The Best Way to Land A Publishing Contract

    Anna Leinberger Posted by Anna Leinberger, Editorial Manager, Acqusitions, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

    Anna is a writer and editor for Berrett-Koehler in Oakland, CA. More on killer book proposals and writing can be found on her BK Blog.



    The Best Way to Land A Publishing Contract

    Or, How To Get The Publisher to Come to You

    The land of publishing, like most other industries, is seemingly divided between the haves and the have nots. Those who have the attention of an editor, who shop out their book proposals to numerous publishers, who get massive advances to secure their project, and the have nots. The have nots polish and strive, write proposal after proposal and query agent after agent. As in most situations it seems like an untouchable world when looking to the world of the haves. But this week I am going to tell you straight out the best way to get a book published.

    **Now, I want to be clear that I am speaking of non-fiction only. I know nothing of the parallel universe that is fiction publishing, so please keep that in mind as you read ahead. **

    The best way to get a book published, quite simply, is to get the editor to come to you.

    That sounds simple, and I am aware, virtually impossible. Stay with me though, there is a method to my madness. Editors do not just sit up here in our offices, waiting for good proposals to fall into our laps. We don’t rely solely on agents to bring authors to our attention. A large part of our job is going to conferences, reaching out through our networks, searching for people who are doing intriguing things.

    Get out there and change the world!

    Berrett-Koehler, as potential authors remind me every day in their proposal cover letters, is in the business of creating a world that works for all- our mission statement. We publish books by people who are making the world a better place and who want to spread their story and galvanize others to do the same. Here is the thing about writing a book to change the world though- unless you are out there doing it, no one who would be interested in your book is going to trust you as an author. If your idea of changing the world is sitting in your house, having ideas and benevolently bestowing them upon the world, I have some bad news for you. The best way to get a book published about changing the world is to go out there and do it- make the change that you want to see, and the readers, the editors, they will flock to you.

    Changing the world will result in your platform growing

    The great thing about publishing books about change messages is that we work with 40 authors a year who are inspiring, passionate, motivated change agents. In working to create the change they want to see they meet people, they inspire people. Someone notices what they are doing and they get media coverage. When their hard work pays off and they have had incredible results, someone asks them to come and speak to others who want to make that change as well. Before long they do something than an editor notices, and the question comes “Have you thought about writing a book?”

    If you want to change the world, go do it, and the editor will come to you.