Tips For Mommybloggers Hoping To Get Book Deals
The holy grail for bloggers is still the book deal from a traditional publisher. This dream persists, in spite of all of the reports of how bad the prospects for the publishing industry have become, and how dismal sales are for everything other than the ebooks of already extremely well known authors. I think this may have something to do with the credibility that getting a deal with an established publisher carries with it, and admittedly this is not an idea from which I’ve even been able to easily wean myself. Below I’ve listed some of the pointers about the current realities of the publishing industry that I’ve gathered from attending conferences and talking to people who have managed to get book deals in the current climate.
1. Your book needs to have a market — and that probably means you are going to have to bring it with you.
These days, publishers expect authors to bring a ready made sales platform with them. This means that you need to have a market for your book that you are bringing with you to the publisher as a means of convincing them that you are worth the gamble. As a blogger with an established, audience you have a head start in this area, but simply maintaining a blog is not likely to be enough unless your blog is extraordinarily popular (in the millions of pageviews per month). Most mommybloggers do not (and likely will not ever) have that kind of traffic because the niche is just not big enough to support that kind of traffic (at least not right now, at least not for that many of us).
So what can you do? Think about what makes your book salable. Not only do you need to have a group of people who are your fans and who are likely to buy anything you write, you also need to figure out if there is even a market for what you are writing. If your book were to be published, where would it be shelved in a bookstore? What books would be in competition with it? Why is yours better than those? What does it have that those others do not? What are the sales records like for those other books that are comparable to it? Do they suggest that there is a viable market for this kind of a thing right now? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask long before you approach a publisher — ideally, you would be asking them long before you even start writing the book.
2. You need to have a marketing plan ready before you even approach a publisher with a pitch.
People like to think that bookselling is all about the love of writing and all that crap, but it’s a business just like anything else. Actually, it’s a business more than other businesses lately, because it’s been losing money for so long. Your marketing plan is really important to how your pitch is evaluated by the publisher, so you need to give this a lot of thought. Do you have an email list? Do you have the resources to start one, or to go on publicity tours? Because the publisher is not always going to be able to fund these things for you in the current climate. Be prepared to not only map out exactly how you are going to write the book but how you are going to sell it in your pitch — because even if you do manage to get a deal from a publisher, there’s a good chance that you will have to do most of your own marketing.
3. Right now, a traditionally published book is the best $25 business card you cannot buy. By next year, even that might not be true anymore.
The above is a cliche that you hear from writers all of the time: after your first book has been published, the main thing you gain is just the ability to say that you have a book published by a mainstream publisher. This gives you street cred and helps you get other gigs, but it doesn’t usually translate into a lot of money, particularly if it was a nonfiction book. Because of the need for publishers to have their own platforms these days, the power of publishing houses to help authors the way they once did is greatly diminished — the tools are all available to all of us, and though working with a publisher can make certain things easier, the tradeoff is not always going to be worth it.
This is why you will see, more and more frequently, established authors opting to go the self-publishing route (recent notables to have chosen the self-publishing route include Seth Godin and Leo Babauta.) I suspect that this move will become more and more popular with the more entrepreneurial-minded bloggers over the course of the next year. Financially speaking, there is no question that this is the right move for bloggers who have anything like a substantial audience, given the state of the publishing industry and the popularity of ebooks. The question will simply be how many people cling to the idea of having a book published by an old school publishing house, and for how long.