Five Publishing Hurdles (And How to Clear Them)

If you’re an aspiring author, have ever wondered what happens to your book proposal after it arrives at the publishing house? Sometimes, I’m afraid, the acquisition process appears to be a sort of “black box.” Proposals are inserted into the black box and then disappear—for weeks. At some point they pop out. Most are sent back to the author with a rejection letter. A precious few actually become a book.

Runner Jumping Over a Hurdle - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/technotr, Image #7292467

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/technotr

But what happens while the proposal is inside the box?

In this post I want to describe the internal proposal review process. If you have ever wondered how in the world publishing houses decide what to publish, this post is for you.

First, you need to understand the entire proposal review process is designed to do one thing: kill all but the most worthy projects. This may be hard to accept, but you have to understand the supply of hopeful authors is infinite while the supply of publishing resources is finite. Publishers can only publish a fraction of the proposals they receive.

Therefore, every publisher employs a screening process of some sort. You might think of it as a series of hurdles a proposal must jump before it crosses the finish line and becomes a book. These hurdles may vary in number from publishing house to publishing house. But in most publishing houses there are five.

  1. The Acquisitions Editor. Acquisitions editors are the people inside the publishing house specifically charged with finding and developing authors and books that are congruent with the publisher’s mission. Over time, they have developed “noses” for the right projects. They usually see hundreds of proposals every year. Good editors can review a proposal and decide in sixty seconds or less whether it merits further consideration. If it doesn’t, then it gets tossed into the rejection pile.

    Typically, an acquisitions editor has unlimited authority to say “no.” They can reject a proposal without approval from anyone. Conversely, they don’t usually have the absolute authority to approve a proposal for publication. The most they can do is shepherd the proposal through the next step in the process.

    This is why your first objective as an author is to sell the acquisitions editor. He’s the “gatekeeper” to the publishing house. If you can’t do that, you’re dead in the water. This is the one place where you have the most control. You must develop a compelling book proposal that gets the acquisitions editor’s attention. You must demonstrate the content is compelling and there is a viable market for it.

    I recommend you start with one of my ebooks, How to Write a Winning Book Proposal. I have a version for non-fiction proposals and one for fiction. Either of these will help you clear the first hurdle.

  2. The Editorial Committee. Once you’ve convinced the acquisitions editor, he or she has to convince an Editorial Committee. This is generally the specific imprint’s in-house staff. It may consist of the publisher, other acquisitions editors, managing editors, marketing people, etc.

    This is a cynical group. They have long memories, especially about projects that didn’t work. They are a little bit like accountants. Show them the donut and the first thing they see is the hole. (I’m speaking as someone who sat on one of these committees for years.)

    The committee’s meetings are a sort of Darwinian process where only the strongest proposals survive. The participants are not looking for reasons to publish a project as much as they are looking for reasons not to publish a project.

    “It’s not very well written.” “The premise isn’t very clear.” “Books on this topic never do well.” “The author doesn’t have the necessary credentials.” And the list goes on. Believe me, there are hundreds of reasons not to publish a particular proposal.

    This is why, to the extent you can, you have to make your proposal “bullet-proof.” You must learn to anticipate the objections and make sure they are addressed in the proposal. The good news is once you have sold this group, you have a team working to clear the remaining hurdles. The goal is to get them on-board.

  3. The Publishing Board. When I was at Thomas Nelson, this was a once-a-month meeting between the editorial or publishing leaders and the sales channel leaders. The goal is for acquisitions editors to present their projects to the sales staff, so that they can get an initial reaction. The acquisitions editors are recommending these proposals, so there is an implied endorsement.

    The acquisitions editors focus on all the reasons why the book should be published. They are selling. And they are selling the most important audience to the success of your book. If the sale professionals are sold, they can sell their customers. If they can’t be sold, the book will not succeed. Period.

    Like the Editorial Committee, the sales people are also cynical but usually less so. They’ve seen it all before. The nature of publishing is that more projects fail than work, so they have lots of ready examples of why your project will fail too. But they also must have new products to sell, so they are also looking for the next big idea. They want to believe; they just have to be convinced.

    The acquisitions editor usually gets five or six minutes to pitch your project to the Publishing Board. He may have contacted you for supporting material to help him do the best job possible. It’s not unusual for the acquisitions editor to play a short video clip, pass out a press kit, or show a Web site on the projector.

    Regardless, if you get asked for additional material do everything in your power to get the editor what he needs. He will be representing you, and he only gets one shot at it. You need to help him cast your proposal in the best possible light.

    The project will then be discussed for another few minutes. Then each sales channel leader “votes” on the project by writing down how many books he thinks he can “lay down” (the initial shipment) and then sell in the first six months to a year. (It depends on the type of product. Some have shorter expected life cycles than others.) This is important, because the higher the sales forecast, the higher the probability of your book being published.

    This is not a long process, as you can see. The whole presentation and discussion rarely takes more than ten minutes. Then the proposal moves to the next hurdle.

  4. The Financial Pro Forma. Today, no successful publisher can afford to make a decision to publish a book without considering the financial impact. The investment is just too significant.

    The publisher has to consider how much he will have to offer as a royalty advance, how much he will have to pay the author in royalties, and what he will have to spend on marketing and inventory. In addition, he must look at the sales forecasts by channel, since each channel has it’s own discount structure, return rates, and overhead structure.

    All of these variables get plugged into a very sophisticated financial pro forma. It usually takes a few iterations to get it right, but the publisher will quickly assess the investment required, the break-even point, and the profit he will make, given specific variables. Based on this, the publisher will know whether or not the project is financially (or commercially) viable. Assuming it is, the project still must clear one final hurdle.

  5. The Publisher’s Sign-Off. Just because the project has cleared the first four hurdles, does not guarantee the book will be published. The publisher has to make the final call. He considers other, more subjective issues: Do I like this project? Do I like the author? Do I like his or her agent? Am I willing to risk this much capital, given the other things we have already committed to? How will my other authors react to this title? Do I really need this title?

    In addition, if the project is big enough, it may require the publisher’s boss to sign-off on the project or perhaps even the CEO. Most publishing houses have various approval levels. If the project exceeds a certain person’s approval level, then it must go up the chain-of-command.

    Once the project has been approved by the publisher, the acquisitions editor will then have the authority to make a formal offer to the author or (more likely) the author’s agent.

