Do you have promotional credibility? When you present a publisher with your promotions plan, can you back it up with actual experiences? If not, you may be just blowing in the wind and wasting a publisher’s time.
Let’s say that you followed the advice of several publishing professionals and prepared a complete book proposal. Good for you! It’s clear to anyone reading your proposal that you have a handle on your target audience. You did a good job of showing that there is a need for your proposed book. Your synopsis and chapter outline are superbly written. And your promotional plan is impressive, indeed, except for one thing. It’s fake, counterfeit, phony, bogus.
Oh, everything you’ve written there is true: You do plan to organize a major, celebrity-studded conference next fall for at least a thousand attendees. But where’s the proof that you can actually pull it off? How will you convince a publisher that you can and will actually follow through with your promises?
Recently, one of my clients wrote exactly this in his book proposal. I said, “This is great stuff, but a publisher wants more. He wants details. Let’s tell him who your celebrity guests are, where the event will be held, the date of the event, etc.” My client stammered and then said, “Well, I don’t have those details, yet.”
I said, “Okay, let’s talk about some similar events you’ve organized in the past.”
He hesitated and then responded, “Uh, I haven’t actually done anything like this before.”
My suggestion to this author was, “Then set this book aside for now and concentrate on getting the sort of experience you need in order to establish promotional credibility.”
An alternative would be to set a date for the event, rent the hall, get a commitment from celebrities and collect reservations from at least half of the expected attendees.
A publisher needs something to hang his bank account on, folks. He wants to know that you can and will follow-through with your promotional promises. He wants proof.
Perhaps you can quell a publisher’s concerns by providing him with solid references related to your book’s subject. Maybe you work for a major manufacturer and you lecture throughout the world to consumer advocacy groups and others. This may interest a publisher in your book on things consumers need to know about the purchases they make in 2007 and beyond.
If you’re pitching a book on a new weight-loss or exercise plan, the fact that several high profile people read the manuscript, use your advice and have agreed to endorse it might be just the credibility check a publisher needs.
I know one first-time author who landed a publisher for her specialty cookbook because the buyer for a chain of major kitchen stores agreed to carry it.
If you don’t have an impressive support group to help promote your book or a track record to back up your promotional claims, STOP. Set your book aside for now and concentrate on establishing your promotional credibility. Seek out individuals with important contacts. Organize a conference or two. Do some workshops. Travel and lecture on your topic. In fact, you might even produce a booklet related to the topic of your pending book to sell during these events.
Yes, produce a 40-or 50-page booklet at home or with the help of a local business center. Offer 10 tips for buying and financing a car in today’s economic climate, 30 things you need to know about the new Medicare Prescription Plan, 100 of the most misunderstood words in the English language or produce a motivational guide to adopting a healthier lifestyle.
When you are truly ready to pitch your book idea to a traditional publisher, you’ll be able to tell the publisher that you organized a fitness conference in Los Angeles last June along with Suzanne Sommers, John Basedow and Jack LaLane and that there were 1,000 people in attendance. Don’t you know that he’s going to listen to what you have to say? When you tell him that you sold 500 copies of your test book at the event and an additional 1500 at lectures throughout the Western states, he’ll probably want to see your manuscript right away.
Hopefully, you can also tell him that you’ve created a mailing list of folks in attendance at these events. Of course, you’ll contact each name to announce your new book and to invite them to future events.
Authors, don’t be so eager to bring out your book that you spoil your chances of success. Establish promotional credibility before you start pitching your book and you’ll have a far greater chance of landing the publisher of your choice.
Think about it, if someone came to you asking for a loan to start a business that they knew nothing about, how generous would you be? On the other hand, if this person had tested the waters and brought you proof of his knowledge and abilities to succeed in this business, you would be more likely to consider his proposal, wouldn’t you?
There’s another reason to establish promotional credibility before pitching a publisher. While presenting your idea through workshops, for example, you might decide to change the focus of your book. Through the process of promotionówhile actually working with potential customersóyou may discover that your book isn’t appropriately targeted. You might find that people aren’t interested in another book on herb gardening, but are fascinated with the idea of using homegrown herbs to make aroma therapy products.
Your original idea for a book on budgeting tips for college students might be more well-received if it was a workbook with sections for each segment of the family – students, young marrieds, parents and seniors.
Through the process of establishing promotional credibility, you might change your book on fitness for the busy woman to revolve more around building one’s self-image through fitness.
Don’t rush into the world of publishing with an untested idea and a lack of promotional experience. Take the extra time and effort to build promotional credibility. This just might just be key to your publishing success.
Patricia Fry is a fulltime freelance writer and the author of 24 books. She just published her 8th writing/publishing related book: The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. (available January 1, 2006) See http://www.matilijapress.com or email PLFry620-at-yahoo.com for prepublication discount ordering information.
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