Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

What It Really Takes to Get Published: An Interview with Michael Hyatt

I recently had a conversation with my friend, Michael Hyatt, about what it takes to get published. (Yes, I know. That sounds crazy to me, too, but for some reason he keeps taking my calls.)

Get Published

Photo credit: Kristin Nador (Creative Commons)

In the interview, I asked Michael to ditch the industry jargon and speak plainly about how you can publish a book. And he did just that. Below is the interview and some of the highlights (all the quotes are from Michael).

Listen to the interview

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download the mp3

About Michael

If you don’t know Michael Hyatt, you should. He is the go-to expert on publishing and platform-building. He even wrote a book on the subject.

Mike is also the chairman of a large publishing house, a New York Times best-selling author, and one of the most popular bloggers in the world. He’s a pretty nice guy and a super helpful person to follow (I’m often getting ideas from his blog).

But before we get into all that, let’s answer an important question…

Why should you get published?

There’s nothing in our culture that credentials you quite like a published book.

In the age of self-publishing and DIY everything, choosing to go with a traditional publisher is no longer the norm. In fact, some people wonder if it’s even worth it, which is a valid concern.

So why bother with a traditionally published book?

It gives you authority and helps you be perceived as an expert on a given subject. There’s no better way to do that than to become an author. Not even an advanced degree can do what publishing a book can do.

So if that’s your goal, or if that idea interests you in some way, how do you get started? Here are three actions you need to take:

1. Change your mindset

It’s more important to have the right mindset than it is to have the talent.

Before you publish anything, you need to have the right attitude. It’s not just enough to have a great story or idea you want to share; you have to believe you can actually do it. It’s a matter of confidence, and believe it or not: your mindset matters.

According to Michael, you need to switch from thinking, “I’ve got to write this book” to, “I get to write this book.” It’s a privilege, something you’re called to do. And you should treat it like one.

Moreover, you need to take ownership of the whole process: your attitude, your actions, and even the results. Of course, you can’t control everything, but this kind of self-accountability will get off the blame train and on the right track.

2. Build a platform

If you have a platform, it creates enormous freedom.

You probably knew this already, but if you want publishers to notice you, you need a platform. A place to gather your tribe of fans and who will follow your lead and want to hear what you have to say.

It’s not easy to do, but there’s nothing like it. Once you have a platform, you have what everyone wants: the attention of an audience. And once you have that, you can do whatever you want.

This is important for fiction and nonfiction authors alike (despite what you’ve heard). And yes, this applies to novelists and memoirists as well as business advice and how-to writers.

And just how do you build a platform? Good question. You figure it out. One step at a time. It’s that simple (but not necessarily easy).

3. Get started

The path unfolds as I take the steps.

What’s the first big step to getting published? Act. Put one foot in front of the other — and repeat. Courage, as we’ve often heard, is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to move in spite of it.

Are you uncomfortable? Nervous? Afraid? Good. Those feelings are good indicators that you need to be moving forward. Getting started can be as simple as starting a blog, declaring yourself a writer, or finally filling out that book proposal.

Whatever it is, you probably already know what it is. So… it’s time to move. And if you’re a little bit afraid, that’s okay. It’s a good sign, because it means there’s something at stake and that you need to get started.

You’ve got something that needs to be shared with the world.

Check out the rest of the interview

In the audio interview, we also talk about:

  • When you know it’s time to write a book
  • Whether or not you should self-publish or go with a traditional publisher
  • Michael’s story of getting rejected 29 times before his first book was published
  • What it takes for fiction authors to build a platform
  • How many “fans” you need to get published
  • The business of publishing and why it matters

Tweetable quotes

  • “There’s nothing in our culture that credentials you quite like a published book.” (Tweet that)
  • “It’s more important to have the right mindset than it is to have the talent.” (Tweet that)
  • “If you have a platform, it creates enormous freedom.” (Tweet that)
  • “You’ve got something that needs to be shared with the world.” (Tweet that)
  • “The path unfolds as I take the steps.” (Tweet that)
  • “It may be possible to succeed without a platform, but you’re counting on lightning to strike.” (Tweet that)
  • “If you think you can’t, you’re already defeated from the start.” (Tweet that)

If you could publish a book, what would it be about? Share in the comments.

Special Offer: Michael is giving a special $200 discount off his 21-part audio course, Get Published, for any readers of my blog. If this interview resonated with you, you should check it out.

