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10 Tips for Becoming a Successful Mainstream Author
By Jeff Davidson MBA, CMC
1. The success of a book is 10% content and 90% marketing. Unless the publishing house is behind your book, forget it.
2. The book publishing industry is agent driven. Agents sell the best books for the most money. With some few exceptions. Authors representing themselves can hardly ever match this.
3. The size of the advance absolutely equals the commitment of the publisher. A large advance takes care of the author's concern about whether the publisher will actively promote the book.
4. Only a handful of books per publisher per season are actively promoted. You must gain early indication of this, there is no gray area here.
5. Most editors are afraid to take a risk. Unique topics or unexplored areas must be approved by the higher ups.
6. The relationship between editorial and marketing departments is crucial. Marketers must comprehend your book immediately, be able to describe it in a sentence, and support it 100%. The most successful authors are invited to meet the marketing staff to convey the essence of the book.
7. Book club and serial rights are generally sold in advance of publication.
8. The proposal, the reputation, and connections of the agent, and the background of the author are the three most important elements in gaining early acceptance. If the acceptance isn't early, the proposal probably wasn't ready.
9. Editors and publishers are print-oriented. You must convey to them on paper that your idea is a winner. Some celebrities or temporary media phenomena are able to wrangle a big contract without developing a superior proposal. However, these are usually one shot deals.
10. If a proposal is a winner, it will usually hit at least once within the first five to seven submissions. If not, you are probably not going to hit at all, or if so, for a low advance.
A parting observation -- we live in a media-driven society. Your connection to the media, as a member thereof, or as one who is frequently covered by it, is important and helps enable you to have the right image among publishers.