Get Published Articles

Book Length: The Long and the Short of It

People who want to write a book often ask me about book length. How long, or how short should it be? The current trend is toward shorter books to match the shrinking attention span of an audience overwhelmed by information. A publisher is not inclined to publish a 600 page “how-to” opus from a first-time, unknown author. A good length for a non-fiction “how to” book is 45,000 to 65,000 words, or 180 to 280 pages in print. For a memoir or novel, 50,000 to 90,000 words is the sweet spot.

If you find yourself feeling limited by these ranges, here are some ideas to help you keep it brief without compromising on content.

Build a career: You can (and should) write more than one book in your lifetime. Think of your authoring aims long-term. Agents and editors hope for an on-going relationship with an author, not a one night stand. You are more attractive when you have a list of three to five follow up books you could write to go with the one you are writing.

Don’t try to say it all in one book: One of the most common mistakes I see first-time authors make is trying to share everything they know in one book. Not only does this confuse the reader, a book chock-full of general information is harder to market than a clear, simple book written to a well-targeted niche.

Look for opportunities to beak up the information: If you find yourself throwing in new tidbits every time you open the manuscript, take a step back and see what your book actually covers. Are there multiple themes that could be broken down and explored in more depth in future books? Usually, the answer is “yes.”

Make every word count:  Unfortunately, most writers say in 100 words what could be said in 20, thus  books are often heavy on fluff and light on content. Have your manuscript edited by a wordsmith who has mastered brevity.

Plan to Pitch

If you're ready for it, a good writer's conference can send you into warp speed toward your publishing goals. Faster than the query letter, you can pitch several agents at once, get valuable feedback, and even get an agent. Rather than sending out a query letter and hoping the agent is taking on new writers, you can be confident the ones at the conference are looking for new clients. Also, you can skip the picayune "pet" criteria that agents will demand if you query through their website, as long as you produce a solid pitch and standard-format book proposal.

Two of my favorite writer's conferences are coming up in early 2012, the San Diego State University Writer's Conference and Michael Larsen's San Francisco Writer's Conference. If you plan on attending either one of those, you'd better begin to prepare now.

To get your book proposal together, I recommend that you read Michael Larsen's How to Write a Book Proposal. If you want some more in-depth personalized help, visit my friend, the Literary Agent Undercover, Mark Malatesta for some great pointers and tips.

If you pitch your idea and get an agent's interest, chances are they will have some follow up questions. It's easy to forget about that part when you prepare. I don't want you to stand there and stumble, mumble and bumble through an unremarkable follow up conversation, so I've provided these five common questions agents are likely to ask when they are interested in your book.

Prepare and practice your answers to these, and agents will see you as a poised and polished professional.

The first question any agent will ask when you engage them in a conversation at a writer's conference is  some version of “What’s your book about?” which means, essentially, "tell me your book concept in about 10 seconds."

If you answer with a brilliant, compelling statement that leaves the agent wanting more, the agent probably will ask some or all of the following:

“How does it do that?” This is a logical follow up question to the statement you just made about what the book will do for its readers. Be ready to briefly explain the methodology or structure of the book and how it delivers on its promise. Keep your answers short and to the point.

“What genre?" or "What’s your category?” Basically, what they want to know is, if this book were to be published, where in the bookstore might one find it? Humor? Self-help? How-to? You get the idea. Agents need to know, because it will help them figure out if your book is a fit for the type of work they represent.

“What’s it like?” This question may be phrased in a number of ways, but they are really asking you to use two other books to give them the gist of the tone and overall approach of the book. It’s best to compare top-selling, notable books, because agents like to represent books that have a fresh twist on themes that have already done well. For example, a book on using the law of attraction to grow your business might be pitched as “It’s The Tipping Point meets The Secret.” One warning, while it's good to mention strong sellers, don't use examples that are likely to have been overused. For example, not every memoir is the next Eat Pray Love, and if you don't want agents to roll their eyes at you, neither is yours.

“Why are you the best person to write this book?” This question goes to your status as an expert. If an agent is interested in your idea, they are already thinking, How am I going to sell this author? So, help them out. Be prepared to explain why you are not only the BEST person to write the book, you are the ONLY one who could write it and why.

And MOST Important: It’s natural to be a little nervous when talking with agents for the first time, just don’t let your nervousness keep you chattering away, never giving the agent a chance to ask you more questions. Answer the question and shut up. Remember, the idea here is to generate a conversation, not a monologue.

 

Self-Publish or Be Published?