Disclosure: The above link is an affiliate link, which means I get a commission if you decide to purchase the program. But this is at no extra cost to you. Also, I only endorse products that I use myself and believe in.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

How I got 100,000 blog readers in 18 months

Sign up for the free newsletter and get a three-part series on exactly what I did to grow my blog from zero to 100,000 readers in less than two years. Enter your email below to get started.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leigh.hudson.16 Leigh Hudson

    Great article! As someone I trust in the industry, you’ve helped me see it is possible to publish. I’m a big fan of Michael’s as well and learn tons from his site too. 
    When, not if, I publish…My book is about my life and all the poor choices I made and yet God chose to redeem me and use me in spite of me. The essence of my book is “you’re never too dirty for God.”
    Am enjoying being a part of your Wrecked launch team and look forward to working with you more!
    Blessings,
    Leigh A. Hudson

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Leigh!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.couch Kathleen Couch

    Thank you for the interview with Michael.  But my question is how do you put the “Tweet That” in your text.  Is there a plug in or something?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Kathleen, you can use  a simple free tool called Click to Tweet. Here it is: http://clicktotweet.com

      • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

        Thanks Jeff, I’ve been meaning to look for this app :) 

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          you’re welcome, Ngina.

          • http://www.nickcerda.org/ Nick Cerda

            Yep, I’ve been trying to figure it out myself. Thanks.

            • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

              Me too!! You just saved me a lot of time. Thanks! :)

      • Kathleen

        Thank you, Jeff!  I realize my question was off topic, and probably out of place.  Thank you so much for answering.  Since I discovered your blog and read wrecked, I have been reading and following your blog.  Great information and very encouraging for a new blogger.

  • Ralph Rickenbach

    The first book I want to write is a guide to discipleship. It is rather devastating to have such a lack of good and timely ressources in German. The second project is the history of our apostolic network for future generations in English. Both of these I might start as ebooks.

    But then I will write about the apostolic church – again in German. This I want to be published traditionally to reach a broader readership as many Christians in the German speaking area still have not switched to electronic reading.

    Thanks for the good advice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.regier.75 Bryan Regier

      Gott segne dich, Ralph. Super Idee!

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    Pretty sure he writes about Christianity, etc. That’s his niche, I take it.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hi Michael. If you’re referring to Michael Hyatt, you’re right in that he’s a Christian, but he writes a lot about leadership, social media, and publishing/writing.

  • TammyBoltWerthem

    we are writing our life story as identical twins: one trapped in addiction for years, in and out of institutions; the other twin trying to rescue…both surrendered to WIN….called “Inseparable” .  you can check out a post here: http://iwokeupyesterday.com/inseparable/inseparable-aunt-tammys-out-of-jail-jenny-price/

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      awesome.

    • http://www.islandsofmysoul.com/ Shari

      This sounds like an amazing story, Tammy.  I would buy it in a second.

    • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

      Intriguing. Unique. Exciting!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jen.schwab Jen Gabler Schwab

    Andy and I want to write a book, and this really blew open my vision of how to make it happen.  Thanks, Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      That’s awesome, Jen. You guys have a lot of wisdom and experience to share, for sure.

  • BWillie

    I have been feeling a tug to write a book about our personal calling in life from God – how to discern His purpose for me and for each of us.  In doing some reading, there is more material out there than I realized, but not with the practical slant I want to pursue.   I want to intertwine my own personal story and talk about how it shaped my conclusions.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Awesome. Thanks for sharing, BWillie!

  • http://twitter.com/cupojoegirl Eileen Knowles

     Great advice.  That first one is great. “I get to write this book.”  NOT  “I’ve got to write this book”   Amazing how one word changes your whole attitude…not only with publishing but everything. Looking at things with this perspective always brings about a sense of gratitude and takes some of the pressure off of the process.  I’ve written one tiny ebook so far but believe there might be another one in me.   But I want to approach it with this kind of attitude.  Thanks for sharing. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      totally. I really liked what he said about calling.

    • Katharine Trauger

      One word? — One little VOWEL! ;-)

  • Steve Snyder

    I’ve recently finished a novel about the difficulty of transformation. Dallas Willard writes in “Renovation of the Heart”that core ideas, which drive our thoughts, feelings and actions, only change as the result of breakdown or revolution.

    My character’s ideas about what is true around him begin to crumble, and he goes on a journey of discovery opposed by those who don’t want him to know the truth. I wrote it to remind myself of several key spiritual concepts by abstracting them in a fictional world. I’ve also had my writer friend give it a big thumbs up as entertainment, and I am using it as a way to witness truth to him.

    I’m in edit mode now, bu I’m also planning a prequel and at least one sequel.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I LOVE that book, Steve.

