Many people have asked me how you publish a book. Do you need a literary agent and how do you get one? How do you find a publisher if not?
I thought I might share a little about how I got my book published in case you have a similar dream as me. But in truth, I got a publishing deal because of YOU. And mostly, I’d just like to THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart without you I couldn’t have accomplished a dream in my life: To be a published author.
Four years ago, I decided to create an online business centered around creativity. At the same time, I was writing a memoir that I had begun in my 20’s. I began writing blogs every Sunday offering teachings I had learned over 20 years about creativity, finding peace, happiness, going through transitions, and relationships. All the things that interested me, quite frankly.
Over time, my email list grew—beginning with friends and family. I took Marie Forleo’s B-school to learn how to create an online business and the biggest tip I can offer from her is that growing your own list on your website is far more important than growing your social media platform. The reason why is that you develop an intimate relationship with those people (YOU) and this is what truly matters.
After writing a hundred Sunday Letters, I began writing a book on creativity, and included in it parts of my memoir. I had no clue if it would ever sell, but I loved the process. I felt on purpose. “How to” and memoir are both things I love writing, but of course I knew there was a very small market. Anything is possible, I kept telling myself, if you work hard and believe in it.
For any non-fiction book and sometimes memoir, you have to write a proposal for the publisher. There’s a specific structure to it: A grabbing title, a hook, the synopsis, the outline, a paragraph describing every chapter and 2-3 sample chapters. But what they also care a lot about is your marketing plan and comparison titles (which books are like yours and how yours differ.)
The proposal is 40-50 pages long and takes quite a bit of work. Some people don’t write the book first and just send the proposal off because many publishers end up changing it. Me, I feel like I have to write at least a few drafts of the manuscript first in order to write the proposal.
Smaller publishers will allow you to submit a proposal with a query letter and without an agent. Their websites will tell you exactly how you do this. Larger publishers will only work with an agent. My publisher, Schiffer publishing accepted my proposal for The Game of You 12 years ago and that’s how I got started.
For The Muse in You, I attempted to get an agent. I met several at literary salons I hosted in NYC and they were open to having conversations with me, but in the end not interested, especially in how-to. And best-selling author friends were kind enough to introduce me to their agents, but after a few meetings, I was told my platform was not big enough. They care about this now, which is unfortunate, because what is most important to them is having a huge following for marketing. (I was told a minimum of 200,000 subscribers on Youtube…)
Especially for non-fiction and memoir, you need to either be a celebrity or have some major literary clout. I was surprised when I was told memoir is hard to sell, since it seemed to me many people read it.
A few times, I thought it just wasn’t going to happen and put the manuscript aside, but I held steadfast to my dream inside. My husband and I moved from the city to the suburbs in the winter and I decided to take some time to get settled. I told you guys I was going to take a break for a few months from my Sunday Letters.
When spring was blooming, I returned and with that first Sunday Letter I received an email from my editor at Schiffer publishing. She had missed me, told me she loved my blog, and would I be interested in publishing a book with them?
“I have a manuscript already,” I gleefully replied.
“Can you have it for me in 2 weeks?”
I counted my lucky stars that I had worked on many drafts and it was almost ready. And here we are a year later (yes, it takes that long), and The Muse in You is available for pre-purchase and releases on April 28th.
So thank you my dear friends for reading my Sunday Letters. Without you my dream would never have been possible. I’m on my knees with gratitude and I hope you will enjoy reading it.
All my appreciation and love,