Yes, You Can Publish a Book (Here’s How)
Most people dream of publishing a book without realizing the work that goes into such a project. I still remember the thrill of finishing my first book and the surreal sense of accomplishment. Honestly, I never thought I’d ever publish a book. But thanks to a few simple choices, I was able to do it much sooner than I ever dreamed. Here’s how you can do the same.
Let’s start with sharing what it took to publish that first book. The lessons I learned along the way can help you realize your own dream of writing and publishing a book sooner than you think.
So, how does this work?
Well, there were three steps that made it possible to get a book contract in less than eight months — all without having to write a single book proposal or query letter. If you want to write books for a living, this is where you start.
Below are three simple steps you need to publish a book.
Step 1: Build a platform
Publishers and literary agents all have one important question when you submit a book idea or proposal to them:
Do you have a platform?
What they mean by this is, “Do you have influence?”
Can you speak, and people will listen? Do you have authority on a particular subject and a way to communicate it? Have people given you permission to share information with them?
Types of platforms
There are various types of platforms:
- Radio show
- Television program
- YouTube channel
- Newspaper or magazine column
The trick is to pick one that matches your voice and start building it. It will take time, patience, and permission. A great primer on this subject would be Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing.
One crucial tool for building your platform is respect. You will need to respect people. Never spam them, always add value. And you will win.
Right now, a popular platform type for emerging authors is a blog. It’s what I used, and it worked.
You can do the same.
Step 2: Create a personal brand
Authors have brands. This goes beyond your personality and likes/dislikes. It has to do with your writing voice and what’s relevant to an audience.
Not every aspect of your personality will be represented in your brand.
And that’s okay.
You need to pick the right tone for the group you’re trying to reach and focus on sharing what matters most to others.
What a brand is not
A brand is NOT the subject of your blog. It’s how you color your subject; it’s a particular flair that makes you, the writer, unique. You can write about cooking or entrepreneurship and still have the same voice.
The good news is that with a blog, you can try out different ways to represent yourself until you find what works for you and your readers.
Everything you do needs to connect with this representation of yourself. Your headshots, blog header, etc. all need to support this brand, as well.
Step 3: Find your tribe
Publishing isn’t just about writing. It’s about relationships, too. You have to know the right people to get noticed. And the best way to do that is to find your tribe of followers and fans who will support you.
A tribe is different from a platform. Whereas a platform is the asset you use to reach an audience, your tribe consists of the people that help you build it.
Who makes up your tribe
There are three types of people who make up a tribe:
Fans buy your work. The best way to earn them is to be generous. (Try giving away a free eBook — here’s mine.)
Friends help you grow in your craft. The best way to connect with other writers who can help you is to network (often by doing favors).
Advocates help you build your reach. The way to get on their radar is to do quality work and look for opportunities to serve.
You need all three in order to make the right connections to see your platform grow and eventually land yourself a book contract.
Why traditional publishing?
I am a fan of the recent trend of self-publishing and authors making it happen without the permission of gatekeepers. I love that attitude; it’s what got me started blogging in the first place and, ironically, led to my book contract.
However, I think there is a good deal traditional publishers still have to offer first-time authors. In particular, I have enjoyed the process of learning how a book comes to be. Any money I make is an added bonus (not a financial necessity).
Plus, there is still a lot of authority that comes with being a “published author.” Since not anyone can do it (like with self-publishing), having a book deal with a traditional publisher can be a good way to build your clout. Of course, it’s not for everyone, and I completely respect that.
That said, I think traditional publishing will either evolve or go away completely. There are already plenty of authors who are successfully selling books without ever going through a publisher.
Whatever you do, the thing that you cannot do is wait to be picked. Either build your platform and get a book contract, or build your platform and self publish. But don’t just sit there and dream. We don’t have time for that.
Stop stalling and just start.
If you need more help with getting published, check out these books and articles:
- 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips for How to Write a Book
- You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Me
- The Unconventional Guide to How to Publish Your Book by Chris Guillebeau
- Writing a Winning Book Proposal by Michael Hyatt
Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links.
What kind of book are you writing? Are you going to self-publish or traditionally publish? Share in the comments.