by Constance Santego
Turn your knowledge into words…
The first book I published was in 2007, it was a manual that my students had asked me to write. Many years after that I had owned an accredited college and had stopped teaching, I decided that I didn’t want the knowledge to be lost or wasted, so I turned the course material into non-fiction books. I did it mostly for myself, I wanted my knowledge in a book where I had easy access to it, and couldn’t lose it. I also wanted the information because I knew it was extremely beneficial and could help a holistic practitioner or someone who just wanted to help themselves or their loved one (I had fourteen years of proof teaching the subject matter).
When I started to receive royalty checks, I got a chuckle out of it. They were about thirty-five cents every four months. It was fun to say that I received royalty checks. As I write this today, my royalty checks are about one hundred dollars per month. I still smile, but I am proud of the increase because I only make about thirty-seven cents to a couple of dollars a book. Meaning I am selling over fifty copies a month. And who knows… maybe one day that will be a hundred dollars per day, or better yet one thousand dollars per day.
My point is that you are writing your manuscript and publishing it for some reason. If it is to make money, great, but you might have to be patient unless you find an agent.
No matter what reason you are writing and about to publish your idea, here is what you will need to know.
Non-fiction means the information you write is factual and not a made-up story. At the very least, the authors genuinely believe or claim them to be truthful at the time of their composition, as in a history or science book.
Some small publishing firms still take submissions without an agent. BUT if you are praying to get in with the ‘Big 5, the Holy Grail of publishing praises and prestige:’ Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, or Simon and Schuster, you will need more than a great agent, you will need to have impressive writing skills, fit their commercial mold of genre fiction, have a compelling hook, a marketable idea, and a SUBSTANTIAL AUTHOR PLATFORM.
Hey, others have done it, so can you.
Agents can find you a smaller publishing house!
NOTE: some agents ask for a query letter first. Then, if they like your idea and think it is sellable they will ask for the proposal… FOLLOW THEIR RULES. Don’t tick them off.
WHEN you are asked to send in a proposal for submission, here is what you will need:
* To spend up to three to four months to make your proposal the best it can be.
MAKE sure you edit it!
* An introduction to you (contact page information) and your work (one to two pages)… the first paragraph about your work should be a hook, something to catch their attention!
Imagine an agent is like an employer looking to hire an employee. They see and read up to thousands of resumes/submissions. You have to stand out and catch their attention for them to want to read more. An agent is taking a gamble on you. Remember, they only get paid if you get paid. Same with a publishing house, they only get paid if your book sells. And it will take a minimum of three thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars to publicize you. They need to believe they can get their investment back. PLUS make a good profit! And just like a job…if you don’t get hired… maybe that employer/agent doesn’t need you but another one will.
Many famous authors have been turned down by an agent. Stephen King, J. K. Rowling,
Dr. Seuss, Agatha Christie, Herman Melville (Moby-Dick), Ernest Hemingway,
George Orwell, and H.G. Wells to name a few. Chicken Soup for the Soul had 144 rejections.
And if all else fails… many, many authors self-publish and get discovered later; Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss, Bruce Lipton, Esther and Abraham Hicks .
* Genre (if it has illustrations or recipes, you should put a couple of samples).
* Table of Content
* Sample Chapter (This can be from ANY chapter – your BEST EDITED piece of writing)
Note: you DO NOT have to have the completed manuscript, you just need to know what you are going to be writing about.
DO NOT send all the chapters, even if you have the whole book completed!!! Unless they ask you for it.
* If you are going to have someone (ghostwriter) help you write the book, tell that to the agent. Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t write well, Hay House CEO, Reid Tracy says that only 20% of authors can. You can hire editors who will help you edit for spelling and grammar, and you can also hire editors who will help you create the book.
* Then, you are going to give a detailed breakdown of each chapter (this is what you are promising to deliver). A detailed outline of the book, chapter by chapter. A book proposal is the business plan of your book.
* Now here is where it gets fun… Marketing…
Comparative Analysis – three top selling books in your category/genre. Pick books that everyone has heard of! The agent wants to know what category/genre your book goes in.
Potential Market: Whose is going to buy your books? This is the audience for my book____
My Platform: Probably the most read section by an agent after your introduction! Are you able to help them sell your book? How many people do you have in your following; Email List, Newsletter, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. This is where you are going to put your energy! Grow your fan club!!! An agent wants to see 10,000 plus fans on your platform. 50,000 is what they really are looking for!
Hey, if you self-publish you are going to need it anyway (Make sure all your platforms have a link to your website!). If an agent is interested in you, they are going to Google (research) you. Put your name in, see what comes up.
* If you have links to short videos (under five minutes) that present your work, put that information in. It also gives them an opportunity to get to know your personality (hey, if they take you on as a partner, they want to know who they are getting.).
* Marketing Plan – If you have friends or acquaintances that have ‘big platforms’ and have agreed to help you, put that in here. Tell them how you are going to help to sell your book!!! Tell them if you are going to do; TV, radio, a ten-city speaking tour, book stores, churches, or clubs/organizations and speak there (BUT, only if you can prove that you will be), Maybe you have a pre-order for 500 to 1000 books from a company.
* NEVER put into your proposal anything or everything the agent can do for you!
Tell about if you have a blog, that you do Webinars, If you are best friends with someone famous, and they will help to endorse your book, then put them in there.
If they are asking for an email submission, send it by email (not mail). Whatever way they ask for your submission, send it to them there way. If you do not follow their guidelines, they will not read your proposal.