It’s the dream of 81% of the population to write a book. No matter how many times people tell you how difficult it is to do, nearly everyone wants to do it. There hangs a certain romance around writers. I think it’s a kind of nostalgia or grieving for some forgotten part of ourselves. We long to return to a place where magic and imagination are revered.
Others may just want the quick glory or fast buck they associate with being an author. But whatever you want, getting a 6-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.
- Know the Industry
Educate yourself on how the publishing industry works. Unlike the old days when publishers were looking to cultivate long-term relationships with authors who would be in their stable, today their top priority is just to sell books.
When I was traveling in Mexico this year I met a woman whose husband has been a best-selling author for twenty years in England. He has had the same agent and publisher for those same twenty 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 Times bestseller 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.
- Prove There is a Market for Your Book
In today’s world, you need to show that your book will sell to one large audience or many smaller niche audiences. Quantify each audience with statistics that show that they buy 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 doubt with your well-researched facts that your readers are a book-buying audience.
- 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 scoop it up. A platform is simply YOUR ability to sell books to the audience that you have said will buy from you.
It’s all about the numbers. How many people are on your e-zine list? How many people do you speak to every month? 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 frequently seen in the media? If you don’t have an impressive platform you don’t get a 6-figure advance.
- Map out a Marketing Plan to Promote Your Book.
Your plan should include everything from speaking engagements, online marketing, licensing, and media placements. It must be realistic and doable. 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 hate most?
When you say that you’re right for Oprah. Unless you’ve already been a guest and taped the show please NEVER say this if you don’t want your reputation instantly sullied.
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, don’t 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.
- Get Endorsements
Big names sell products in a big way. Getting known names of celebrities, best-selling authors, actors, athletes, well-known experts in your field, media personalities, any famous name that has glitter gives you the kind of credibility that can’t be bought.
One of my clients, who got a number of New York Times best-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 winning author. The first one lauded him as a highly successful professional. The second stated that my client’s book filled a gap that her book failed to address. The third demonstrated that the people my client was trying to reach were an avid book-buying market hungry for his type of book- as they had bought hers.
These meaningful endorsements effectively helped him 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).
Don’t just get endorsements saying you’re terrific. 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 makes you stand out from the other 150,000 authors who are published every year, most of whom never earn back their advance. Don’t be one of them. Instead, follow this advice and you’ll be well on your way to earning a 6 figure book advance. Good luck!