Once you understand this process, you can see why the decision to approve a project for publication takes four to six weeks. Yes, it can be fast-tracked when necessary. This often happens with bigger projects where several publishing houses are competing for the same project. But, by and large, it works better if it is not compressed. This process—long as it may seem—is necessary to get the internal buy-in necessary for the entire publishing house to get behind the project.

I have not written this post to discourage you from traditional publishing. Instead, I have written it to empower you. Now that you know what goes on inside the black box called publishing, you can take four specific steps to ensure you clear all five hurdles:

  1. Write a killer proposal. This is the foundation of every successful project. You will need this to enlist the support of an agent. Your agent will need it to attract interest from acquisitions editors. It will be used to clear each hurdle in the process.
  2. Listen to your agent. Remember, your agent doesn’t get paid until your project is sold. If he has survived for more than a few years, it is because he knows how to get from point A to point B. Therefore, treat him like a trusted guide.
  3. Cooperate with your editor. Do everything you can to comply with the acquisition editor’s requests. Once he agrees to present the project to the Editorial Committee, he has become your representative inside the publishing house. You have to equip him to succeed.
  4. Be patient. The process takes a while. Hopefully, this post has helped you understand why. There is more happening inside the publishing house than you may have initially thought.

Whatever you do, don’t act entitled. You’re not. No publisher has an obligation to publish your work. In essence, you are the seller; publishers are the buyers. You’re job is to convince them that taking a chance on your book is in their best economic interest.

Hopefully, this knowledge will help you clear the hurdles and get your book into print.

Question: How does my description of the process compare to how you thought it worked? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    The whole process seems rather daunting to an aspiring author.  I appreciate the information though.  It helps to be realistic, but it also helps to be prepared.  Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It can be daunting. I think the whole process is almost designed to weed out all but the determined. It is similar in the music business, comedy, even politics.

      • http://www.activechristianmedia.com/ Stacy Harp

         And don’t forget the counseling field…. I think going through grad school, clinical training, supervision, insane clients and more, just to be considered “worthy” and “qualified” to be a counselor, rates up there… :)  Just sayin’.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Yes, knowing this helps me to feel like I can be prepared for the process. That is reassuring. 

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      Look at it as an opportunity to buckle down and see what you need to do to be a better writer. 

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       I agree Jon. But as we have witnessed, it is possible. Armed with the information provided in this post, you’re more prepared than most authors.

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

    Everything in the publishing process makes sense because of the money, work, and reputation that are involved in getting a book out to the world. Since the premise of my book is a little outside of the mission statements of most agents and publishers, I knew up-front that I would need to self-publish. I’m just thankful for the progress in technology that has been made to make self-publishing financially viable and fairly easy to do. Thanks for letting us know the ins and outs of the publishing world.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      What are the challenges you’ve found in self-publishing, Patricia? I am all for this, but I have met many authors who were unprepared for the amount of work it involved.

      • http://twitter.com/JohnHarris3 John Harris

        I’m on my third proof with CreateSpace and you are correct on the amount of work involved. As a professional writer with a Fortune 100 firm, I was not surprised at what I had to do to self publish, but I know someone not familiar with writing, editing, page layout, etc., could be overwhelmed. And don’t get me started on formatting for Kindle! But I think if someone wants to self publish, the key would be to hire freelance editors and designers. They won’t cost much and will add a lot of value in the process.

        • http://twitter.com/JohnHarris3 John Harris

          P.S. – People who have seen the printed proof of my book are always shocked: they expect a sub-par product but it’s not. The key will be in the premise of the book and the writing. 

          • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

            I read your blog post. I think you’re right. 

            I’ve read John T. Reed’s “How To Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How To Book”. I’m going to follow his model if I ever come up with an idea for a book. He has an interesting discussion on why you don’t want a best seller.

          • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

            John –

            I’m guessing you have a well-designed cover. Too many self-publishers seem to believe that the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” actually applies to them…

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          I applaud you for putting such excellence into your project. Some think self-publishing is the easier, faster alternative to traditional publishing. But those who do it right realize the exact opposite!

      • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

        One benefit I’ve heard of self-publishing, especially electronic self-publishing, is you can set a different length. Traditionally published books seem to require 200-300 or so pages. That can take a lot of work. I’ve read plenty of books where the author seems to blabber a lot just to fill up space. Pastors and motivational speakers seem to be the worst offenders, but others are guilty of it. I’ve reached the point where I rarely read books written by pastors anymore. I spend far too much time screaming “Get to the point!” when I read books by pastors.

        If you can efficiently cover your topic in 50 pages, a .pdf is a great format. Robert Bly says you can charge $29-$59 for this depending on the value delivered.

        One thing I struggle with in this format though is the perception of value. I can get a 300 page book for $10 in some cases, so $40 for a 57 page .pdf is something I struggle with.

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          I’ve balked at the price of several self-published ebooks that piqued my interest. I confess to spending $25+ for 10-20 page books that offered a wealth of actionable content. While initially skeptical, I’ve never regretted my purchases.

          Self-publishing offers the flexibility to sell works to niche markets that big publishing houses wouldn’t touch.

        • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

          I recently checked out the website of someone offering a bargain sale (“only $97!”) for a collection of ebooks. 

          One of the first sentences on the website caught my eye because it contained 5 punctuation/usage errors. I e-mailed to ask if the ebooks had been professionally edited or if the website was an indication of her books’ quality.

          She responded that the sentence was worded exactly the way she wanted it. I probably should have backed off, but I didn’t. I e-mailed again and pointed out the five errors. She responded with a “have a nice life” e-mail.

          So is “hype” the new name of the game? Get a ton of followers, build a flashy website, use lots of exclamation points, and you won’t have to worry about “precision of language” any more?  (An allusion to The Giver…feels like far too many dystopian authors are being proven right, these days!)

          • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

            That is a definite problem with self-published authors. Objective reviews are VERY hard to find. There are a couple I trust implicitly, and others I come across their web copy sounds good, but I’m afraid to pull the trigger on purchasing the book.

            I came across one self-published eBook that was recommended by somebody I do trust (Bob Bly), and also had a recommendation from none other than Michael S. Hyatt. I haven’t bought that book yet, but I think I’m safe trusting the author.

