I Have Plans to Write That Book

Last week, I talked about a few reasons why I don’t plan to write a nonfiction book on style, mainly because I have no desire to develop a presence or platform as an expert on style.

But what if you want to write a nonfiction book about a topic you know and love? Let’s look at the list, revised from last week, to help you decide if you should:

  • Are you well-known outside of your immediate circle of family, friends, and church, particularly as an expert on your chosen topic? My office receives many proposals from authors who attend or lead large churches. While this is helpful, a megachurch alone usually isn’t enough. An author needs to reach many thousands of people beyond his church who seek information from him on a given topic.
  • Are you sought after by the media? Do people ask you for interviews? How large is their combined audience? Are you often asked to speak on your topic?
  • Do you work in the industry?
  • Do you have specialized training in and knowledge of the industry or topic?
  • Do you have influential friends in the industry? Not only can they help and mentor you, they can also provide effective endorsements for your work.
  • Will your work apply to and help a broad audience? There’s nothing wrong with writing a book of tips for people whose elderly poodles suffer from digestive issues, but a significant publisher will need to anticipate selling your book to many thousands of people.
  • Do you blog about your topic? When people can find your posts where you discuss your issue and they like what they read, they may be willing to buy a book from you where you share more on the topic.
  • Do you have one or more social-media accounts dedicated to your topic? Authors who can show that they have followers looking for their thoughts and advice on dedicated social media have a better chance of publication than those who can’t show a willing and waiting audience.

If you can answer in the affirmative to most of the questions above and you have a genuine desire to write the book, do so and continue to build your platform. Otherwise, know that every part of life doesn’t lend itself to a book. Those parts of life are meant for sheer enjoyment.

Your turn:

Were you able to answer yes to most of the questions? Where do you need improvement?

What is the most fun part of platform-building for you?

What other tips on platform-building can you offer?

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Picture-Perfect Personality

Today’s guest writer is Emilie Haney, a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California. She’s a member of ACFW and writes young-adult fiction. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, …

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Would You Buy Your Own Book?

When I ask a room of writers if they would buy their own book if they saw it on the shelf at a major bookstore I am met with a variety of reactions. Laughter. Pensiveness. Surprise. And even a few scowls. How would you answer that question?

But the question is meant to ask if your book idea is unique. Whether it will stand out among the noise of the competition.

It is not a question of whether your book is important or valuable or even well written. It is ultimately a question of commercial viability.

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What Makes You Click?

Below is a visual representation of some astounding statistics regarding Internet usage. A little more than twelve years ago I wrote a chapter for a writing book on how to use the Internet for research. I re-read that article recently…umm, Google didn’t even exist back then (founded in September 1998), much less Wikipedia (where the jury is still out if is a reliable source for verifiable facts).

210 billion emails sent per day? I think I get half of those. <!>
20 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute?

We swim in a sea of data. So how do you discern what to read or view? In other words, what makes you buy or click?

Take that same mindset and apply it to your next book idea or article. What would make the consumer buy or click it, especially when faced with a plethora of competing options? If your idea, your novel, your insight, can withstand competitive scrutiny then you have a chance to impact this world. Obscurity equals no audience. That is why publishers are pushing agents and authors to make their “platform” bigger.


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Dan is leaving the agency at the end of this month to focus his attention on the work of Gilead Publishing, the company he started in 2016. Here are some parting thoughts. _____ I’ve been a literary agent for about 2,000 of the 13,000 total days spent working with and …

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The Biggest Question About Your Book

Authors are like small businesses. They have a finance department, a marketing department and an editorial wing. Then there’s the travel, human resources, IT and facilities management departments, all managed by one person, the author. While writing quality and author platforms are discussed at every writer’s conference, those aren’t the …

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Of Making Many Books There Is No End

This past week Bowker, the company that issues ISBN numbers for published books, released their annual statistics. They broke out the numbers for self-published books and revealed a stunning statistic. (If you want the history and explanation of the ISBN, read my scintillating post on the topic here. Each country …

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Caution: Loose Platform Planks

I love learning about authors on the internet. And as a literary agent, I enjoy the internet and find connections there that would be otherwise difficult to find and maintain. But as professionals, we must be cautious about what we share on any level. One reason is that we all …

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