I am constantly asked, “Why do people like Dr. Phil, Donald Trump, and Laura Bush get books published? They aren’t even writers. I’ve worked on a manuscript for years, but I can’t get a publisher. What’s with that?”
The answer? Visibility. Those people have platforms. They’re known.
Become known, and you too can attract interest from publishers. How?
Dennis E. Hensley is one of four drill instructors at the Guild’s next Novel Writing Boot Camp. Enroll today—if you’re deadly serious.
Bill yourself as an expert in your field and get out there, speaking on your topic.
Don’t overlook the obvious matters—business cards; brochures including your photo, titles of your speaking topics, and endorsements; a Web site promoting your writing and speaking. Additionally, make available a CD of one of your talks or a DVD of one of your workshops.
In your backyard
Years ago I pitched a Saturday half-hour radio show called, “Freelance Writing Made Easy.” I lined up two bookstores willing to sign 15-week contracts to underwrite the show. After a year I was so busy with speaking engagements, I ended the radio program and went on the road.
Contact independent TV outlets; create your own promotional blog; speak to public service groups (Kiwanis, Lions, Elks); speak at banquets, retreats, or teach college night school courses. At first, you may have to do some of this pro bono. Later you can charge a fee, as well as set up your book sale table.
The success factor
None of this prep work amounts to anything unless your presentations are stunning. Amazing. Rocko-socko. Your next two bookings are sitting in each audience. When you knock a crowd for a loop, people talk. This will lead to more invitations. Nothing will boost your career as much as positive word of mouth. Never allow yourself to give anything less than a phenomenal presentation.
Each year I meet dozens of people (80 percent of them women) who hand me a business card that says Susan Smiley, author/speaker. They have taken a three-day crash course in how to dress for success and prepare a speech. Bingo—they’re ready to go on tour. They land a gig or two at a ladies’ luncheon or PTA meeting. But, oddly enough, the phone doesn’t ring off the hook thereafter. Clearly there was no pizzazz in the presentation. All the promotional trappings were in place, but no one got excited about the speaker.
Avoid this by writing a content-heavy, highly entertaining speech. Rehearse it, hone it, revise it until it’s a knockout. Then, prepare another one. If you are a great orator, you’ll be booked at massive venues. That leads to large on-the-spot book sales and additional speaking engagements.
A big platform results in lots of books sold—and publishers just love that.
Dennis E. Hensley is the author of more than 50 books and 3,000 freelance articles. He is a columnist for Writer’s Journal and Advanced Christian Writer and a member of the CWG board. He directs the professional writing program at Taylor University.