            It also leaves me a little worried that when I eventually put a book together, how do I go about building a reputation if I self-publish it?

          • jimmartin

            I have bought a few self-published e-books.  Most of the time I have been happy with the purchase.  However, the other day I purchased one and then thought “This is it?”  I wish I could have found more objective reviews.

          • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

            I heard there used to be a place called the “Warrior Forum” where you could get reviews of information products. It didn’t appear to be active the last time I checked.

          • http://www.activechristianmedia.com/ Stacy Harp

             Eric – the Warrior Forum is still active, all the people over there have done is start selling their gigs on Fiverr.  They set up a Fiverr gig to format a Kindle ebook, or do a cheesy book cover and then they send all of their information with links back to the Warrior Forum and then they send you a daily email with all of their other gigs and “tips” which all go back to the Warrior Forum.  They are alive and well on Twitter also. :)  Ask me how I know this….

          • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

            I think hype has alot to do with it, but the model of building a blog, developing ebooks, and growing both works equally well for those with good writing skills.

      • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

        The actual work involved was not that hard, especially since I’m an English teacher. The company I used to self-publish was wonderful and led me step-by-step through the process. Since I already had a header for my blog, the company designer was able to use that concept for my book cover. We worked together on the type and size of the font until we found one that was easy to read. We passed the copy back and forth several times before I was satisfied with it.

        The hardest part of self-publishing–as you have frequently warned  us of–is the marketing. Since I am cloistered in a small town and am committed to demanding job, I am being challenged in finding ways for my book to become known. I do realize that for it to be successful in reaching readers with a fresh perspective of God’s absolute love, I am going to need some open doors–doors that I probably haven’t even seen yet. So, I am standing on Isaiah 40:31 and believing that God will make the way for my book. I’m also believing that, if I am faithful to accomplish the work He has already set before me, He will be faithful to guide me to the place I need to be in order for my book become known.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I have read about self-publishing. How is the process different?

      • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com/ Patricia Zell

        The biggest difference is a writer does not have to put together a book proposal; he or she can just write the book. However–and this is a big However–the book should be thoroughly edited because producing a book that has been just thrown together will be counter-productive. (Once a reader has been disappointed in an author’s writing, that reader will probably never read anything else by the author.)

        I also think a writer should be extremely careful about the company he or she chooses. When I was looking for a publisher, I had one all picked out until I googgled its name and found some bad reviews. I then to Writer’s Digest and read an article on self-publishing where they actually named a company. I chose that publisher and the company lived up to what was promised. I have been pleased with every service I purchased.

        A caveat here–I am a teacher, so my day job pays our bills. Self-publishing my book has not been about money. I was able to give a big discount to bookstores, so my “profit” on each book is not that big. The success of my book will measured by the joy it brings to its readers. 

        • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

          This was very helpful! Thank you!

        • http://www.activechristianmedia.com/ Stacy Harp

           Yeah, like Xulon Press…they are horrible.  A number of years ago when I started my company and I was receiving review copies from authors, most of them were from Xulon Press and they were HORRIBLE.  Then I found out from many publicists at major publishing houses that Xulon Press was immediately nixed and discarded whenever they received a pitch from one of their authors.  I have to admit, if I get a press release from someone, even today, seven years later, and it’s from Xulon Press….I hit the delete button. 

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I can sense the ruthless industry of publishing through this post. Especially, in a country like India, it’s more difficult for a new & prospective authors to get their proposals accepted. Sometimes, creative work of aspiring authors get rejected outright without any reason. Thanks for the wonderful steps  you presented to overcome the hurdles in publishing our work.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? I think of writing a book like running a marathon. I LOVE the idea of being a runner, but the 4-5 hours hitting the pavement doesn’t sound like fun at all!

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Agreed Michele! Whether it is writing a book or living our life — it is running a marathon! Peristence is the key. We should never give up in the mid way.
        It is important to resist the temptation to give up andwe should persevere to reach the end goal. So, Michele, let us hold on ‘holding on’.

        Subject: [mhyatt] Re: Five Publishing Hurdles (And How to Clear Them)

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          I’m with you, Uma!

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    To be honest, my initial reaction while reading the first few paragraphs wasn’t positive! If the proposal review process is intended to kill and if the acquisitions editor decides to do it perfectly within 60 seconds, what else gives me hope? However the latter four steps do give me hope! Seriously, thanks Michael for the inside story and for speaking the truth in love. I intend to do my best!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I really struggled with those first few paragraphs. But I think if you know what you are up against, you can work hard to overcome it. Hang in there!

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Thanks for the encouragement! But I didn’t know it was that difficult. So this post is an eye-opener for me to take writing more seriously and do it skillfully and excellently.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I felt the same way. I do feel like I can be prepared though as long as I put in the proper amount of time and effort into my project. Are you currently working on a book?

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        I am currently learning how to do an E-book. I plan to bring out an E-book for my blog’s new subscribers.

        • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

          That’s awesome! 

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    Wow the whole process seems so cut-throat but in reality, anything of significant value must be tested. Think about the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ or the tests of refinement of our motives and actions when we get to the Judgement seat of Christ.
    In conclusion, I can see that any high quality publishing company is going to have a ‘Black Box’ team.

    • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

      Perhaps blogs really are the way of the future! You can hone your skill and grow your user base before taking the step to being Published.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Yes, and this is super-helpful. Publishers today want to know you have great content AND a platform.

        • http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com/ Live with Flair

          Michael, this is an awesome post!  Thank you so very much.  In regards to the blog response, how many followers do you think is “significant” as a platform?  If Live with Flair has 200,000 views and 100o readers a day, is that considered a platform?  What kind of readership would catch a publisher’s attention?  Also, would a self-published book with good sales help my chances? 

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            If you have 1,000 readers a day, yes, that is a platform—especially if they are engaged. A self-published book won’t hurt your chances and could help, particularly if the sales numbers are decent.

      • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

        I have heard it put this way. If you take the traditional publishing route, your publisher will want you to maintain a blog to keep visible and to grow your platform. If you take the self publishing route, then you will want yourself to have a blog to market and sell your book. Either way, there is a blog.

