Many writers (and I don't blame them) think that it just takes a great idea to get a book published, and that may be the case if writers and readers and publishers were to live in vacuum in which money doesn't exist. However, the evil that is money is an important factor in how book projects are ultimately given life or killed.
A great book idea is an important first step for potential authors, but here are some other steps a writer usually must take to find success (whether fiction or nonfiction):
- Create a concise description of the book in one sentence (or in 30 seconds of talking). This is one of the most important tools to communicating your book to agents, editors, publishers, marketers, sales reps, book buyers, readers, etc. Of course, your book is more complicated than one sentence (or a 30-second description), but we live in a world in which people digest information in quick bites.
- Develop an amazing title. There are many ways to choose a title, but I suggest going over all the bestselling titles of the past year and looking for inspiration and ideas there. When writing nonfiction, it's usually a good idea to go either humorous or helpful. When writing fiction, use the title to evoke a mood or hint at a mystery that the reader must solve (by reading your awesome novel).
- Prove that a market exists for your great book idea. Just saying that you have a great idea and that people will benefit from reading your book is usually not enough. Explain what kind of people, where publishers can find them, and show that these people are willing to buy books like yours. One way to do this is if you...
- Identify successful competitive titles. If there are books that are like yours that are already doing well, then highlight those success stories. It establishes a market. But you can't write an exact copy of what's already successful. Instead, you must...
- Show how yours is different. Maybe your nonfiction book tackles the subject in a new way or has a different slant. Maybe your novel has a new twist or is set in a new environment or somehow incorporates teenage zombie magicians or something. You want a unique selling point that is still in the same ball park as an established success story.
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Check out these great resources for getting published too: