When my book came out in October of 2006, I had no idea what awaited. With my wonderful assistant, Katye Rone, at my side, we embarked on a multi-city book tour, beginning with a never-to-be-forgotten kick-off night at the Citicorp Barnes and Noble in New York City. Over 250 of our friends came out to join us and six of the 19 incredible women I feature in the book were on the front row to help celebrate. From NYC we were off to Washington D.C., then Raleigh, Dallas, Tulsa, and since then many other places I’ve loved to go.
Getting Started as an Author
I’m often asked what it’s like to be an author, or “How do I publish a book?” We could talk for hours about this, but let me offer a few quick tips……
I never really planned on being an author, it wasn’t a lifelong dream but as my speaking career grew, I kept getting advice from speaker’s bureaus and agents that having a book to go with my speaking content would be ideal. “So how do I even get started?” was the inevitable question. Book publishing presents more options today than ever before, everything from self-publishing to niche publishing to industry writing and periodicals, the outlets are limitless!
A first important step is to decide WHO you want to write for (in other words, who will want to read your book?), then determine WHAT you have to say that is unique and could fill a gap in the marketplace. Then, determine HOW you want to say it. You may find that blogging is more your style than writing an entire book. Or perhaps writing a few articles for magazines or other print mediums may be a good first step toward later writing your book. If you decide to pursue a more formal publishing deal then you will need to put together a book proposal. This is a specific format that publishers want to see and you can find lots of information online and in books that outline the format and process. Getting a book proposal pulled together is a wonderful exercise in answering the questions I mention above. It forces you to get organized about your message and how you will convey it.
A next important if not crucial step is to find a literary agent that can represent your proposal to potential publishers. If you do not know of agents in your book’s genre, then go to any bookstore and look in the categories that fit your book. Often in the Acknowledgments section of the book the author will thank their agent, this can provide you names. You can also call publishers (ask to speak with an “acquisitions editor”) you believe may want to consider your book and ask them to recommend agents they work with regularly. Keep in mind that top agents aren’t actively looking for a flood of new authors to represent. Use your relationship networks to get the attention of a potential agent and keep trying until you find one that believes in you, your “voice”, and your ideas. The best agents have strong relationships with many publishers and will most likely have an intuitive sense of which publisher may fit your book best. You can read more about working with agents on the web.
Once a publisher is interested in your book, your agent will help work through the processes of getting the publisher what they need for every stage of the approval process, and subsequently negotiating the deal.
After the deal is signed, your publisher will help walk you through the multiple steps of bringing your dream to the pages of reality, then marketing it and continuing to sell your book as far and wide as possible! Keep in mind that most agents and publishers are looking for someone with an existing “platform” so if you don’t already have a platform (meaning a career or vehicles for promoting and selling your book) then it may pay to spend time building a following before you pitch your book, thus you’re able to show that you speak to X number of people each year — people who follow your voice and would want to buy a book written by you.
There is so much more to say but I hope these tips and ideas will encourage you to GO FOR IT if you’ve ever thought of being an author. Believe me, you won’t feel qualified when you do it, but cast caution to the wind and just do it! What do you have to lose and just think about what you will discover and learn as you at least get the ball rolling on this dream.