While writing queries and book proposals, remember the agents and publishers also want to know about you. It’s not just about the book. What are your credentials? What makes you the right person to write this book? Especially with nonfiction books, such as I am writing, it’s important to show agents and publishers you are an expert. Leave no question that you aren’t the best person to write your book.
Adding to your Authority
If you aren’t confident about your credentials, add to your authority before you query or submit a proposal. Get letters of recommendation from the top people in your field of research. Don’t be afraid to request a letter from people you don’t know very well. This is an opportunity to talk about your book to people in your area of interest. They will want to help you. Check your affiliations with all the significant organizations in your field. If you find you are lacking in belonging to the right groups, join now.
Hitting the Lecture Tour
Another method is to plan a lecture tour in your field of expertise. First, do your research. Are there any local meetings of organizations pertinent to your subject area? This is usually not as hard as people think it is. For instance, I saw a call for papers from the Assn. for the Study of CT History and immediately wrote a proposal, which was accepted. This action not only will give me more credibility but will also spread the word about my book.
The Speaking Engagements Are out there – Go Get Them
Don’t make it into a monumental project. Take a few notes from a part of your upcoming book that has a universal appeal that will resonate with different groups. Then work up a 20-minute talk. Next, it is just a matter of calling or emailing the different organizations and asking if they need a speaker in the near future. I suggest that you prepare the talk before you start contacting organizations for the following two reasons:
· They might just need someone immediately. This has happened to me.
· If you have prepared your talk, you will be more comfortable giving them an idea of the substance of your talk.
With a couple of talks behind you (be sure to ask for a letter of appreciation for each talk), your confidence level will be high enough for you to write a great description of your qualifications to be part of your proposal.
Even if you’re already confident in your credentials, speaking about your book whenever an opportunity arises and to whoever will give you a microphone is good marketing. Remember the six degrees of separation. You never know who knows someone who might be very interested in your book.
Today it’s a new scene. The agents and publishers want to know that you are capable of marketing your own book. The old days of the publishers doing all the marketing, and setting up your speaking engagements, are gone. Let’s revel in the freedom to operate in our own way.
Please share in comments how you have added to your authority.