      • Rachel Lance

        I think a blog is a smart move for a few reasons. What Michael and Jeremy have already said is huge, a blog acts almost like a vetting portfolio for agents and publishers. But I also see the blog as an exercise to build your own discipline and writing abilities and maintain the platform and audience necessary to entertain a published work. The kind of work that goes into a good blog will feed well into the kind of work and process that will serve well during the publishing process. 
        Mountain climbers don’t jump immediately to aiming for the summit of Mt. McKinley and likewise I think a writer should work up to taking on the publishing process. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Well said. Anything of value requires testing. Most of the time I want the positive results without the extended effort. ;)

  • Mark Kingston

    At the risk of starting up an old argument, this post reminded me of Seth Godin’s argument that traditional publishing is dead (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/08/moving-on.html). 

    I know you posted a response to Seth, Michael (http://michaelhyatt.com/why-most-authors-should-not-emulate-seth-godin.html), but having read your post today on how the ‘traditional publishing’ machine works, I have to say that I’m with Seth! 

    Surely it makes more sense invest limited time and money getting to know your audience, building a following and looking at self publishing options (including the iBook platform for example) than investing a lot of time in a system that seems designed to keep you out – and even if you are successful, seems to want to remove as much control from the you, the author as possible? 

    A big publishing deal might be an ideal, but its seems an increasingly unlikely for most of us.  Perhaps the publishing industry is heading the same way as the music industry. You can hope and pray for that elusive record deal, or you can get on with building your tribe and use social platforms to sell your work…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Traditional publishing and self-publishing are both legitimate options, depending on your goals. But don’t be fooled, both require a lot of work. You eliminate some problems with each, but you have to do what you are getting into. Thanks.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    I’ve never realized all that goes into publishing a book. So many of us have dreams of doing so, I guess the only way to find out is to do it and go through the process.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Knowing all this information gives us the ability to be as prepared as absolutely possible. Are you working on making that dream a reality?

      • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

        Definitely Brandon, the remainder of this year is dedicated to my first book. This is great insight into what’s needed.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Exciting! Keep us posted on your progress, Lincoln.

    • Rachel Lance

      This post, from Michael’s unique perspective is so helpful when evaluating potential goals. Now I can ask myself if I truly have the passion required to drive this dream into reality. If not, then perhaps the goal needs to wait for a different season. 

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    Great list. This reminds me that part of an author’s job is to essentially win over an acquisitions editor and to basically provide a book concept that can be easily communicated in a meeting. The former editor at Harper Studio once said that he thinks an excellent title is essential for a book proposal. The need for a succinct explanation of the book at a meeting like that drives home just how important it is to distill a book’s ideas into something that is easy to present. 

    This is more of an exception than a rule for your list, but books can be cancelled anywhere along the process. I had a book deal with a publisher (I even wrote the first draft), but the book was part of a new line. When the recession hit in 2008, they cancelled that line of books in 2009, my editor, my project, and everything else he’d acquired. That may be on the rare end of things, but my sense is that it’s not a sure thing until the book is in my hands! 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      How disappointing! You’re so right … the process can be interrupted at any point. I have a friend who experienced the very same. As writers we pursue our dreams with fervency, but hold on to the projects loosely.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    Love it!

    We live in a day when everything is sold as EASY. A day when everyone expects their dream to be rewarded because of its scope.

    Last week I met with a man who has “the next greatest app the world cannot live without.” He promised investors that their $100K would turn into $1 mil by year’s end. (No, I am not making this up.)

    “Let’s see your marketing plan. Where do you get these projections?” I asked.

    “If you’re asking if I have a plan written out, no I don’t” he said. And then, I kid you not, he tapped head. “But it’s all up here.”

    Meeting adjourned.

    Michael, if entrepreneurs would put their business plan through the same rigorous process as book publishers the percentage of failures would plummet.

    That’s for the view from behind the curtain!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Paul. I meet these kinds of entrepreneurs all the time too. Thankfully, most of them don’t get funded without learning the discipline of planning and hard work.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    That sounds very intimidating, but by the same token it sounds like the publishing company has a model for success if they follow this.

    My question would be, given the rise of self-publishing options, how does an aspiring author take the best parts of this process to improve his/her book?  

    I can only believe that if an author successfully makes it through the publisher gauntlet their books are the better for it.  Improving would seem to be in the interest of those who self publish too.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thad, great question. I think that an aspiring author who chooses to self-publish needs to really hone in on the marketing and business side of the book. Before I start my next project, I think I’m going to work hard to develop my own editorial committee. We really need a group of people who review our work and help us to focus our thinking.

      • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

        I agree Jason.  Just because self-publishing can happen doesn’t mean it will result in quality output.  I like your suggestion of a personal editorial committee.  While I am not an author, I can see the value in that.

      • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

        I like the idea of developing an editorial committee. That would really help our work to come out better.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003158350837 Jeremiah M Zeiset

      Thad, you are right on. My company entered the Christian publishing market as a hybrid publishing house, somewhere between a self-publishing house and a traditional publishing house, with a goal of helping Christian authors reach their audience with their message.

      We’ve seen an amazing correlation between the quality of content and the success of a books sales. The number one most important thing an author can do? Make sure your book is professionally story and copy edited. Not just by hiring an editor, but by hiring a tried and true editor, or by publishing through a company like ours.

      We’ve firmly believe that 75% of a book’s success is based on how well a books is written. The other very important thing an author must do is extensively research both how to write, and concerning the subject of his book. Depth of content is very important.

      Sales will compound based on content – readers will tell others, and social media is your friend if you wrote a good book, and had a professional edit it – large publishing will edit a book up to 6 times, using a different editor each time – it matters!

      Jeremiah Zeiset
      LIFE SENTENCE Publishing

  • http://soulfari.blogspot.com/ Jay Cookingham

    Extremely helpful post…I’m in the  “The Editorial Committee” phase right now and it can be really stressful. Your insight with the rest of the process will help me deal with that. Thanks!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Making it past the first hurdle is a huge accomplishment, Jay. So while your in the middle of your stress, make sure you savor your success. Congrats!

      • http://soulfari.blogspot.com/ Jay Cookingham

        Thanks Michele…I am starting to enjoy my progress so far!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    After self publishing and talking with many successful authors who went the traditional publishing route, the whole process of getting your finished book to market is daunting. The one thing that I have seen work, is to build your platform and your tribe so well that publishers are coming to you to publish your book. Successful bloggers and authors will tell you that they make a LOT more money with affiliate sales, ebooks, and digital products than a  book from a major publisher.

