Why Everything You Think You Know About Book Publishing is WrongJun 02, 2020
I’ve spent the past couple of months breaking down the major myths when it comes to book publishing but reading is hard (side note: I just read this story about how Gwyneth Paltrow and lots of other people want to look like they read without having to bother with the reading part — um WTF).
I’m not calling you a Gwyneth, which is the name I’m going to use for non-readers from now on. You’re reading these words after all, aren’t you?
People think they need an amazing story, ridiculous talent and great connections to publish a book. They think that they need to have survived a plane crash that killed everyone else, set a world record or Just Done Some Big Shit in General. They think they need to have the talent of Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Lethem and every other Jonathan who’s ever put finger to keyboard combined. They think that they need to know the top brass at the top publishing companies or at least a couple of agents.
All you need is a story.
The Fact That You Only Need a Story is Good News
Why is this good? Because everyone, save some terribly boring people who would never be reading this post, has a story.
But here’s the rub. Just putting your story or thoughts or experiences into a book isn’t enough. It’s the whole tree falling in the woods thing. If no one reads your book, it’s called a diary.
You have to get out there and share your book.
The House Above Is a Metaphor, Yo
If you’ve built your house correctly (that is, written a great book), it’s on a solid foundation—much like the house above.
Still, it’s up to you to get the world to see it.
You can do that in any way you like but just tweeting out your book link or sending a newsletter to your email list isn’t going to do much. Trust me on this one. After publishing eight books of my own and publishing countless others, I’ll tell you the four ways I believe are most effective: blog posts, podcast appearances, videos and speaking.
Those are, if you will, the windows into your story.
Of course, this is all easier said than done.
Start with Blog Posts
Looking at the to-do list above, it’s clear that the only one you can control is the blog posting one.
Here’s the easiest way to make your book into blog posts: divide your manuscript into 1000 word sections that could make stand-alone pieces. Add titles and images. Post them on Medium as well as on your own blog, if you have one.
Moving Onto Podcasts
Getting on podcasts isn’t as difficult as you might think, provided you have the right approach. Anna Sabino has some great resources about this—just go to her site to download the exact email she used to get booked on over 50 podcasts. But here are a few of my top tips:
- Compile a list of podcasts you’d like to go on; be realistic (Joe Rogan, Marc Maron and the other heavyweights are not realistic)
- Listen to at least three episodes of the show you’re interested in appearing on before reaching out; get to know who the host is and the gist of the show.
- Figure out how to get in touch with the host or booker (some shows make this difficult, some easy; if there’s no contact information readily available, try to connect over social media).
- Show your personality in your pitch. Be you; don’t be boring. If you’re a genuine fan of the show, let the host/booker know. If you’ve reviewed the show on Itunes, definitely let them know!
- Explain in the fewest number of words possible why you are an ideal guest for the show and what specifically you can talk about that would appeal to that show’s listeners (possibly mention shows you liked which your episode might be similar to); mention, if it’s relevant, other podcasts you’ve been on that this show producer/host may know.
- Break down how you would share and promote the episode you’re on (if you have a big social media following or access in some other way to an audience that show doesn’t, mention that).
- Offer a copy of your book to the host and also offer to give one away to listeners.
- Include a link or links to your work which shows how impressive you are.
- If it’s a show where guests offer freebie downloads in conjunction with their appearances (many of the entrepreneur podcasts do this), offer to create one. Also, make it clear that you will share the episode widely with your audience (and perhaps point out why it’s a segment of the population the host or booker might like to reach).
Which Brings Us to Videos
There are two types of videos that are easy and effective ways to promote your book:
Book “Trailer” Videos The easiest way to make promo videos (what we used to call “book trailers”) is to use the Clips app. I can’t edit to save my life but Clips makes it so easy to add text, photos and music that it makes me feel like I can. Here are a few examples of videos I made to promote some of my courses using Clips. Clips is, miraculously, free.
“Expert” Videos The easiest way for you to craft the content of your book into videos that enhance your credibility is with the BIGVU app. It, like Clips, is a God-send. All you have to do is copy content (some version of what you’re releasing as individual blog posts) onto the app and it will feed the words to you as if you’re reading a teleprompter. Afterward, you can add a chyron title, music or whatever else you’d like and then export it to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or your camera. It’s $59.99 a year—a bargain considering what it does.
And Finally, Speaking
Truth talk: it’s not like TEDx bookers aren’t just going to start reaching out to you because you have a book. When I did my three TEDx talks in 2018, it took a ton of hustle.
But TEDx isn’t the only game in town. You can show up at Toastmasters, BNI or any professional bureau where people speak to start getting practice. Then you can start asking friends who are teachers and business owners if you can come speak to their classes or colleagues.
Whenever you speak, make sure it’s caught on tape and once you have a few different clips, make that into a reel that you submit to other places where you can get paid speaking gigs. Those who want to speak at colleges can apply to NACA while people who hope to speak at conferences can Google conferences in their area and reach out to the organizers.
Of Course, Your Book Promotion Doesn’t End There
There’s way more to do this than crafting blog posts, making a few videos, going on a couple of podcasts and nabbing those speaking gigs. There are actually a slew of other tips and techniques that will make all the time or money (or both) that you spent producing your magnum opus more than worthwhile.
Since one book can make you an expert, you owe it to yourself to work your book as much as you possibly can. And if I haven’t already made it clear, you owe it to yourself to get your book written and out there.
After all, Gwyneth has and she doesn’t even read!