Even though some people have declared the death of traditional publishing and the rise of self publishing, getting a book deal is still one of the highest levels of achievement for any blogger.
Out of millions of bloggers on the web, only a handful are deemed worthy by publishers. There’s really no denying the fact that getting a book deal from a traditional publisher puts you on a different level both in terms of achievement and credibility.
But what does it take to successfully get from blog to book deal? After hundreds of interviews with successful bloggers, many of whom have made the journey to a book deal, I’ve narrowed it down to 5 essential elements.
If your blog was a house, the content is the foundation. If the foundation is faulty nothing else matters. That’s why it’s important to continually perfect your craft. If you’re wondering how you do it, I’ve got some bad news. There are no shortcuts.
A best-selling author I recently spoke with said that the unpopular truth about how you get good is by putting in the time. So rather than waste your time looking for the magic bullet, put your fingers to your keyboard every morning and do the work. If you look at the earliest work of any successful blogger you’ll notice it is not nearly as good as it is today. They’ve evolved over time.
So before you worry about how you’re going to make the journey from blog to book deal, focus on creating killer content.
You might be the best writer in the world, maybe even the next F. Scott Fitzgerald in the making. But without a platform, you’ve got no shot at a book deal. So let’s look at the essential elements of a platform.
Your blog is the most essential element of your platform. An actively maintained blog gives publishers concrete evidence of your ability to write. It also enables you to build a portfolio of work, and above all, allows you to build an audience for the book you want to write. It might sound completely obvious, but publishers are in the business of selling books. Without an audience, you won’t have anybody to sell your book to.
As a prolific podcaster I want to make note of the fact that a blog is a multi-format platform which can host video, audio, pictures, and text. In fact Mignon Fogarty is a perfect example of somebody who has made the journey from podcast to book deal to podcasting empire. So don’t discount other content formats in the process of building your platform.
There isn’t a single successful blogger, author, or entrepreneur who hasn’t uttered the words “the money is in the list”. Ignoring their email list is always cited as one of the biggest mistakes people make in the early days of blogging. Often the people who comment on your blog are other bloggers and not necessarily people who will buy anything from you. So naturally publishers want to see a relatively sizable email list as part of your platform.
All social networks are not created equal. In the eyes of a publisher what’s probably going to matter most is where the most substantial audience for your book will be. An active Facebook fan page with a substantial audience is a multiplier of your reach. In addition to increasing the size of your audience, it provides a great incubator for testing book ideas with your readers and getting feedback.
In a recent chat with my friend Kristina Holmes (who is a literary agent), she mentioned that while twitter can’t be ignored, it’s not as important as many people think because it hasn’t been as successful as other platform components in increasing book sales.
Whether you love or hate Google+, it’s probably not going anywhere considering it’s owned by one of the 800 pound gorillas of the internet. While some people say that all they hear is crickets chirping on Google+, early adopters like Ryan Crowe have grown a following of over 60,000 people. So don’t write it it off.
Every published author I’ve spoken with always tells me about the instrumental role a literary agent has played in the process of helping them get from blog to book deal. The nuances of publishing companies, contracts, book advances and all the elements that go into a book deal are usually beyond the comprehension of most bloggers. That’s where an agent comes in. A good agent will help you shape the best proposal possible and get you the best deal possible. This allows you to focus on what you wanted to do in the first place, which is write the best book possible.
4. Original Concept
These days it might appear that all you have do is create a popular blog about blogging or social media and a publisher comes knocking on your door with an opportunity for you to write the next great marketing book. But dig under the surface and you’ll realize that an original concept is really important in a publisher’s decision to bet on you. If your concept isn’t completely original, you might have to bring in a new perspective on an old topic. But the more likely you are to add to the echo chamber, the less likely you are to get a book deal.
5. Marketing/Promotion Plan
You might be under the impression that getting a book deal will make you more well known. The reality is that the publisher has come to you with the goal of selling as many books as possible. Since you have the platform they look to you to come up with the marketing and promotion plan. Given that the marketing plan is what will help a publisher accomplish their ultimate goal, a solid marketing plan is essential to sealing the deal.
The journey from blog to book deal is clearly a lot of work. The dream and the reality are often very different. Do you have dreams of getting a book deal? If so, do you have the essential elements in place?
Srinivas Rao is the host and co-founder of BlogcastFM, where he has interviewed nearly 300 of the world’s most successful bloggers. He’ s also the author of Blog to Book Deal How They Did It.
Image of Gretl Claggett by 85Photos
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