Make the decision of whether to go for a deal with a major publishing house or to self-publish based upon your goals, your end-game, and your material, not on what you perceive to be outer obstacles. It’s true the publishing industry is going through some big changes, but I wouldn’t let that discourage you from going after what you really want. The most important question for you to ask is: What do you want your book to do for your business and your career? For some objectives, self-publishing is the clear choice to get you there, while for others, the best strategy is to hold out for the book deal.

Self-publishing is usually the best route under the following five circumstances:

Small Niche Market: If you have a particular specialty in a very small, niche market, or a small geographic region, you can self-publish and tap that market to the point where you are THE expert in your area and may not only have the best book on your topic, you may have the ONLY book. I have a friend, Kenn Amdahl, who self-published a book on electronics. He’s sold enough copies to pay his mortgage every year for the past 20 years!

Face-to-Face Distribution: If you are a professional speaker, and your main intention is to sell books and other products in the back of the room, self-publishing will give you higher profit margins and total creative control.

Book as an Entrée: Are you a high-end consultant? You may benefit from having a book you can give away to prospective clients as a way to build credibility and rapport. You don’t need a publisher for this. You will use the book as a loss-leader to land the five, six, or seven-figure consulting gig.

Timely Material: Big publishing houses move slowly, which is part of the reason they seem to be headed for the same fate as the dinosaurs (but I wouldn't write them off yet, see below). If you are a first-time author and decide to go for a deal with a big house, you are looking at two to three years (or more) before you will get an agent, land a  publishing contract, and see it out in print. When your book idea is news-worthy or a commentary on a hot, new fad, you have a small window of opportunity to make a big profit, so self-publishing is the way to go. A great example is a small publisher who happened to have a biography of Sarah Palin in the can when she was selected as the Vice Presidential candidate in 2008. They cranked out their Palin biography first and sold about 500,000 copies in a couple of months.

For Friends and Family: Let’s face it, some books are really just for you and those who love you, and that’s perfectly okay, self-publish, get it out of your system, and move on.

Now, on to a look at seeking a publisher...

“Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!”

First of all, despite all rumors and speculation about the turmoil in the publishing industry today, the big publishing houses are still the major players. They still have the strongest distribution channels, they still publish 98% of all New York Times bestsellers, and they have the most influence and credibility when it comes to launching a new author. So, let us remember the immortal words of Mark Twain and refrain from posting obituaries for the Six Sisters just yet.

For many authors, self-publishing or going with a vanity press may serve  just fine, but certain circumstances will dictate that you hold out for a book contract with a big publishing  house (or one of the few important mid-sized presses).

You have built (or intend to build) a national celebrity platform: National celebrities have no business spending their time on the phone with a printer or settling for a no-name publisher. If you are already a celebrity, this may be obvious to you. For the up-and-coming, my advice is this: plan for the long haul and put 90% of your energy into building your author platform (credibility, exposure, following, reach) and 10% into developing your writing and your idea until you land a book deal.

If you see yourself as a future brand-name author/expert, such as Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, etc., invest your time and energy in creating yourself as the expert. Expand your audience and market reach. Develop a demand for your work, do a lot of public speaking, and generate a track-record of sales.

Taking these steps before you seek a publisher will give you leverage. Lisa Nichols, author of No Matter What! built her celebrity platform so solid before she sought a publisher, she got a $1 million advance as a first-time author!

Big message, big market: Authors with a fresh message who write in popular genres have a better chance of being picked up. Relationships, money, health and happiness are traditionally strong sellers in the non-fiction market. Young Adult, both fiction and non-fiction, is a huge market that is presently under-served, so opportunities abound!

Controversy and credibility: If your topic is controversial, political, or contains thinking that is way outside the box, having a big publisher behind you will automatically and instantly grant you a level of credibility that is impossible to attain as a self-publisher or through a small press.

Exceptional writing or content: Believe it or not, even with all the angst big publishers are feeling over the changes in the marketplace, there is still a place for the “great American novel,” the exceptional narrative, artful poetry, or the latest, greatest solution. The catch here is you can’t be the judge. To see if your work qualifies, have it reviewed by a professional editor, a credible book coach, or a literary agent,  preferably one with experience working with the big publishing houses who specializes in your genre.

Top 10 List of Books to Help Make You a Successful Author

Top 10 List of Books to Help Make You a Successful Author 


The books on this list have made a BIG difference for me. They have inspired me, motivated me and guided me to take the right actions and get results. The only path to mastery is to keep educating yourself, learn new strategies, and try them out for yourself. Stay inspired and grow faster when you read top-notch books.

