In the Right Place at the Right Time by Bob Baker

I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had two books published by different publishers and never once had to write a book proposal or hunt down an agent for representation. In fact, each publisher approached me. Some people might say I’m lucky or was in the right place at the right time. Perhaps. But I believe these opportunities came because I actively pursued my area of expertise while finding alternate ways to weasel my way into the book business. Telling you how I did it will hopefully inspire you to do something similar.

In the early 1990s I published a local music magazine in my hometown of St. Louis, MO. Being a musician, music was (and is) a lifelong passion. Being a journalist, I also had aspirations to some day write a music business-related book. But, like many writers, I didn’t know how to go about it. Instead of tucking this dream away, I began taking baby steps in the general direction of my goal.

I started writing a column in my own magazine filled with marketing tips for aspiring songwriters and musicians. I offered this column to other local music papers around the country and started getting recognition as a music biz advice columnist. I also wrote a few 2,000-word special reports and started selling them for a few dollars each.

I still didn’t have a book of my own to promote but I felt compelled to offer music books to my readers. So I contacted some publishers (such as Writers Digest, which has a nice selection of music business titles) and made arrangements to sell their books through a primitive mail order catalog I put together. Selling other publishers’ books at a 40 percent discount wasn’t very profitable, but it did get me involved in the book business while reinforcing my identity as a music marketing resource.

Whenever I read about a new music title that might appeal to my audience, I contacted the publisher and set up wholesale arrangements. I once saw an ad for a book called “Releasing an Independent Record” by Gary Hustwit and wrote to the publisher. The following week I received a call from Gary himself. It turned out he was a self-published author who had started his own publishing company in San Diego, and he was having a good deal of success promoting his books.

We had a great conversation and agreed on the terms for me to carry some of his books. Before we hung up, he said something that would end up influencing the course of my life. “By the way, I’m looking to expand the line of books I offer,” he said. “If you know of anyone who has a good idea for a music title, let me know.”

I replied, “As a matter of fact, Gary, I have a couple of good book ideas myself.”

I sent him a special report I’d written called “19 Ways to Make Money in the Music Business” along with a short note explaining how I’d like to expand it into a book filled with several dozen moneymaking ideas. He liked it. Less than a year later, my first book, “101 Ways to Make Money in the Music Business” was born. (Note: That was eight years ago. The book is currently not in print.)

Fast forward to the year 2000. I had discontinued the local print magazine and was focusing on using the Internet to expand my notoriety as a music marketing expert. My free e-zine and web site at was growing in popularity. I also started a separate web site, called Quick Tips for Creative People, which offered similar advice to artists, writers and other people pursuing creative endeavors.

Over the years, I self-published a few books, including the “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Ignite Your Creative Passion.” But I longed to have an official trade paperback book again to add more clout to my self-publishing efforts. Little did I know that desire was about to be satisfied.

In my next column, I’ll tell you how my second book got published and give you a list of creative ways to put yourself in a position to be in the right place at the right time.

Bob Baker’s newest book is “Poor Richard’s Branding Yourself Online: How to Use the Internet to Become a Celebrity or Expert in Your Field.” Download two chapters free at . Bob is also the author of “Ignite Your Creative Passion” (available through at and other self-published titles. Visit for details.