Become a Sure Thing, or “Tap Dance Backward in Heels”

We wrote a book together and now you want to publish it, right? Dear client, since I ghostwrote your book, I can assure you the memoir is of top, publishable quality and readers are laughing and crying in all the right places, so why aren’t publishers beating down your door? Because … you’re not a sure thing. At least, not yet.

A sure thing is a good investment

A publisher’s job is to plug writers into their publishing/marketing machines, invest X amount of money, and then triple it on the return. Luckily, you, the writer, make some money in the process, too. So basically, publishers are not much more than bankers making an investment in writers. Ergo, if they don’t want to publish you, then they don’t see you as a good investment or “a sure thing.”

If you’re a new writer without a name for yourself, welcome to being a woman. That is to say, to get a publisher’s attention, you have to do exactly what the established writers do but, like Ginger Rogers, “ten times better, backwards, in high heels.” In other words,  if you want to get published, you have to PROVE you’ll be a good investment.

How to tap dance backward in heels, online

Typically, in this day and age, you prove you’re a sure thing by getting your own online following. You’ll need Twitter and Facebook followers and a long list of subscribers to your blog. That’s right: you need to present the publisher with a thousands-long list of people that already follow your online musings and are therefor highly likely to buy your book.

Wait! “If I have a long list of people already willing to buy my book, and the ability to self-publish, what do I need Random House for after all?” you ask. Excellent question, but that’s a blog for another day. Focus, people, focus.

Assuming you’re willing to provide your publisher with a lengthy list of subscribers just to prove you’re worthy, how do you get those subscribers? Is this a magical trick performed by techies and nerds who optimize your search engine whatsit and promote your data whosit? No, it really isn’t. It’s a matter of real humans building real human relationships. (Here’s an example of one success)

What is a “follower” or “subscriber” anyway?

People who have been tricked by the internet into subscribing and following you, or only did it out of impulse and then forgot about you, are not real followers, and having them on your list of “followers” won’t help you sell books.

Real followers are actual people who can’t wait to read your next blog because you’re so freakin’ brilliant. They’re people who are interested in your subject matter, sense of humor, or philosophy. They are flesh-and-blood, they have computers, they have internet access, presumably they have wallets, presumably with money inside, and they buy books that interest them. You find them by being awesome, online … so awesome, in fact, that people pay attention to you, follow you, and make you into “a sure thing.” (For instance, if you like this comedian, as I do, you’ll probably follow her and maybe one day you’ll buy a book about her. Who knows?)

Deep Blogging

There is a way to prove your awesomeness online, in a real way, and I call it deep blogging, but this blog is getting really long, so I’ll describe how to do it in my next blog. For now, just to wrap up my point, know that you need to prove yourself online before a publisher (which is an investor, remember?) will show interest in you. You need to make yourself into a sure thing investment. This is pretty much hands-down guaranteed. More on “deep blogging” to follow, soon.

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