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Michael is a must-follow. So much great information in this interview. My current book proposal is about hope in the suffering. One I will be starting soon is about embracing parenting a child with disabilities. Thanks, Jeff.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love that topic, Julie. Sorry to hear about what you’ve had to go thru, but I look forward to reading it.

      • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

        I appreciate your empathy, Jeff. However, I’m a far better person due to God’s redemptive power through the  pain of multiple miscarriages and my sweet daughter’s life. Our suffering refines us if we let it. I’ll send you a copy of the book when (not if) it gets published. Blessings.

  • http://lovingsimpleliving.com/ Lorilee

    Jeff, you and Michael are both amazing :)  I loved ‘You are a Writer’ and ‘Platform’ and have learned so much from both of them.   As I read I always figured it was still a gamble.  I still think it is, but I can say that following your advice combined with luck and God got a publisher to come find me this past summer.  I honestly thought it was a scam because it was ‘too good to be true’.  I now have the check sitting on my desk and I am so excited!  Thanks so much for all your help! 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wow! This is an awesome testimony, Lorilee. Good for you! Isn’t it a great feeling?

      • http://lovingsimpleliving.com/ Lorilee

        :)

    • http://josephiregbu.com/ Joseph Iregbu

      Well done Lorilee. Keep up the great work you’re doing

    • http://www.bendempsey.net/ Ben Dempsey

      Awesome Lorilee.  Looking forward to reading it!

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    Awesome thoughts Jeff and Michael. I have a rough manuscript on Courtship and Marriage. Lots to do and i totally agree with #3!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      very cool!

  • Krbrid

    I just finished writing my first book.  I’m handing it over to proof reader#1 next week, YIKES! It’s about my journey into the homeless population with a Blanket Ministry I started and interviews I did with them last year and also about the special friendship my husband and I had with one of the homeless men.   This article was so good.  Yes, I’m scared, but I’m so passionate about this story that I keep taking those steps forward. Yes, I have a platform through my blog, which I was also scared to begin, but I took that step and celebrating my 2nd year with it.  It has been a huge blessing to me and so many tune in to read the homeless stories.  I’m stepping out in faith with each step and excited to see where it goes.  Thank you for sharing this interview.
    Kristin Bridgman

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      you’re welcome, Kristin! glad you enjoyed it.

    • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

      SO exciting about your first book!! Looking forward to checking out your blog. Thanks for sharing your passion. :)

  • Katharine Trauger

    I am currently writing a how-to about the proper Chrisitan response to unfair suffering. I will publish it, and this information has been very helpful. Thanks so much.

  • Judy Guion

    I want to publish a book that helps bridge generations by sharing the importance of family traditions and stories.

  • Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo

    Great interview! I have been grappling with some of the questions that were answered here. Thanks!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Very cool, Melissa.

  • http://josephiregbu.com/ Joseph Iregbu

    I have a devotional manuscript with the publisher (self-publishing) that explores the topic of grace and hope undergoing copyediting. Book cover design starting soon too. It’s taken years to get here but positive about the future. Thanks for inspiring courage in writers.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      very cool, Joseph!

  • Cole Crook

    Hands down, the most helpful blog I’ve come across in months. Thanks Jeff and Michael!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wow. Thanks, Cole. Means a lot!

      • Cole Crook

        Keep it up Jeff! You’re work is helping me so much.

  • Melissa Boles

    I’m definitely going to have to give the interview another listen and re-read this. So much good information. I’ve just decided to write a book on the two-week period that changed my life: a trip to Kenya, my Uncle’s suicide, and the beginning of an extremely important relationship. I’m now going to start saying that I GET to write it!

    • http://www.bendempsey.net/ Ben Dempsey

      Go for it Melissa!

  • http://twitter.com/JohannaACastro Johanna Castro

    Fabulous advice, and heartening too :) I agree so much about the mindset. You have to go into it with the right attitude, really really want to do it, and then stick to it.

  • http://www.kelleynikondeha.com/ Kelley Nikondeha

    I want to write a theology of adoption, from the perspective of an adopted child and adoptive mother – as I am both. I want to explore how adoption shapes us in unique ways to offer redemptive goodness to the world. I imagine a work that is part memoir, part theological exploration and written for anyone who is part of the adoptive network, including all of us who celebrate our adoption by God.

    • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

      I think this sounds like a fantastic idea. Really. I’m not adopted but my mother was. I can imagine so many spiritual parallels. I say “go for it!!”