Of all the books I've read on writing, publishing and doing what it takes to get big projects done, the books on this list have helped me the most. I could have given you a list of a 100 books, but these are a good start. You should have every one in your library.

 

Here they are...

cover_my book#1 How to Write a Book that Sells You

By Robin Colucci (I just had to include my book now that it's out!)

More than eighty percent of Americans believe they should write and publish a book, but less than one percent actually does so. In How to Write a Book That Sells You, author Robin Colucci guides coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs in writing and publishing a book that can become a power tool in their businesses. The steps presented in this guide seek to help you avoid or handle most of the blocks, distractions, and misunderstandings that prevent people from becoming authors. It teaches you how to excavate your most radical, leading-edge ideas and write a book that excites your audience and expands your impact. - See more

 

 

#2  How to Write a Book Proposal

By Michael Larsen

This newly revised edition of the Writer's Digest Books classic outlines how to create an effective, nonfiction book proposal in a clear, step-by-step manner. A book proposal is like a business plan for your book, so whether you intend to self-publish or seek a publisher, How to Write a Book Proposal is THE fundamental book for every aspiring author who wants to sell books.

 

#3 How To Get A Literary Agent

By Michael Larsen

Written by a top literary agent who gives writers an insider's view of how to find and work with an agent throughout the process of getting published. If you want to know what agents want and how best to communicate with them, this book is a must read.

 

 

#4 Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual

By Dan Poynter

Book publishing is changing. The Self-Publishing Manual, Volume 2 describes how to use new techniques to write your book even faster, use new technology to publish it for less, and how to use social media for promotion.

 

 

 

#5  Joy Writing

By Kenn Amdahl

This book will make you want to write. It will also entertain, inspire, and cheer you as it nudges and teases you toward mastery of language. Novices and experienced writers alike will discover useful tips.

 

 

#6  The Elements of Style

By William Strunk & E. B. White

You know the authors' names. You recognize the title. You've probably used this book yourself. This is the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. Use it to make a big impact you’re your writing.

 

 

 

 

 

#7  The Millionaire Messenger

By Brendon Bruchard

In The Millionaire Messenger, Brendon Burchard reveals the  "expert industry" secrets and shows how to become an influential and highly paid advice expert through websites, books, speeches, seminars, coaching, consulting, and online programs.  If you’ve ever wondered how thought leaders spread their message, serve others, and build a real business, it's here in this book.

 

#8 On Writing

By Stephen King

A revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it.

 

Author You J Briles#9 Author You: Creating and Building the Author and Book Platforms

By Dr. Judith Briles

An extraordinary and interactive guidebook. Judith Briles, The Book Shepherd and author and publishing expert, will share insider strategies on how she created multiple bestsellers and award-winning books for herself and hundreds of clients. Discover how to: Create a successful book plan; 22 Activities that will captivate your author and book development; Identify which publishing venue is right for you; Use simple ways to get to the core of your book; Carve out the time and space to craft your masterpiece; ID which Internet and social media features will work for your book; Steer clear of the publishing predators;Learn the components of creating a successful book launch; Cloud funding ... and much more.

 

#10  Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

By Francine Prose

Prose invites you to sit by her side and take a guided tour of the tools and the tricks of the masters. She reads the work of the very best writers—Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Woolf, Chekhov—and discovers why their work has endured. She cautions readers to slow down and pay attention to words, the raw material out of which literature is crafted.

 

 

Ask Robin

Robin I"From One to the Many"

Ask Your Question Below

Robin knows that people who have similar interests and goals often face similar challenges, so she created "From One to Many...Answers for Aspiring Authors" a weekly column where you can ask Robin absolutely any question about writing, publishing, or promoting your book. This is a powerful way to get some guidance for yourself and to contribute to the community. When one person asks a question, many may benefit from the answer.

Here's how it works...

  • Each week, Robin will select a question out of the ones submitted on the form below.
  • Every Saturday, Robin will select one question and write her answer and deliver it via email to her subscribers, and post the answer on her Blog, so that everyone may benefit.
  • Be sure to tell us if you wish to remain anonymous.

Not sure what to ask?

You can ask Robin anything about how to write a book and get it published. Any question, any step. Take a look at the benefits of being a published author in your industry.

Go to this link to Ask Robin: http://localhost:29836/ask_robin

 

 

 

3 Ways to Get Help 1-on-1

Stop Guessing!

