Writers are idea people. We take the glimmer of an idea and turn it into something fully formed like an article or a book or even a series of books. Of course, I’m aware of this. I devote entire articles and book/workbook chapters to the process of idea gathering. So imagine my surprise when I didn’t recognize my own book-worthy idea.
After my first book Writer Mama came out from Writer’s Digest Books in Spring of 2007, I started thinking about what book I wanted to pitch next. I thought I’d pitch my editor in person since I was scheduled to see Jane at the BEA/Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City.
After all this was how I’d landed my first deal: by pitching her in person at a writer’s conference.
In my own defense, I am pretty sure that I’d had the idea for my second book at some point, and quite likely there is still a little piece of paper or a notebook floating around somewhere in my office with the idea written down. However, the idea never made the short list I brought with me when I flew out from PDX.
Once in New York, I ran the ideas by my agent, Rita. She was especially excited about one of them, so I was encouraged in the short run, only to be doubly disappointed when my editor didn’t show a flicker of interest in a single idea when I ran them by her.
I felt deflated. I thought I’d pitched my three best ideas. Oh well, I reasoned, I could always try another publisher.
The next day, I went to the conference and gave a presentation titled, “Get Known Before the Book Deal.” Essentially, it was a how-to of all the platform-development work I’d done before my first book deal. I’d given the presentation before. It was a topic I’d broached in my first book but hadn’t had the opportunity to cover in detail, so I’d enjoyed continuing the work in my teaching and column writing after the book was completed.
After the workshop, I was chatting with my editor about the marketing efforts for Writer Mama. She encouraged me to go introduce myself to the members of the sales team. I met was Phil Sexton, who I had noticed popping in and out of my presentation that morning. After we discussed some sales ideas for my first book, I mentioned I was trying to figure out what my next book was going to be.
He said, “Why don’t you pitch the idea you just presented?”
The idea seemed so obvious, I can only hope my mouth didn’t hang open for too long. I ran the suggestion by Jane, who agreed it was a very good idea. When I returned home, I whipped up a proposal, and soon after, landed a book deal based on a track record I’d already unwittingly established.
Christina Katz is author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids. She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She works on incremental writing career development with one hundred students a year and is the publisher of the e-zine Writers on the Rise. To learn more, visit http://www.christinakatz.com.