7 Days and Signed: From Web-Show Host to Major Book Deal

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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.

One week.

No agent.

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?

Lessons Learned:

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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30 responses

30 responses to “7 Days and Signed: From Web-Show Host to Major Book Deal”

  1. Jonathan – Thanks so much for having me “on” your blog. It really means a lot!

  2. Dave Ursillo says:

    David and Jonathan,

    Interesting piece to say the least, coming from the side of writer immersed in the world of other online writers trying to make their way in this oft confusing industry.

    Congrats David on breaking the mold here, success to ya!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, Lewis Howes, Mark Silver, Elysia Brooker, Mattie Roane and others. Mattie Roane said: RT @LewisHowes: RT @jonathanfields: 7 Days and Signed: From Web-Show Host to Major Book Deal – http://ow.ly/3laMp featuring @therisetothetop […]

  4. Great post. Thanks, David and Jonathan! It’s comforting to know that publishers are recognizing the contributions of writers and free-thinkers online, and breaking their own rules to approach them.

    Good luck!

  5. Jason says:

    It’s amazing how many ways there is to find *things* online. You really don’t know who is watching and reading. I’ve stumbled upon things I wouldn’t normally seek out and have gotten hooked many times.

  6. David – First, congrats on the deal and on finishing the project. 🙂
    Second – thanks for sharing your experience and tips. It’s so important for writers to realize that there’s a lot of groundwork to be done if you want to be an “overnight success” and that publishing is as much about relationship building and promotion as it is about writing.
    You are obviously passionate about your message & your passion carried you along as you busted your butt with all the platform-building work that eventually led to someone “discovering” you and making your dream a reality.
    More and more, I think the development of a writer is a community-based process. Drop kick that image of a writer toiling away in the recesses of some attic garret and replace it with someone who is out there in the world – writing and talking about the thing that makes him (or her) tick – building a community, a dialog, and THEN writing the book.
    Love it.

  7. David,

    I am glad I jumped in here when there were just a few comments, though I am sure tons more will follow!

    Yes, the life of the writer in our modern world is changing day by day: the mindset, the lifestyle, the image, it’s all undergoing a major evolution. And it favors the writer, if he is willing to work hard and talk to A LOT of people.

    With any endeavor, writing especially, balance is once again key. Falling in love with your subject or topic, practicing everyday in some form or another (even if it’s just composing thoughtful e-mails to friends!), engaging with people from many different fields, shaping and polishing your content–all add up to ultimately define and distinguish your content.

    As you imply, you never know who is reading or talking about you so the best thing is to just focus on what you do best and allow the story to unfold largely on its own from there. Not to say you don’t get in there and affect some positive action, but doing high quality work and engaging with your community on a consistent basis is what brings favorable results over time, pretty much without fail.
    Congratulations on the book and kudos on the wonderful post!
    Keep it up!

    Also, BIG thanks, Jonathan, for giving David the floor today!

    Best wishes to you both,


  8. maurille says:

    Wow this is very inspiring.
    I am trying to go about business the same way….give and share….Hasn’t made a fortune yet.
    But here are some really great tips that are very valuble and will be sure to put them to good use.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Author and Artist

  9. David: Congratulations on your success and making it happen! Look forward to reading your book 🙂

  10. Awesome work David. When we had dinner in Vegas you never told me that happened in just one week – you’re a superstar. It helps that you go gung ho after everything you do and people get swept away in your sea of passion.

    So excited for the success of your book both now and in the future


  11. Jaime says:

    Excellent story! I have watched so many interviews at Rise to the Top and it’s great to hear how it progressed into an “easy” book deal.

    Of course two years of building a platform wasn’t easy, but since you are now at the top you get to enjoy your hard work. I hope you sell tons of books. 🙂

  12. It’s an interesting story. Not at all what my experience was. I published 3 books with Wiley and now two with New Riders. I had really different experiences. I think there are multiple paths. It would be interesting to analyze what are the critical, common components and what might vary for each person/situation.

  13. I’ve seen many of your interviews and I love your passion. Congrats on the new book I can’t wait to read it. I’ll have to email you for an interview.

    I love the idea of knowing that anyone could be listening. It’s why we have to put out 100% awesomeness with every single post. The person that might be able and willing to change our lives will probably only visit once, so we better be ready.

  14. Contrarian says:

    David – very nice post!

    Your “lessons learned” where fluff-free and helpful tips/reminders we can all use. I especially liked #4 – be ready. It reminds me of an Abraham Lincoln quote: “I will study and prepare myself and someday my chance will come”.


  15. David,

    This is fabulous–and how terrific for you! Congrats on your new book, I’ll be standing in line to get a copy at my local bookstore I’m sure.

    Like you, I always wanted to write a book. My passion is helping people find jobs and I’ve spent the bulk of my time helping individuals and group job seekers. For years, I harbored the desire to write a book, but always thought that there were would be many rejections from publishers before that happened.

    I put the dream on the back burner. I threw myself into learning everything I could about my field, and into having conversations with colleagues and my peers. I started a small private practice in 2008 and spent all of the money I made in the first two months going to a professional conference–I flew from New York to Minneapolis to make some new friends. My father said, “What are you doing?”

    Less than two years later, I was invited to join two of my colleagues that I met in Minneapolis in writing a book proposal. Our book, The Twitter Job Search Guide, came out in March. We crowd-sourced contributions from over 100 career coaches and recruiters, as well as successful job seekers. We had a blast writing it.

    Like you, I discovered the path to publishing wasn’t a stream of rejection letters, but rather conversations. It was all about the relationships.

    Thanks so much for sharing (and you too, Jonathan). Good luck with your book!

  16. David,

    It’s no coincidence that you had success come to find you and not the other way around. I have been listening to your show avidly for the last few weeks and your passion, enthusiasm and genuine interest in the people you talk to and their stories pours through in all of your interviews. Really, I don’t think anyone could listen to them and NOT want to work with you in some way.

    Learning from you has just reinforced what I have felt in my gut for quite some time now and that is that if you feel, tap in to and express your passion, good things and good people are simply drawn to you.

    That’s the true secret behind the Law of Attraction. It’s not simply sitting around and imagining all the good things you want happening to you. It’s digging into the passion within and then spreading it around and as a consequence drawing the good things around you into your life.

    Best of luck with your book – no doubt it will be a huge success!


  17. Roy Naim says:


    As a follower of your show for over a year now, absorbing the value you provide, applying the ideas that you were able to combine, and really becoming a “smarter, faster, cheaper” marketer, I would like to thank you and congrats you on this journey.

    So sweet to hear the inside story and it is really amazing to see when you do what matters, when you are willing to work hard, provide value, give give give, you will get as you just showed us.

    Thanks for all that you do.

  18. Nancie says:

    Excellent article. I agree, you never know who is watching. How you behave can make you or break you 🙂

  19. […] 7 Days and Signed: From Web-Show Host to Major Book Deal (Jonathan Fields) […]

  20. David – Thanks for sharing the story and lessons. I think your closing statement it worth it’s weight in gold.

    “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.”

    You look at the big picture and it isn’t all about “you”.

    Best wishes for you continued success.
    Faith Fuqua-Purvis