Did you know that you can get help to write your book and get published so you can reach more people and raise your status and clout in your industry? In other words... stand out from the crowd; get more exposure; increase your credibility; have more customers, clients, and/or raving fans; increase your income; and make a greater difference in the world? All you need is someone to show you exactly what to do... so you can reach your goals.

3 Ways You Can Get Help...

[divider_bar]divider[/divider_bar]

1. Submit a question by clicking here.

This is a special area on this website where you can ask me absolutely anything about strategies to help you bring your book idea to fruition and take it as far as you need to so you can reach your business goals. This is one of the ways that I "give back," so I don’t charge anything for this, and I answer every question personally.

You'll also learn a lot from my responses to other people's questions. Plus, you’ll have a chance to win one of my Top 10 Books to Make You A Bestselling Author. Every week I select a new winner (at random) from those who left a question or comment the previous week.

[divider_bar]divider[/divider_bar]

2. Request a 1-on-1 consulting call by clicking here.

The more serious you are about writing and publishing your book, the more questions you'll have... and they'll be more important (even urgent). Asking a question (and getting a reply) on my blog won't always be enough (or be fast enough).

At some point (maybe now) you’ll want and/or need to have a real conversation with me... so you can provide more background about your past and current situation, tell me about your goals, and get answers to lots of questions in a short period of time.

Obviously I can’t do this for free, but I want everyone to be able to take advantage of this offer... so, for a limited time, I'm letting everyone who’s part of my Get Published Coach community have a full 45-minute intensive consulting session with me by phone for just $97 (normally $497).

After you secure your spot, you'll get an email from me asking questions about you and your goals. I'll also take a look at your website and working book content (if you have it) before the call. That way I'll be able to give you more valuable strategies during the call, instead of using the time to cover the basics.

Reserve your space now by clicking here. And make sure you get your spot now because space is limited... and phone consultating sessions are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Only one $97 phone consultation allowed, per person!

[divider_bar]divider[/divider_bar]

3. Apply for a coaching program or Private Writer's Retreat day.

If you don't want to leave anything to chance, this is the best option for you. You'll get the results you want… because I won’t take you on as a client unless I believe you can succeed. That's why you have to apply.

I'll help you see what you can't see, and overcome the things you can see (but don't know how to fix). You'll save time, headaches, and money... because you're going to have access to insider information, valuable resources, and shortcuts.

We’ll spend time together by phone, email, and/or face-to-face... and I'm not going to put you through a one-size-fits-all program, but a completely customized plan that’s tailored to your unique wants and needs. And, you'll be able to go as fast (or slow) as you want, so our work together fits in with the rest of your life.

To apply for consulting, you must first request a 1-on-1 consulting call (above). That will allow me to demonstrate the value of my expertise and give you insight into your book and your business, but it will also allow me to see if we'll be good fit for each other in a more committed program.

Coaching programs and Private Writing Retreats start at $2,497.

If you have questions about any of the options above, contact me using the comment form below. If it's confidential, feel free to send me a private email by clicking here. I look forward to helping YOU become a published author and a PREMIER expert in your field.

Robin Colucci 

Your Get Published Coach

Do You Need to Write a Book?

Can you build a successful business before you have a book? Of course you can. Lots of people have and do, including myself. But to go to that next level, to take it up a notch, to move from being just another coach, consultant and especially speaker, at some point in your career development, writing your book is the inevitable step. Here are some of the many benefits:

  • Gain more trust and respect from prospects and peers—No matter how many books are out there, author is still the root of authority. When you have a book, you get more respect. Heck, just being committed to having a book grants you more respect, as long as you follow through.
  • Get interviewed in the media—yes, social media is an alternative to traditional media to gain exposure, but premier experts still set themselves apart by being featured in traditional media channels including magazines, TV, and radio. You can get interviewed as an expert in local markets without a book, but it’s very tough to move into the national media outlets without that book on your mantle as a testament to your expertise.
  • Stand out from other experts in your field—as I said earlier, anyone can say they’re an expert. Even today, only a handful have written and published their book.
  • Sell more of your products and services—a book is a terrific entrée to inspire others to get more involved with you and check out your programs and higher end products. When done properly, it helps to establish trust and rapport.
  • Charge higher prices—when you become a published author, your stock goes up, you move into designer-expert status, so you may command higher rates than an off-the-rack expert.
  • Get more invitations to speak and get paid for it—If you’ve ever sought opportunities to speak and get paid for your efforts, you will learn quickly that one of the first questions you will be asked is “do you have a book”? Speakers need a book. If you doubt me, just try and get signed to a speaker’s bureau without one.