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How to Get a Book Contract in 6 Months (with a Blog)

How to Get a Book Contract in 6 Months (with a Blog)
Books
    You CAN write one of these...

    You can publish a book.

    And you can do it much sooner than you think, actually.

    How do you do this? Not by wasting years writing articles or obsessing over writer’s conferences and book proposals.

    All you need is a blog.

    No other activity (including years of freelance writing) has brought me closer to my dream of publishing a book than blogging. It took me about six months to get a book contract with a publisher.

    And you can do the same.

    But why would want to publish a book?

    Because:

    • Being a published author makes you an “expert” in your field.
    • Traditionally-published books tend to be of a higher quality.
    • Publishers can help you with marketing.

    Let’s be honest: You don’t publish for the royalties. You won’t be retiring after your first book goes to print. But if you have a message the world needs to hear, going with a traditional publisher may be the right thing for you. Here’s how you can do it in six months:

    Month 1: Build and Launch a Blog

    All publishers want to know if you have a “platform.” A platform is an asset you own that gives you the authority to speak on a certain topic.

    If you can build a website that attracts a good tribe of followers, you have a good chance of getting noticed and eventually published. A blog is a great way to do this.

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    Getting started

    You can sign up for a free blog on sites like WordPress.com, Tumblr.com, and Blogger.com.

    Or, you can spend some cash on a self-hosted WordPress.org blog. For less than $100, you can have your site up and running in two hours. (Follow this guide for step-by-step instructions.)

    How to launch

    The first four weeks of your new blog should be focused on creating content, not marketing.

    At the end of the month, you should be fully launched with your core content and have easy ways for people to subscribe (you can do this for free via Feedburner), follow you, and interact with your writing.

    Then, you can send an email to friends and colleagues letting them know about your new site.

    Month 2: Start Promoting

    In the world of social media, promotion looks like connecting with people who can help you. However, you need to make sure you have the right tools.

    Your social media toolkit

    If you haven’t already done so, you need to do the following

    Once you’re on those social networks, don’t go crazy with promotion and mindless following. Start small and personal, and build from there.

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    Guest posting

    There are lots of ways to earn blog subscribers and get noticed online. The best I’ve found is guest posting. Reaching out to other bloggers and websites and writing for them is a great way to build a readership and get your name out there. Make sure you are smart about it, though. Target sites that focus on your topic and have a large enough readership that it will be worth your time.

    For more on this, read these six tips on how to be a good guest blogger.

    Interviewing experts

    Another way to grow an audience and build influence is to do interviews. Seek out other authors and bloggers in your niche and ask to interview them. This allows you to deliver value to your readers, while building relationships with influential people. Soon, people will think of you as the expert — which is exactly what publishers are looking for.

    For more on this, check out this series: How to Conduct an Interview Like a Journalist

    Month 3: Write a Manifesto

    Once you’ve built a blog and started generating an audience, you can now work on a manifesto. A manifesto is a short eBook that helps you connect with an audience that shares your beliefs. You can also use it to build an email list by giving it away for free.

    This is a short eBook — less than 10,000 words — which you should be able to write in a few days (or less). The shorter it is, the more people will read and share it.

    For more on this, check out this seven-step guide to writing an eBook.

    Month 4: Grow Your Brand

    Every author needs a brand. You want people to recognize your name, as they would Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. What’s the best way for a blogger to do this? Get social.

    Connect on social media

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    Social media is a great way to find fans and friends who will spread your work. It’s free, and most people are pretty approachable. The trick is to not focus too much on yourself. If you show interest in other people and add value, you can make meaningful connections and build a following that is actually worth something.

    On Twitter, follow popular hashtags that focus on your topic. On Facebook, “like” relevant pages and engage in the comments. Use common interests to build rapport that leads to relationship.

    Pick up the phone

    Once you’ve connected with someone via social media or email, the best way to take the relationship to the next level is to get on a call together. If you’re comfortable giving out your phone number, you can do that. Or you can Skype, which is free, and can actually be more personal if you do a video chat.

    Meet in person

    The whole point of all this is to lead to deeper connection. So once you initiate an online relationship, you’ll want to take it to the next level. A few ways to do this are:

    • Ask a social media friend to lunch or coffee.
    • Sign up for local, free meetups.
    • Attend conferences.

    While this may require some investment of time and money, it’s worth it. There really is nothing like in-the-flesh relationships. All you have to do is ask.

    Month 5: Find an Agent

    Once you’ve started to build a platform and are connecting with important people, it’s time to find an agent.

    Work your network

    Build off of existing relationships if you can. The best way to get an agent is through referral. If you don’t have a friend who can refer someone to you, then you may need to revert to “cold calling” by writing a query letter. However, if you’ve succeeded at building a platform, an agent may come find you.

    Do you need an agent?

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    Of course, you don’t have to use an agent. Without one, though, you’re on your own.

    The downside to having an agent is you share your royalties with them (the market rate is around 15%). The upside is authors with agents typically get better deals. Agents also help negotiate the terms of the contract and make sure you don’t get ripped off by a publisher.

    For more on this, check out: How to Find a Literary Agent

    Month 6: Get the Contract

    Finally, it’s time to start working on the book itself, but not actually write it. Not yet.

    Most publishers will want a say in your book, so it’s not productive to start writing before you have a contract. What you can do, though, is work on your proposal.

    Writing a book proposal

    If your agent doesn’t have a book proposal template, you can Google “book proposal templates” or follow a publisher’s guidelines. If you need further help, you can get this eBook: Writing a Winning Book Proposal by Michael Hyatt.

    To be fair, it may take months to get a contract from a publisher, but I don’t recommend working on your proposal sooner than Month 6. Investing your time in building a platform will give you a much better chance of being taken seriously by a publisher. It can expedite the process, as well.

    If you do it right, the publisher may come to you. This is not the “norm” in publishing, but it does happen. It happened to me and to many of my friends who are authors. And it can happen to you — if you build a blog worth noticing and serve your way into influence.

    Ready to publish your first book? Start blogging.

    (Photo credit: Nicola Romagna)

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    Last Updated on December 10, 2019

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

    Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

    But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

    Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

    But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

    Journal writing.

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    Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

    Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

    Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

    1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

    By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

    Consider this:

    Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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    But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

    The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

    2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

    If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

    How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

    Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

    You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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    3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

    As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

    Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

    All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

    4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

    Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

    Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

    The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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    5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

    The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

    It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

    Kickstart Journaling

    How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

    Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

    Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

    Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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