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How to Be A Publisher’s Favorite Author

linchpinThree years ago, Seth Godin published his book Linchpin.  Since I follow Seth’s books and blog as a personal and professional challenge, I read it and was inspired by it’s concepts.

In it, Godin speaks about some of the new realities in business relationships.  There used to be management and those who were managed.  But now, he says, there is a third group…linchpins.  These are people who make unique contributions to an organization, solve problems and make the organization better. 

To be clear, a linchpin is not someone who knows all the computer passwords and won’t tell anyone else, or the only one who knows where to find the key to the petty cash drawer. In fact, a person who bases their “indispensability” on a lot of little things is actually just the opposite…even potentially dangerous. 

If you are already published or want to be published, you should think about what sort of relationship you want to have with the publisher.

How would you become a “linchpin author” who inspires the best work from a publisher?  Other than the obvious of writing a bestseller and making them and you a lot of money, here are some ideas:

  • Know something about the publisher.  Read about their history and know who is important and what motivates them.  If you were interviewing for a job, you would learn something about the company, right?
  • Follow through on commitments.  Hit deadlines.  If you can’t, tell the publisher well in advance.  Communicate even if the publisher doesn’t.
  • Make relationship deposits. At some point you will need to make withdrawals and there needs to be something in the account.
  • Minister to the publisher.  If you are a marriage counselor, offer a free marriage seminar to the publisher staff.  If you consult ministries, offer it.  Look for a unique thing you can freely give from yourself without strings attached.
  • Be cost-conscious.  Publishers are, you should be too.  Let the publisher decide to spend $300 on dinner.
  • Contact the head of sales and marketing and ask if there anything you can do to help.  And mean it.
  • Find a book from the publisher that you really like (not one of yours) and promote it with no strings attached. You are a team player.
  • Pray for your publisher without telling them.

If you haven’t been published yet, it is never too early to devise a relationship strategy that makes you a linchpin author.  You spend time developing your marketing platform…would make sense to find ways to keep a publisher working hard for you.

Finally, in the end, your book needs to sell well in order for a publisher to continue working with you. But publishers make decisions based on money along with relationship.  If sales are borderline, the relationship might be the deciding factor.

What ideas do you have to make yourself a linchpin author?  

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Why Not Take a Chance?


Often I receive queries and proposals in which the author will say his submission is out of the box. I’m not opposed to groundbreaking work, but I have to decide what will and what won’t work for me. I am the first to admit, this process is subjective. Our own Steve Laube is routinely teased by a couple of his successful author friends he turned down. If an agent as wise as Steve Laube misses a call, everyone does. But here are a few questions I’ll answer to show why it’s not easy to sell an out-of-the-box work:

Is the economy making you more selective? It’s not helping, but in any economic environment, we agents must choose the best of the best and most marketable submissions.

But you and the editors are all friends. Why not take a chance even on work you’re not sure about? I do take the occasional chance on out-of-the-box submissions that are so stellar I’m awestruck, but I’m not often awestruck. I must be mindful that I am putting my name and The Steve Laube Agency name on every submission I send. In addition, the submissions I get behind must compete with other submissions that have been vetted by other professional agents. I would venture that the quality of agented submissions is outstanding. So getting me on board is hard, but getting the publisher on board is harder.

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Two Mistakes Made in Some Recent Book Proposals

by Steve Laube

Putting together a great book proposal takes a lot of work. I suggest writers look at them as if they were a job application, and they are. You are trying to get someone to pay you to write your book via a stellar “job application” or book proposal.

But every once in a while we get something that is not going to work, for obvious reason. Here are two mistakes:

1. Divine Attribution. Also known as the claim, “God told me to write this.” Recently we received a proposal which claimed, “I literally hear from GOD,JESUS, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.” (Capitalization and punctuation left intact.) One of the most widely read posts from our blog is titled “God Gave Me This Blog Post.” Please read the post and please avoid this mistake in the future.

I also see authors write or hear authors say, “I know you don’t like it when we say it, but I really felt inspired by God while writing this.” Trust me, I understand. In fact I believe you and don’t deny the validity of inspiration. But try not to make it sound like your book idea or sample writing is extra special because of it.

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G is for Great

by Steve Laube

“There are a lot of good manuscripts out there. What we want are those which are great.” I’ve said this may times but thought I should elaborate. Please note the following applies mostly to non-fiction projects.

When it comes to the non-fiction books that attract the major publishers I believe the author must have at least two of three “great” things:

Great Concept
Great Writing
Great Platform

Let’s look at the various combinations to see how this plays out.

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Build it Before They Come

If you want to be a published writer, realize that someone will look for you on the web. Agents will Google your name. I guarantee that editors and marketing folks will visit your web site to find out more about you.

Thus your web site needs to be both professional and effective. It is a bit like putting on your “Sunday Best” before going to an interview. That first impression is critical.

Allow me to share unscientific, subjective thoughts regarding a few elements I especially enjoy as an agent learning about writers through their web sites:

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Book Trailers: Vital or Wasteful?

Book trailers, if done well, can be a cool component to the marketing of your project. If done poorly or if done cheaply they do very little to impress a potential reader.

Most authors love to see their work done this way. In some ways if feels like the story has made it to the “big screen.”

But does it sell books? When was the last time you clicked and then bought because of the trailer?

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