    If your goal is to make a living writing, building your platform will offer a lot more opportunities than just sitting back and hoping that your manuscript will make it through the “black box” of a traditional publisher. After all, you can’t sell rejection letters and put food on the table.

    That’s why I can’t wait for your new book to come out. “Platform” will be the textbook that changes the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs, writers, and small business people.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I agree, John. It might be better to initially focus more on tribe building than actually writing a book.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        I think it is. I’ve found that blogging and platform building has helped me see what my audience wants. I have be astonished at what attracts traffic and what doesn’t. Blogging can also help you become a better writer, since to be successful you need to write on a regular basis.

        • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

          I agree with what you said about blogging. It not only creates a tribe but also makes one a better writer.

          • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

            I hope that is true.  One of my goals for the year is to be consistent in blogging, both in terms of quantity and quality.

          • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

            Great goal, Thad! All the best.

          • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

            Finally started reading (okay, listening to) Tribes this weekend! I’m feeling a paradigm shift in motion…

          • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

            It works!

          • Jim Martin

            Joe, I think you are exactly right on both counts.

          • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

            Thanks, Jim.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. Your emphasis is exactly correct.

  • Michael Mulligan

    Michael,  the publishing world seems to be changing at light speed.   I’m just wondering if it would be better  to delay the hurdles and go the cross-country route (independent publishing) as an intermediate step.  Do you think a self-published author with proven marketing/business skills and a large audience would lessen the risk for “buyers” or would participating in this activity devalue the writer in the buyers eyes?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Self-publishing today does not de-value you. If you go that route, you will still have option of traditional publishing later.

  • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

    Michael, what are your thoughts on self-publishing? I can see the traditional channels being good for established, well-known authors and personalities, but it seems like the deck is stacked heavily against the newbie. I can see there are good reasons for that.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnHarris3 John Harris

    I’ve got a better way to beat these hurdles: self publish. Even if Thomas Nelson or another major publisher agrees to take your book, they are still expecting the author to get a platform, market, and sell the book. (Actually, they won’t take you if you don’t already have a platform.) They are not going to roll out the red carpet unless your book is a rare find. If I can work smart, I can make up for some of the advantages of a traditional publisher.

    I am on my third printed proof and then will self publish my book through CreateSpace. Yes, a traditional publisher would have provided more value (e.g., better cover, tighter writing), but I don’t think the shortcomings will harm my readership.

    The real work I will have to do is marketing and selling my book. But I’d rather spend this year actually selling my book instead of working to find an agent. 

    http://www.fivestonefight.com/2012/01/23/why-self-publishing-my-book-is-the-right-path/

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      So what would be some of the challenges a self-publisher would face and how would one overcome those?

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    Most people outside of the industry believe getting published is easy. So many people have said to me, “You should write a book” with no knowledge of the tedious process.  It’s not enough to have an idea with mass appeal if you can’t write well. And if you write well, but your story (while important to you) has limited marketing appeal that is another hurdle. It really does take a perfect storm to make it happen. And even then, there is no guarantee that your published book will be successful (in financial terms).
    Thanks for spelling this out. I plan on “bookmarking” this one.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      “So many people have said to me, ‘You should write a book’ with no knowledge of the tedious process. ”

      So true!

      Once someone learns I’m a writer, they assume that I naturally write better and faster than anyone else. A former principal once asked me to “just dash out” an important letter for him (to be sent to all parents) in 15 minutes. I told him I’d need 3 hours. “It would only take me 30 minutes!” he protested. 

      I assured him that if anything I wrote was going public, I would need time to go through multiple revisions. 

      “I don’t know why you’re making this unnecessarily difficult!” was his parting shot. 

      I don’t think we make it unnecessarily difficult…we just understand the kind of work good writing requires.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Cheri – Someone who gets it! Only other writers can really understand writers. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      “A perfect storm.” Love it.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Most people think that you just write a book, get it published, and it magically appears at Barnes and Noble or on the rack at Costco. This naturally means you’ll be making lots of money and not have to work again. Reality is a little more sobering. The average published book sells 5000 copies. The average self published book, sells less than 100. Not exactly the career path most people were expecting. 

      In Hollywood you find a lot of starving actors waiting tables, hoping for that break that will send them to stardom. Many writers wait by the mailbox, waiting for that big advance and book deal. It might be better for both groups to build their own platform and tribe, and then go about creating media.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Great advice, John. It reminds me of a person I knew who said they were going to write a book and sell 20,000 copies. I shared the statistic that the average published book only sells 5,000 copies and he said, “okay, well maybe my book will only sell 10,000.” Ha! Gotta love it.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve thought the same thing, Kelly. Many writers (including me at first!) are disappointed by the fact that they can’t just “write.” They have to build community, understand the market, discern culture needs, and become a sales person. It’s anything but easy.

  • Patricia Sherrett-Gonzalez

    While I never deluded myself into thinking that it was all easy sailing, I am however very fortunate to have received this information. While the whole process  seems to loom menacingly like an angry monster guarding the entrance to its cave, at the same time it offers me the privileged opportunity to study the habits and mind of the monster. The study might well prove that he is not quite as vicious as he appears. His snarls and the baring of his fangs tell me that he has something precious to protect. I do not want to destroy what he protects, but rather I want to help him protect it even better by what I believe I can  offer. What God allows no man can disallow.

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    It sounds like a writer seeking publication – traditional or self – will be wise to take Step 1: Write a Killer Proposal.

    Developing a that clear premise, anticipating/addressing those objections, and finding out exactly what is “all up here” are diciplines that will improve the quality of the end product, regardless of how the book is ultimately published.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, so true. That’s where it begins!

    • Rachel Lance

      You’re right, Cheri. Keyword: disciplines!

  • Rob Sorbo

    I can understand how tough that editorial crew can be. I’m an editor and I feel like I’m constantly taking the ax to things! (I’m fighting the urge to mark all the typos I saw! I guess I just can’t turn off!)

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com/ Cynthia Herron

    Thank you for speaking the truth. Many times, people mistakenly think that once you become agented, you’re done. While it’s true you’re on your way, that’s only one very-important step in the multi-layered process. The real work has just begun.

    Blessings!

  • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    Thank you for offering a window into the publishing process. I have a couple of book ideas, and this really helps me to focus my thinking. Great post.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6WI3S4V7QRU43JWJHCEIXDJBC4 Margaret

    This was eye-opening. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    • Jim Martin

      Margaret, you describe the way many of us apparently felt as we read Michael’s post today.  It was eyeopening and gave great clarity to the publishing process.

  • http://www.ivanhoesanchez.com Ivanhoe Sánchez

    Michael, this post made me laugh. I can see my work as as a Salesperson for a small Publishing House reflected on it.  Many times I’ve seen how new authors want to jump all four hurdles at once or act as if the Publishing House owes something to them. I will forward this post to some want-to-be-authors friends so that they can have a realistic view of the process in advance. 

  • Laura Krokos

    This is so helpful, thank you!!

  • Ed Murrell

    There are a lot of good traditional publishers still out there. All you need is one “yes.” In a sense, the author is in the driver’s seat.

  • http://twitter.com/squaresevenbret Bret Snyder

    Thanks Michael – wouldn’t be easy if it was for everyone.  Helpful information and it’s time to start the steps.  Maybe a post in the furute that goes over the steps as one is starting to put his/her material out on paper?  Steps from finding an agent to the points you speak of here?  Thanks again.

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    Once again, you share with us your insights and gifts, to help.  Thank you!  

    Imagine how much smoother it would be for publishers if aspiring writers would follow these tips!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    This is great information to keep in mind!  My book is still in the early stages of creation, and I have a lot yet to do before I even think of publishing (I think).  But this information will help me when I think I’m ready for that step.

    My question is this:  when do I need to start communications with the publisher?  When my manuscript is ready?  Sooner?  Now?  I’ve got a great book on leadership in the works, but I don’t know when to take that step.  Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You first need an agent. If it’s non-fiction (as yours appears to be), you need a proposal not a manuscript. You might want to read my post, Advice to First-Time Authors.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I’ll check that out.  Thanks! 

        Any recomendations on where to start looking for an agent?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Start here.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Thanks!

  • The Master Communicator

    Great explanation Michael.  I appreciate the revealing look  into the black box of conventional publishing.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I always knew that it was difficult to get a book published and now I know why! There are a lot of steps. While that can seem really discouraging, it really isn’t. This ensures that great books make it through, and I like to read great books (although I do wonder how some books that I have read make it). This is good to know as I continue to work on my book as well as my proposal!

  • Ann Cassin

    Your columns often uplift my day!  Thank you for more excellent advice.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Love the inside scoop on this. This came at a perfect time. My post scheduled for tomorrow is titled, “How Michael Hyatt Helped Me Get a Book Deal.” 

    For anyone who hasn’t purchased “How To Write a Winning Book Proposal” yet, stop procrastinating and do it. An amazing investment into your writing career!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I’m seriously considering it in the near future.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome. I can’t wait to read it!

  • Anonymous

    Authors have been as guilty as publishers of trying to keep an old, out-dated model alive.  If we approach the publisher as a business partner rather than a savior it would lead to more realistic and better results.  I have a book due for a September release with a major publisher – but our contract is very unlike the old days of everyone holding their breath.  We are in this together.  I have built a significant platform that we will be using to launch the book.  And I know the publisher has contacts for sales and media exposure that I could never get.  If we are successful I will be rewarded far beyond what an author normally is.  If the book is a bomb, the publisher won’t be deeply in the hole because of some unrealistic model on the front end.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Thanks for sharing Dan! It is always exciting to hear from someone that is pushing for changing and getting it.

      BTW, can’t wait for your new book to be released! The inspiration you’ve provided to me has been invaluable. Thank you Dan.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This comment represents the new kind of partnership that works for both parties. Thanks for leading the way, Dan. You inspire me.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Right on, Dan!  This is the message that I hear preached by Michael, Rachelle Gardner, and even Seth Godin.   As a guy with a business history (not a writing history) this makes perfect sense to me.   The writer has got to be willing to take an owner’s level of risk and share the rewards with others who help make the project happen.  This “new” model is how any other start-up business would work.    
      Congrats on leading the field!

  • http://infinitecharacters.com/ Connie Almony

    Thank you for this. Yet another reminder to dig my heels in for the long slog that is trying to get published. I have to say though, since I’ve started the process, I’ve found I appreciate the Fruits of the Spirit Paul talks about more, so I can’t say it’s been an ugly process. Just hard. But good hard.

    • Jim Martin

      Connie, I wish you the very best in your quest to get published.  You are right.  This post is a reminder that much hard work is involved.

  • http://www.mattandjesskelley.blogspot.com/ Jessica Miller Kelley

    I’ve been an acquisitions editor and now edit print and web periodicals that LOVE to help authors promote their work. From both positions, my advice is “don’t burn bridges.” These people want to help you. If they don’t today, they may in the future. Don’t ruin your chances in the future by being rude or snooty today.

    • Jim Martin

      Jessica, this is good advice regarding not burning bridges.  As is often true in life when we do this, we only hurt ourselves.

  • http://twitter.com/kennyholloway kennyholloway

    Writing what people want to consume like books and songs seems like the ideal place to be.  Conversely, my writing talent is in writing the stuff that nobody wants to read like sales letters, whitepapers, ad copy, etc…

    The process here really emphasizes the other half of the book…the half nobody wants to read – the proposal; the pitch materials. I would love to see a post that reveals how authors like me (writing the stuff nobody wants to read) are connected with authors that write the things that people pay to read.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       While people may not want to read ad-copy and whitepapers, they contain valuable information. If you’re able to portray the information in a way that catches people’s attention you will be a desired writer.

  • http://jeffwaskowiak.wordpress.com/ Jeff Waskowiak

    The things that look daunting at first are usually the things that once completed are the most rewarding. I loved reading the details of the process. Very interesting!

  • Ramon Presson

    This is a very helpful sequential description.  Even as a published author of many books it has been a bit of a mystery as to what happens behind the scenes.  It sorta reminded me of what satirist Will Rogers once said: “You wouldn’t want to see how laws or sausage are made.” 

    But every step as you’ve laid it out not only makes sense but is clearly necessary, especially in the challenged and changing publishing industry now. I will be sharing this with a lot of current and aspiring authors I know.  Thank you!

