Traditional Publishing

Apr 25


At first glance, we all might want to be published by a traditional publisher, preferably one with name recognition. It's sounds easier, cheaper, and surely more professional. The publisher assumes all publishing responsibilities, particularly footing the bill. And, oh yes, "they" will do your book's marketing too . . .

To pursue the traditional route, if you are the author of Non-Fiction you must pitch a highly persuasive book proposal, which I like to think of as 80% marketing plan. Yes, you will need to submit a sample chapter or two (but not an entire manuscript). However, the key to a successful book proposal is communicating an impressive "platform" — the significant national public visibility you have acquired, or are well on your way to acquiring. A publishing company is a business. If those considering your book proposal cannot hear the prospective cash register clinking, you won't be offered a contract.

It used to be that book publishers signed authors and got behind them to develop a platform. Now, the lion's share of an author's book proposal must include a convincing platform. An unknown or unproven author must arrive at the publisher's door (1) with a compelling sales handle and (2) appear to be a tireless self-promoter.

To learn how to cut to the quick both developing your platform and creating a book proposal that sells, most authors get help from a mentor or coach.

Pitching Fiction is similar, especially first fiction, however you don't need a formal book proposal. You still need to hand a prospective publisher a convincing argument for why your novel/short story collection is sure to sell. You might cite the popularity of the genre, the standing-room-only readings you are giving, the impressive testimonials you've already received, the review attention you are sure to attract, etc.

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