We are at the end of week #1 for Write Nonfiction in November. Is your nonfiction project unfolding easily and effortlessly? Are you learning new and useful information by reading this blog? I hope so.
Today we combine a bit of information about platform building with some great tips on writing the all-important platform, markets and promotion sections of a proposals. Media coach and marketing specialist Susan Harrow, the author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul, has spent the last 17 years running Harrow Communications, a media coaching and marketing firm in Northern California. From this host of experience, Susan offers us advice on how to land that coveted book deal with more than just a $1,000 advance. (Yes. Sorry to say, often these days $1,000-5,000 seems to be the common offer from small -- and even some medium-sized publishing houses, which is why agents won't represent writers to anything but the large houses.) She stresses some things we've already talked about but offers great advice and tips. And don't forget that tips #2-6 all relate to information that goes into your proposal. (Go back and reread Mike Larsen's post, and apply what Susan has written about.)
How to Get A 6-Figure Book Advance
By Susan Harrow
Media Coach & Marketing Strategist
Eighty-one percent of the population wants to write a book. THe writer's life seems so glamorous and romantic and dreamy, filled with imagination and magic. And it can be.
For other people, writing is a job. They may see it as a quick path to the how-to or literary lottery and instant fame. And it can be.
Whatever you want, romance, fame, connection, storytelling, the good life, or just the satisfaction of saying, "I wrote a book," getting a six-figure book advance is possible -- if you have the skill, drive and know-how. Here are five tips to get you started on achieving the dream of becoming a well-paid, respected author.
1. Understand the Publishing Industry
The publishing industry has a specific set of rules. They like it when you follow protocol. They also like to receive book proposals in a standard format that you must know. Most publishers' top priority is to sell books. Lots of them. And mostly it's you who is going to do the selling. I remember one of my first clients tell me, "Think of your publisher as a distributor." I've never forgotten that. It's still wise advice.
When I was traveling in Mexico a few years ago, I met a woman whose husband has been a best-selling author for 20 years in England. He has had the same agent and publisher for those 20 years. Every time he came out with a new book, his publishers expected it to be "number one" on the English equivalent of the New York Timesbestseller list. They worked with him to make it so. In America the bottom line is king. You must be able to substantiate your claim that your book will fly off the shelves without any help from the publisher.
2. Prove There is a Market for Your Book
You need to show that your book will sell to one large audience, or many smaller niche audiences that add up to a large market. Publishers are looking for you to substantiate your claims with statistics that prove your audience buys books on that subject. It's not enough to say that this audience would be interested in your topic. You must be able to prove beyond a doubt with your well-researched facts that your readers are a "book buying" audience. For example, I interviewed a best-selling ghostwriter for Get a 6-Figure Book Advance, who specializes in health and had coauthored a book on breast cancer. Women with breast cancer buy books. But when she was approached to write a book on lung cancer, she discovered that people with lung cancer dont' buy books, so she didn't take on the project. Do your research before you write your book proposal so you know you're writing a book that has a built-in audience.
3. Develop a Platform
This is the most important aspect of your proposal after you've proven that there is a pressing need for your book and that book buying audiences will snap it up. A platform is a fancy way of saying YOUR ability to sell books to the audience that you have said will buy from you.
A platform is all about numbers, prestige and popularity. You'll want to state the number of people on your e-zine list, the amount of traffic to your blog, and how many times a week you podcast and how many people listen or download it.Site the articles you've written. List your speaking engagements. How many people buy your products and services now? Do you have big name corporations or organizations that will buy your books in bulk? Do you have a regular column or write for publications? Are you a regular media guest?
If you don't have an impressive platform, you don't get a 6-figure advance. But you can always start now and build your momentum. Sometimes with a blog your platform can be created virtually overnight.
4. Map Out a Marketing Plan to Promote Your Book
Your plan should include a wide range of mediums--everything from speaking engagements, online marketing, licensing, and media placements. The key is it must be realistic and do-able. In other words, you can't say that you'll speak to organizations of 1000 people or more if you've never done it.
What do publishers hat most? When you say that you're right for Oprah. Unless you've already been a guest the show has taped and aired, please NEVER say this if you don't want your reputation instantly dirtied.
Instead, show how you will build on your past publicity. If hosts or producers say that they want you back for another segment because you did such a good job the first time, say it. But if you haven't done much media to date, dont' fret.
You can begin today and get a substantial number of profiles , features, and comments in the media in a few months by joining PRLeads, a service that delivers reporters queries (the stories they need experts for) daily to your email box. I've had clients quoted in the New York Times within a week. You can be one of them.
5. Get Endorsements
Big names sell products. Getting well-known names of celebrities, best-selling authors, actors, athletes, respected experts in your field, media personalities, any famous name that has a shine give you the kind of credibility that can't be bought.
One of my clients, who got a number of New York Timesbest-selling authors to write about him, accomplished three things with his endorsements. Each person who wrote about him told a different story about why he would be a a winning author. The first one championed him as a talented and successful professional. The second one noted that my client's book filled a gap that her book had failed to address. The third one demonstrated that the people my client was trying to reach were an avid book buying market longing desperately for his type of book. She added that since they bought hers, they woudl want his as well. Nice.
These meaningful endorsements made it easier for him to get his 6-figure advance. (And he got media coached by me before he met the editors at the big New York publishing houses, who then bid on his book at auction--which upped the price substantially.)
Don't just get endorsements saying you're great. Make your endorsements do double duty by helping you prove there is a market and that you're the one they want to buy from. This is the type of information that gets you noticed from the other 150,000 authors who are published every year. Follow this advice, and you'll be well on your way to earning a 6 figure book advance. Good luck! And keep me posted.
About Susan Harrow
Susan Harrow specializes in presentations and media coaching and creating marketing strategies for Fortune 500 CEOs, Internet millionaires, world renowned speakers, successful entrepreneurs and best-selling authors. She has also worked with award-winning documentary film producers, leaders in banning racism, maverick publishers and people in unusual occupations. Dozens of Susann Harrow's clients have earned 6-figurebook advances and have appeared on Oprah, GMA, 20/20, Larry King Live, E!, CNN, MSN, and in TIME, USA Today, Parade, People, O, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Inc.
Get Susan's free tips here: http://prsecrets.com/store/sixfigurebookproposal.html
Listen to a free teleseminar here: http://ww.prsecrets.com/free-audio-signup-6f.html
Join Susan's ezine here: http://ww.prsecrets.com
Order Susan's book, Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul (HarperCollins), here: http://www.presecretstore.com/sywssbook.html
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