    • Jim Martin

      As one who has tried to figure out how this work, it is nice to have Michael remove much of the mystery.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

    As I am about to begin engaging in this process, this post proves quite helpful.  Thanks for the insights into the publishing side of things and I’m glad that I have a “trusted guide” to help navigate through all of the hurdles with me.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Kurt, we’re glad you found the information helpful. Please let us know if/when your book gets through!

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

        @jmlalonde:disqus … thanks! This blog has been helpful in both building my platform and in thinking about “publishing strategy.”  I will certainly keep you in the loop!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I figured that there was a long process but it seems even more convoluted than I imagined.  It makes me admire those that make it through the process even more than I did before.

  • Anonymous

    It truly seems that getting a book published is not for the faint of heart.

    No wonder that not everyone can do it.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      That fact has increased my admiration of newly published authors!

  • http://www.charlesspecht.com/ Charles Specht

    This is an absolutely awesome article.  
    Having written a manuscript myself, submitted it to a few dozen agents and small publishers…and having received more than my fair share of declinations, it is now clear just how many times a manuscript needs to be “sold” before it ever has a chance to hit the bookstore.  Thank you for this article.  It is both discouraging but encouraging!

    • Jim Martin

      This is an excellent article.  While the process seems daunting, it is helpful to understand exactly how this process works and why.

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    That’s why many are choosing the self publishing route. Better to build you own platform and have people come to you. That’s what Jeff Goins did.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Kimanzi,
      Do you think it’s more difficult to do it that way? I wonder, because the process is so difficult, if there is something to really be proud of by making it through to the other side? Just thinking out-loud.

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        I guess it’s a matter of personal choice. I’m blessed to have been able to go it the self publishing route and sell a few books.I would love a contract but I don’t think I could go through that whole process. So yeah, it is a amazing accomplishment to get through all of that.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Although daunting, the process is equally as necessary for the author as the publisher. We writers are notorious for having a new burning idea every other day! And quite honestly, it’s difficult to discern at times whether we’re motivated by the message or the prospect of fame. The process forces us to wrestle with the value of our message while beating down less-than-worthy motives.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is SO important, Michele. You should write a blog post on this topic. Too many writers miss the benefit of the process.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        I’m on it!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Ouch! (in a good way) Michelle, I am with you. However, In my humble humble opinion, and I think you will agree, I don’t think the motives are ever that cut and dry, right? Very rarely do you find a writer who will simply say, “I am in it for the fame.” but our “motives and muses” (I am going to write something with this title)  get mixed up into a frenzy and our job is to peel them away and truthfully examine them.  I SO want to have a pure heart and be honest with myself—It’s been a challenge for me—for sure.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        I do agree … Motives are about as difficult to nail down as a wet fish. Usually our overall intent is good, but hidden motives and drives can be sneaky. That’s why I think a little “testing” is always good, including the long, drawn-out writing and publishing process. It’s what helps separates the wheat from the chaff in my content and character.

  • Robert Treskillard

    This is a great summary, Mike, and true to life in my own experience. 

    From the perspective of an aspiring author, it appears amazing that *anyone* gets published.  The fact is, though, that publishers have to find the next batch of books to sell, and so some projects will get approved. That’s the hope and encouragement that every author needs to persevere.  It does happen, so keep writing!

    • Jim Martin

      That is a great question, Rob.   Surely name recognition does me something.  It is interesting how some authors can produce books that consistently excellent.  Meanwhile, other authors seem to produce books that are very mixed in their quality.

  • Rob Sorbo

    How much does an author’s name recognition factor in? I’ve read a few horrible books from well-liked authors, and I often wonder how those books ever got published.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It counts for a lot because it makes it easier to get people’s attention. It’s no guarantee that the book will continue selling but it does help with the first challenge of marketing: visibility.

    • Jim Martin

      You make an interesting point Rob.  It is interesting how the work of some writers is consistently excellent while the work of others is very mixed.

  • Carmenerichards

    Michael thanks for the details of the process. I knew it was near impossible, but you provided  hope and showed a realistic attempt may be made with an excellent proposal. My take-away: Create the best proposal possible. I do have our e-books and thank you for providing those tools. Blessings, Carmen E. Richards

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Carmen,
      I found Michael’s e-book really helpful, too.  Also, I am with you—it’s way better to know the steps and process—as scary and time consuming as it may be.

  • http://releasingmetoday.com/ Deeone Higgs

    This was a very informative article, Micheal. It is still a little too early for me to put these practices into practice, but I believe when the time comes for me to jump over those publishing hurdles, this article will fully have me equipped to do so. Thank you for sharing these remarkable tips of the trade. 

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    A couple weeks ago I purchased your How To Write A Winning Book Proposal and would recommend it to anyone! Thanks to your step-by-step instructions, insight and examples my first book proposal is nearly finished. Your posts and e-book give me so much motivation!

    I’ll be holding the insight in this post over my book proposal like a magnifying glass.

    One thing I know is that I’ll be rejoicing so much more with my author friends when they publish a book now that I’m aware of behind the scenes. Thanks for opening up the editors door and allowing us to peek in :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words. You made my day. (And it just started!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.n.marcus Michael N. Marcus

    After having two books published by “traditional publishers,” I’m much happier with the books from my own tiny publishing company.

  • http://chrisvonada.com chris vonada

    Survival of the fittest… thanks for sharing this enlightenment Michael!!

  • http://www.activechristianmedia.com/ Stacy Harp

    This is definitely an article I will save and refer others to.  I get asked constantly about this and so it’s cool to have an insider resource.  Thanks MH for all the info! :)

  • Deena Safari

    Well, one thing’s for sure: I’ll probably need a new set of fingernails when I finally get to this point. Luckily, I’m still just drafting. ;-P Thanks for the info!

  • http://www.andrewsobel.com/ Andrew Sobel

    I’ve just published my fourth business book (“Power Questions”/Wiley & Sons) and I believe the most important thing an author has to do is build his or her following. In a sense, you need an installed base of readers who like your writing already and who will purchase your book when it comes out. Otherwise it will disappear. After all, who will find it among millions of other titles? Yes, occasionally there is an that extraordinarily original idea from a neophyte that becomes a blockbuster, but it rarely happens. Build a following. For non-fiction, at least, editors want to know what your marketing and distribution platform is: How many speeches a year do you give? How many thousands of people subscribe to your newsletter? How many people follow you on Twitter (if that’s appropriate)? Have you built a reputation? And so on. Sadly, the last scene in Little Miss Sunshine was so realistic it made me cringe. It’s when the father’s editor finally tells him why they have turned down his proposed book, his motivational opus–“No one knows who you are…” he tells Richard, played by Greg Kinnear.

