publishers. One of the best ways to get your book published the traditional route is via traditionally published authors and their connections into publishing houses.
I have never run a marathon or swam the channel, however, the experience of writing a book seems to me very similar.
Remember that a great idea for a book is not enough
Before you start looking for my email address to ask for the introduction. There is a catch.
Let me explain…
Every publisher get inundated with would-be business book authors having a great idea for a book and looking to get their book published. In fact, my commissioning editor will not answer her mobile phone unless she recognises the number. It’s not enough to have a great idea for a book. And, it’s definitely not enough to have a book in you which you feel the world needs to see. (or even just your target market.)
My commissioning editor will not answer her mobile phone unless she recognises the number
Your potential publisher needs to be convinced that your book will make them money. Yes, it comes down to pounds, shillings and pence again. (or should that be pounds, dollars and euros?) A publisher is a business, just like you or I.
Your potential publisher needs to be convinced that your book will make them money.
This is what traditional publishers want…
This means that before they will even consider looking at your proposal, you need to convince them that:
- you are 200% committed to making this book a success
- you will be prepared to sell your granny for the sake of just a few more books (I’m exaggerating a little here, but you get the picture)
- you are already viewed as an authority in your field and have a decent author platform (i.e. you can flog at least 1500 books by your own means without using the publishers limited marketing resources)
- there is an angle to your subject which hasn’t yet been explored in the current available literature.
Most publishers are not too bothered at the commissioning stage whether you can write to any decent standard?
So, how do most publishers separate the truly committed authors from the ‘I’d really love a book to my name authors’?
A book proposal or pitch isn’t something you can dash off overnight
Firstly, they make you write a pitch, i.e. a book proposal. This isn’t something you can dash off overnight. (A mistake one of my network made to his cost.) This is something which you will need to:
- research all the currently available literature on the subject you intend to write
- visit a book store and have a hunt around amazon to see which shelf or category your book sits within or on
- build a marketing plan which you are committed to delivering
- write pretty much the copy for the book jacket and introduction (that’s what your commissioning editor will use for the book jacket blurb)
- allocate 30 hours+ to write a document which is typically over 5000 words and 10+ pages in length
- write out a detailed chapter and contents plan for your book
- possibly take professional advice to help you write and structure it
Phew, is this sounding like hard work? That’s because it is, and there are no short cuts here. It also sorts out the men from the boys. If you can’t get a decent proposal written, then what chance do you have of actually writing 60, 000 words and then marketing your book? No publisher is going to knock on your door with a ready-made publishing deal. They have to see the proposal and sign this off at their publishing board meeting.
If you are prepared to spend the time to write a decent book proposal, then I will willingly introduce you to my publishers. It’s as simple as that…