  • http://www.minivansarehot.com/ Kelli

    I am 85,000 words into a novel that I feel I was created to write. And it TERRIFIES me. I’m so scared, it’s taken me ten years and four drafts to get to this point and now that I’m here – now that the characters have found their voices and begun to tell the stories that need to be told, I am overcome with fear and excitement and confidence. I believe with all my heart this book will be published. If I finish it. It’s historical fiction and it’s braod and vast and poetic and so much bigger than I ever imagined it would be. I believe in it. I’m ready to take the steps.

    Thank you for sharing this interview. It was everything I needed to hear.

    • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

      That’s really exciting Kelli! 

    • ndidi nwaokafor

      I’m happy for you. I feel you are a blesing going somewhere to offload. Can’t wait to read your success story dear

  • http://twitter.com/danharding Daniel Harding

    Something like “30 Minutes to Dad” or “Dad by Dawn”: A 30-minute read for dads-to-be so that they don’t freak out when a newborn baby arrives :)

    • http://www.bendempsey.net/ Ben Dempsey

      Great concept.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I would totally read that.

  • http://1stteacher.wordpress.com/ Anita

    I heard, “Just act.” Take a step forward. That’s what I need to do because “The path unfolds as I take the steps.”
    Good stuff, as usual.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, Anita.

  • http://www.bendempsey.net/ Ben Dempsey

    I would write about my journey to losing 160 pounds and also to write a children’s book about for kids on the effects of bullying in regards to obesity.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Would = ARE. Keep up the great work, Ben.

  • http://www.kellysauer.com/ Kelly Sauer

    The book I plan to write once I get to a place where it has words is a book about making art out of real life. As a photographer trying to establish a business in an industry that is constantly putting things on its subjects – whether poses or details or expectations – I haven’t been able to “play the game” the publishers want me to play, but something is happening for me now under the surface, relationally. I’m slowly turning my blog and platform over to a lifestyle approach that talks about real life and displays the art I find in it. It took me a long time to realize I see the world differently from other people – even other photographers – and to be brave enough to put that out there, even though it’s different. I think putting this journey into a book is the only way I can see this playing out.

  • http://www.kellysauer.com/ Kelly Sauer

     P.S. This interview was EXACTLY what I needed after a couple of months in limbo waiting on a new website… Thank you – and Mike – for being so candid with us.

  • http://www.islandsofmysoul.com/ Shari

    This is a great interview.  I truly believe Michael’s words about credibility in authoring a book.  I have been toying with self publishing, but then, too, thought, “Anyone can do that.  I could type my own book and copy it off and it wouldn’t be much different.”  Then, you’d have to be a peddler and try to sell the darn thing.

    I submitted my first book proposal this summer after working through your “You are a writer” course, Jeff.  It was rejected, but I’m reworking it and not giving up.  If Micheal was rejected 29 times, I have 28 more chances! :-)

    Thank you for all you do for writers, Jeff and Micheal.  You give us hope and courage.

  • http://therightvolume.com/ Samantha Livingston

    I did a talk on Joy for a women’s brunch at my church and, as I was preparing, I sensed the Lord wanted me to write a book about what I was learning. It’s kinda scary because I’m sure there are a gazillion books on the topic. However, I feel like He’s given me a specific message about it. I keep stalling though ….:) 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      sounds like Get Published could help, Samantha. It really takes out the guesswork and tells you exactly what you need to do. Hope this interview was helpful, too.

  • http://twitter.com/JonathanMontan Jonathan Montan

    I think I retweeted all those quotes. Great wisdom.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      awesome! thanks, Jonathan. Mike is a tweetable guy, eh? :)

      • http://twitter.com/JonathanMontan Jonathan Montan

         true that

  • joewickman

    Great input Michael. I appreciate you sharing so candidly, and with clear direction, rather than speaking in sweeping generalizations, as so many do when giving advice about next steps for writing.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks for the comment, Joe. I agree. This interview was chock full of awesome wisdom.

  • Jennwith2ns

    You mean ANOTHER book? It would be a novel about Miryam, the mother of Yeshua–told from the first person and as if I were she.

    • Jennwith2ns

       Which is not, despite what you’re thinking, a redundant sentence. :-)

  • http://kerapackage.com/ Kera Package

    Thanks for the info! I want to write a book called: “Oh crap, I’ve decided to follow Jesus.” about how God has changed my attitude about ministry, discipleship, and what it means to be missional. Also, I’d love to write a book on the theology of faith and body art, including both academic research and personal stories of Christians and their tattoos. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/dhorsager Dave Horsager

    good interview