  • http://twitter.com/theflyingcashew Pamela Karina

    Whenever, I was trying to get my book published, the whole process of the proposal, query letters and agents seemed incredibly intimidating. But this post shows who your target audience is and who you will win over. Definitely a test of your persuasive writing ability. Will keep this in mind whenever I start writing my own book and proposal

  • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

    This is a big day for me. I am holding my very frist publishing contract for a book. (I did a chapter for a Thomas Nelson project a year ago).  My six proposals generated exponentially more rejection letters, but to get to this place is absolutely worth it. This post would have been helpful a year ago! Thanks Michael for your continued assistance and inspiration to those aspiring. Clint, author (yay!)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Congratulations, Clint!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

       Clint, congratulations on the contract. Your website certainly provides a glimpse into your writing style. If your book is anything like your blog, you’ll do well. God bless you in your continued writing journey.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I appreciate the clarity you present in the getting-published process. My first submission (and I mean my very first one) went as far as the editorial committee. I’ve pitched several times at writing conferences and have had four or five acquisition editors say, “Send me the manuscript,” (including one from Thomas Nelson). When I got a rejection slip from my first submission, I was crushed (I didn’t know any better). Since then I’ve learned how blessed I was as a first-time, relatively unknown author (and I use “relatively” rather loosely; “completely” is more accurate) to have a project make it as far as it did. The acquisition editor at #1 submission house sent me her notes to the editorial committee, something she said herself was an unusual step on her part.  To some extent, your post explains how my project died while still on the vine.

  • http://www.caminomyway.com/ Randall St. Germain

    Thanks for the information. I didn’t shop my book to anyone, and many of the reasons why were in your post. I self published, although it was a learning experience in itself. Michael, I appreciate the detail in your post.

  • Pingback: Publish or Perish… or Self-Publish()

  • Charity Hawkins

    You asked about some of the hurdles with self-publishing. I have a small publisher but we’ll be doing what 48DaysDan was talking about –more of a partnership. One big hurdle I’m researching now, and the biggest challenge so far is how to market the book to big bookstores and buyers without all the connections. One of the publicity books I read called this the “Sell-In marketing.” Not sure if that’s still the right term. I’d love to see a future post about this: once you’ve got the book and blog and platform, how do you reach those buyers, not just the readers. I know how to reach the readers (selling via blogs/connections/homeschool conferences). I need to know how to reach CBA bookstore decision-makers. Any thoughts by anyone are appreciated!

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  • http://twitter.com/myemily_thebook Matt Patterson

    Can an already independently-published book which has already had a taste of success be appealing to an agent/publisher?   Do you have any how-to reference materials for someone who wishes to take his story to congregations as a public/inspirational speaker? Thank  you & blessings ….

    • Anonymous

       Matt, the short answer is yes. However, an agent or publisher will usually look for signs that this is that rare self-published book that has the potential to sell perhaps 10-20,000 copies or more as a commercially published book. They will want to see evidence of things like: a high sales ranking on Amazon, a following you have developed around the book, speaking engagements on your book, demonstrable direct sales to conferences or clients of yours, etc. If you lack those things, and the book is an undiscovered gem, then you may also get someone interested in it.

      • http://twitter.com/myemily_thebook Matt Patterson

         Thank you so much for your quick response! Much appreciated!  Thus far – I have had and have been able to maintain solid rankings on Amazon, as well as a solid following.  All of this from my own marketing efforts. So much so that Christianbook.com picked up my indie book, which from my understanding, is somewhat rare.  My next step is … to find a mentor or a solid source of information as to how to go about booking engagements at churches, conference, etc.  I don’t mind being an independent author – but what I would like to do is to share our story and my testimony with others.

  • Michael Wilson

    I am writing a book from my dissertation on Christian multiplication. I believe I have ample evidence to support Becky Pippert Manley’s thesis in the book Out of the Saltshaker. I am considering publishing it as an ebook. I also hope to publish it in Japan where most of the research was done. I got your book and am consulting it as I write a proposal. I would appreciate any advice.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      My best advice is found in “Advice to First Time Authors.” You can search for it in the search box on my blog. Thanks.

  • Tom Mabie

    Michael,
    I’ve been enjoying your blog and podcast for awhile now after connecting with your Life Plan ebook.  I have a quick question.  I have a friend who is writing on the topic of how the gospel advances.  As a Navigator Staff person, his hope is to publish with NavPress, but the info for submitting a publication included it’s own jargon like the premise of the book, several promises the the book with answer for the reader.  Do you have any suggestion as to where he could get further information on these terms and how to walk through the proposal process?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I would suggest your friend get one of my e-books, “Writing a Winning Book Proposal.” This will tell him everything he needs to know.

  • http://twitter.com/MyHeartWhispers Cheryl A. Thompson

    After hearing the process from editors, agents and publishers during Mount Hermons Christian Writers Conference, the process is not as frightening as I once believed.

  • Studiodude1

    I wrote a book, non fiction, and was going about the self publishing route when i ran across an author from my favorite mid sized indy publisher. She gave me the name of an acquisitions editor and so I emailed, then sent a proposal. It went fast-in a week it was at an acqusitions meeting and now its on to a review of the entire manuscript. i don’t know what to think. I’m excited yet nervous…

    • BillintheBlank

      Congrats! Stay true to who you are and you’ll be fine. As Seth Godin said: “I wish I knew then that everything was going to be OK.”

  • 42psmith

    Just understanding all these details informs me of what it actually takes to get the contract.  Knowing the details helps in developing a plan of action as well as know what to expect.

  • Thefogcenter

    Thank you for this insight. Very much appreciated.
    If any of your readers feel discouraged, please remind them that even through all of these many daunting steps, it is God’s will that ultimately prevails. Please remind them to keep the faith. -That any work done for the Lord has not been done in vain.
    Thank you again for all you do. Your blog was referred to me by Tracy Danz at Zondervan.
    I look forward to hopefully meeting you in person some day.
    Many blessings to you and your family,
    Sherry Turner, author of The FOG

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