Today’s guest contributor, my friend David Siteman Garland, is the Founder of The Rise To The Top, The #1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business Smarter, Faster, Cheaper and author of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business
On a Tuesday morning this past February I had a conference call with John Wiley & Sons Publishing House, one of the top business publishing companies in the business.
Exactly one week later, I was offered a big book deal.
And, a completed book proposal (written after the first phone call with Wiley, not before).
Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed about the story (even though everyone tells me to proud) because I know how hard it is and what a struggle it has been for many very talented writers to land a book deal. There are (somewhat ironically) many books, blogs and more on how to get a publishing deal, write a book proposal, hire an agent, etc. And, there are stories from some of the top authors in the world about how many times their book idea, proposal or entire manuscript was rejected, rejected, rejected…and eventually accepted.
Given the typical process, how did I manage to secure a publishing contract without jumping through any of the typical hoops? More importantly, what are the takeaways and lessons that you can apply to your own business and brand?
My intention with this article is to give you an inside look at my experience and offer you several valuable lessons on positioning, marketing, speed, taking action – more strategies than any creative, hustling entrepreneur can apply. And, to offer you relevant strategies you can use immediately – whether you want to write a book or not.
The Radar Screen
I’ve wanted to write a book for many years because I love the physical act of writing. But I just didn’t want to write a book just to write a book. I wanted to write something meaningful, impactful and helpful (and entertaining…hey gotta live up to non-boring right?). Something I could pour EVERY ounce of energy and effort into to make it really special. I had friends that told me to write a book and self-publish it. And that seemed like an interesting idea and there are many examples of great self-published books. But, I figured if I kept working hard (and by working hard I mean writing articles and blog posts and conducting video interviews day after day after day…every day!) something good would happen and the path would become clear.
Here is what happened. On RISE, my Web TV show, I’ve interviewed MANY amazing authors and big thinkers including (to name a few) Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Brian Solis, Tara Hunt, Tamar Weinberg, Tim Ferriss, David Meerman Scott, Shama Kabani, Brian Halligan, Bill Guertin…and the list goes on. And when a good interview is conducted about the book, of course the publisher wants to know about it. So, many of these authors shared the interview with their publishers. And guess what happened? The publishers came to my site (not known to me of course) and started watching the shows. I was now on the radar screen.
Being Ready & Flexible
One day, Bill Guertin, author of “The 800-Pound Gorilla of Sales,” called me one day to mention that Wiley Publishing was interested in talking to me and I should take the call because this rarely happens.
(Much credit goes to Bill for helping me prepare for the call!)
Normally, potential authors (with the help of an agent) contact the publisher in hopes of getting a “yes” as opposed to waiting for a publisher to seek them out.
But, in this case it was inbound. They came to me. Cool!
When Bill asked me if I would take the call, my answer of course was a resounding YES!
A couple of days later, I had a great conversation with Lauren at Wiley publishing. We chatted it up for quite awhile about books, my brand, www.The RiseToTheTop.com, Wiley Publishing, etc. etc.
She asked me if I ever thought of writing a book and I told her absolutely. Not only did I want to do it, but I was extremely passionate about doing so.
Then came the $10,000,000 question (not sure why I wrote $10,000,000…but you know what I mean).
“What would you like to write to book on?” she asked.
Now I don’t know anything different because this was my experience, but from what I understand this is not a question that is normally asked. As mentioned before, specific book topics and themes are normally “recommended” or pushed to would-be authors. Not only is it rare for a publisher to contact an expert about writing a book but it’s also rare to let that author decide the focus of the book!
In response to Lauren’s question I discussed my passion helping unique, creative entrepreneurs. More specifically, I outlined my core principles to marketing and promoting by being smarter, faster, cheaper as opposed to dumber, slower expensive. Becoming a trusted resource as opposed to a product pusher. Dominating by educating, entertaining and inspiring. Learning how to out-smart as opposed to out-spend the competition.
The differentiator being a combination of personal experience and stories from others. I told Lauren that every strategy and big idea in the book would be something that I’ve had personal experience with and what helped grow The Rise To The Top in less than two years from just an idea to a community of over 100,000 big thinkers and well into six-figures in profit. But, I didn’t want the book to be about me. It is about helping others (like you), so a big element was interviewing 200+ creative thinkers over the past three years and learning what worked for them (as well as thousands of conversations with innovators online and off) and then pulling it all together into easy-to-digest big ideas.
Lauren liked the idea and asked if I could put it in writing in a book proposal and get it her by the weekend which was just a few days away.
“Sure!” I said without really thinking about it. She gave me some guidance on the proposal, I cleared a bunch of worthless meetings from my schedule and went to work.
On Tuesday, I received a phone call. Heart-pounding, I was told they loved the proposal and voted unanimously. And, interestingly, they decided to offer me a contract and offer on the spot as opposed to running it through more committees.
All in seven days.
What are the lessons learned? Was this some kind of magical fluke?
1. Your home online is ridiculously important. Your hub. Your platform. Obviously, the most important thing is the content, but design also matters. When people come to your website do they mutter “WOW this is cool!” or click away to one of the other zillion options online?
The key to positioning your hub is content. Because content spreads. Your “About Us” page doesn’t. Are you consistently creating educational, entertaining and/or inspiring content?
2. You never know who is watching, listening or reading. Numbers are overrated. “Who” is watching, listening or reading is underrated. If you have three people visiting your website and they are all amazingly influential or the exact people you want to hang out with, you are doing something right. And good things will happen.
A question to ask yourself: Am I EASY to get in contact with through my website or do people have to jump through hoops to hunt you down?
3. Interviews are relationship builders. For me, I got to know amazing people by interviewing them for our community. Did I ever expect anything in return? Absolutely not. And look what happened….
A tip on relationship building: Always give something of value FIRST and ask for nothing in return. How can you be helpful? Perhaps make an introduction for someone, blog about them or some other way of giving a little love.
4. You have to be ready. I might have procrastinated in writing a book or getting it together, but as soon as a publisher was interested, I went into full focus mode. This is one of the benefits of being a nimble entrepreneur as opposed to a plodding slow one. Things change and you can either jump on amazing opportunities or let them pass you buy. It is up to you.
I use the 20% rule. I try to leave at LEAST 20% of my TTDTS (Total Time Devoted To Stuff) open. This time is used to evaluate new opportunities, meet new people and also devote time to something new (and then re-shift time once again). Try it.
5. Reputation matters online and off. When your name is mentioned, what do people have to say? If your name is searched online, what comes up? If people ask about you on social media sites, do people know, like and trust you. It sounds cliche, but, being good to people and being a person of your word goes a long way.
Fast forward to today, December 7th 2010, Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business has been brought to book life. I hope you will pick up a copy and pick up a buffer of ideas to help your business. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
Bottom line is that business is a long-term relationship and not a one night stand. But, you can definitely speed up the process by focusing on building a passionate following, helping others and key relationships. You would be surprise not only what doors you will be able to open, but what doors are opened for you.
David Siteman Garland is the Founder of The Rise To The Top, The #1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business Smarter, Faster, Cheaper and author of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business
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