Part II: How To Overcoming Publishing's Litmus Test
I would be presumptuous if I claimed to have all the approaches to by-passing the litmus test of having a national platform. Each book project has its own strengths and weaknesses, but I have come to see specific approaches that have helped clients get published even though the authors were relatively unknown. In my last article I described three book projects that were accepted by major publishers. I issued a challenge to anyone who read one of the three books to provide their insights, but only one writer responded to that challenge. I will provide her insights, which are right on target.
The Ultimate Guide to The Daniel Fast
The first book I discussed in the previous article was The Ultimate Guide to The Daniel Fast. Here are the insights on why it was published from Delores Liesner:
Because there was a need. I became aware of the book through a member of an
Arizona church who were doing the Daniel Fast together. The book was an
excellent guide for them and got me interested. Too often when people
"diet" whether for physical or spiritual reasons, they focus on what they
cannot have. This book helped to focus on what they could have, and did it
Unfortunately, a lot of writers tackle an article or a book because they believe they have something to share, overlooking that readers pick up non-fiction books because of a felt need in their lives. Beautiful prose won’t impress an editor if there is no felt need for the book. Even a great idea will not get you published if there are not thousands desperately needing the help your book can provide. Repeatedly I have to tell authors to switch their perspective from what they want to share to what readers’ felt need is. Even responding to real need will not do—what readers feel as their need is your only gate to their intellect and heart.
Kristen Feola not only sensed a felt need for help with the Daniel Fast, she determined to provide unique added value to a book on the fast already available on the market. She spent hours in the kitchen preparing meals and then photographing them in her improvised photo studio in her kitchen. These beautifully arranged meals were so attractive they really impressed readers. She also provided daily meditations. Added value always sells with editors, something far too often overlooked by writers.
Finally, by God’s grace Kristen’s timing was impeccable. Only God and the editor at her publisher knew that the editor had missed out on acquiring the book on the Daniel Fast that another publisher released and was selling well. When the editor saw the superior product that Kristen delivered, she sprang into action and the publisher produced a book with full color insert in record time. Marketers say timing is “everything,” but in reality timing must be matched by a product with added value.
The Question: What are you doing to provide added value to your book, that will give you a unique voice?
Set Free to Live Free
When Saundra Dalton-Smith MD first queried me I realized that this internal medicine specialist was more than a medical practitioner. She revealed a heart for her patients’ needs that is rare with specialists. She recognized she was ministering to women who needed a whole lot more help than another prescription. Having a solid spiritual grounding, she developed five principles that she began to apply in her counseling, even establishing a counseling schedule with one of them. The results proved she was onto an approach that God was using to set women free from the lies dominating their lives.
Saundra’s first attempt at a book proposal did not interest editors. It would have been easy for her to give up. Instead she began interacting with me and recognized that the seven lies she had identified could get her noticed by an editor. She reworked her proposal and sample chapters to introduce the seven lies and the five steps in dealing with them. Yet it wasn’t only the addition of the number 7 and the lies, it was that they came across as authentic, true to the life situations of women everywhere, that got her past the litmus test of a national platform. She had listened and listened to woman after woman with a heart of compassion and the Holy Spirit gave her the approach that ignited interest at Revell all the way from editor to sales reps.
Questions: What difficult life experiences can be used by the Holy Spirit to aid in communicating life truths to readers? Do you have a listening ear as others reveal the difficulties they are facing? Have you prepared yourself spiritually, biblically, so the Holy Spirit can give you unique insights?
Fashioned by Faith
When Rachel Lee Carter drove two hours to meet with me she was checking me out, but what she was writing and who she was excited me because of the obvious values she brought to her writing task, a book on modesty. She was well aware that several books on purity touched on modesty, but she had faced down agents who wanted her to model clothing she considered decidedly immodest. Those decisions had cost her thousands of dollars in income, but she had also experienced God making up the difference! And they gave her a platform because her international experience as a fashion model was backed by tough real life decisions, which on a smaller scale many middler girls and their mothers faced.
Rachel also set about providing added value. First she enlisted nine young men from across the nation to write 300 words on their perspective on modesty, getting them to provide a photo to go with their discussion of the topic. Each gave her an extension of platform, since each represented a community. She also secured permission to use her modeling photos, since these would intrigue girls and their mothers. Then she threaded the tough life experiences of a model bucking the trend toward more skin in modeling, adding another dimension to the presentation. All of this took a lot of work, far more than she anticipated when she embarked on the book project, but the reception her book proposal received at Tommy Nelson validated her efforts.
Questions: To what lengths are you willing to go to give added value to your book? What content could extend your platform beyond what you naturally already have? What breakthrough content can you provide that will give you a unique voice?