One of my favorite long-term clients called me yesterday, nearly in tears about the rumors surrounding the $7 million Palin book deal. "I simply can't believe that publishers would want a book like this when they won't give our book the time of day!" she wailed.
She has a good point. This author has had two books published and she is highly credentialed with a Ph.D and vast experience in her field. Her co-author has similar credentials. But neither of them is famous. They don't write a column for a magazine or a newspaper. Their opinions aren't sought by television or radio shows. You wouldn't recognize their names.
Their book is wonderful--well-written, well-researched with thought provoking ideas that could be of great help to a great many people. Why are we having such a hard time getting publishers to look at it, when "that woman" (Palin) is being courted by the biggest and best?
First, of all, I cautioned my author, no deal has been struck, to my knowledge, between Palin or Palin's agent and any publisher. (Rumor has it that the $7 million dollar balloon was floated in order to get the attention of publishers.) Will Palin get a book deal eventually? Of course. Why? Because we all know who she is. Because her face is familiar. Because we've seen her on television and on the cover of newspapers and magazines coast-to-coast. Because the Palin buzz is still out there and we all want to know more about this quirky character who made "mooseburgers" famous.
Does this mean that you can't get a nonfiction book published if you're not a household name? No. It happens every day. But most published nonfiction authors developed a "platform" in order to give publishers more confidence in their ability to sell books. Perhaps they are public speakers, or MAYBE THEY BLOG. It's not enough to write a good nonfiction book these days. Your platform must precede you so that by the time your agent is approaching publishers, he can tell them how many people listen to you already and are dying to get their hands on your unpublished book.
"But, it's not fair!" says my author, and I agree. It's not fair. But that's that way things are. So, if a nonfiction book is in your future, start working on your platform now. You'll be glad you did.
Oh, and my author? As I'm writing this she's working on establishing a blog. She's a fine writer with great information. I'll let you know when she has posted a few times.