Publishing a book is one of the most powerful methods available for building a thriving practice. Besides helping thousands of people achieve their financial goals, a book can establish you as a true financial expert. Prospects and clients will look at you differently, and you’ll have access to the most powerful publicity machines in existence–newspaper, radio and television show interviews.
In addition, published authors are more likely to be hired as highly paid convention speakers. As if all that weren’t enough, you should receive an advance from the publisher and earn royalties on every book sold.
For all of these reasons and more, many financial advisors would love to publish a book. The first question that many advisors ask me in seminars and workshops is, “How do I get a book published?” The rules have changed in the past few years. Some of the strategies that used to work are no longer effective. Here are some powerful new approaches that will greatly increase your odds for success in the publishing industry.
The New Rules of Publishing
In the past, you would send your query letter or finished book to a major publisher and expect a response within a few weeks. That is no longer true. Mergers and acquisitions among the major publishing houses have led to significant layoffs. Many editors are now overworked and understaffed. Unless your manuscript or book proposal comes from an agent, it is likely to be ignored or rejected.
A few major houses are open to reviewing proposals that have been directly submitted by authors. Before you go to the trouble of submitting your proposal or manuscript to such publishers, contact the publisher via email, mail, fax or phone and inquire about their submissions policies.
But when you first contact a publisher to inquire about their submission policies, do not attempt to sell them on your idea. In fact, don’t even tell them about your idea or concept. You will sell them on your idea in your proposal or with the manuscript itself. The first inquiry is only to learn about their preferred method of submission.
Top real estate agents know that “Your first showing is your best showing.” The same holds true in publishing. You don’t want a publisher to judge the merits of your work by looking at a brief description. You want the publisher to see your proposal or manuscript in all of its glory. Make sure that whatever you submit is as rich, exciting and compelling as possible.
Most publishers don’t even consider unagented proposals. If that’s the case, don’t waste your time in submitting one. Here’s what happens when you send an unagented proposal or book to a publisher who does not look at unagented material. You’ll receive the material back with a nice, official-looking, personalized letter, signed by a big shot at the publishing house, stating that your book does not fit with their current editorial calendar. The letter might thank you for your submission and wish you great success in placing it with another house. Guess what? The person never even read the book.
Keep every rejection letter you receive. If a publishing house rejected a proposal you directly submitted, try having an agent submit it at a later date. It just might be accepted. I speak from direct experience because this happened to me. I once submitted a book to Prentice Hall, and it was summarily rejected. A short time later, I obtained an agent who submitted the same manuscript to Prentice Hall. My cover letter was now printed on the agent’s stationary and was signed by the agent. The book was accepted and went on to sell very well.
That book, Modern Persuasion Strategies, helped launch my career as a Sales and Marketing Psychologist. I learned a lesson worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is that the picture frame sometimes has a great impact on how people see the picture. Change the frame and the picture is seen in an entirely new light. Make sure that you put the best frame possible on your book.
Submitting Your Proposal
Another question I commonly hear in workshops and seminars is, “How much should I submit? Should I just submit a proposal describing the book, should I submit part of the book, or should I send the entire book?”
In most cases, you do not have to submit the entire book. Some houses, such as <a href=””http://www.careerpress.com/””>Career Press</a>, do prefer to review completed manuscripts. But most publishing houses can make a decision based upon a complete proposal.
Each publisher has a slightly different idea of the perfect proposal. Obtain the proposal guidelines from each publisher in which you are interested. Some publishers now have their proposal guidelines available online. Log on to the publisher’s web site and if you can’t find the proposal guidelines, send an email requesting them.
There is a great deal of overlap between the proposal guidelines of one publisher and another. However, in publishing, they say that God is in the details. One of the surest ways of having your proposal shot down is to submit it in the format requested by a competitive publisher.
Don’t be discouraged by the slight amount of customization you must do for each proposal. Remember that perhaps 80% to 90% of the content of any proposal can be rearranged to fit the guidelines of another publisher. Honoring the proposal guidelines of each individual publisher puts your proposal in the most attractive frame possible.
In many cases, the ideal submission is a complete proposal plus a few chapters of your book. You might want to include the first two chapters and a later chapter or the final chapter. This gives the publisher an opportunity to review the quality and style of your writing. Including some sample chapters can greatly speed up the acceptance timeline. In my experience, publishers are more likely to accept a manuscript they believe is already halfway completed.
When you’re approaching a publisher, you don’t have to worry about your ideas being stolen. A few years ago, a financial advisor told me that he would only submit a one-page proposal to the publishing house because if the publisher had any more details, the book idea would be stolen. Since then other financial advisors have shared the same fear with me.
Fear not. Publishers are in the business of editing, publishing, promoting and selling books. They don’t have a stable of writers just waiting to steal any good ideas that may be submitted. If you submit a proposal that is too brief, truncated or secretive, it will almost certainly be rejected.
If you really don’t want to deal with publishers, I would suggest self-publishing your book. The best way to reach a wide audience and to get on radio and television shows is to publish your book with a major house. However, if you have a very powerful idea or concept that is aimed at a narrow audience, self-publishing can make more sense. In a future article, I will teach you some of the most effective strategies I have learned for self-publishing.
Finding an Agent
As I mentioned earlier, most publishers will only take books submitted by agents. The question then becomes how to find an agent. An outstanding resource for finding agents is the Guide to Literary Agents published by Writer’s Digest Books. Another great way to find an effective agent is by contacting successful authors. Call or email your favorite financial author and ask which agency he or she uses. Most agents charge about 15% of royalties and advances. In my opinion, a good agent is well worth this fee.
Top agents are very busy. You have to sell yourself and your ideas to them just as you sell them to a publisher. However, remember that in most cases, any agent is better than no agent. A proposal or book submitted to a major publisher by “John Doe Literary Agency” is likely to get much more attention than one submitted by “Jane Smith, CFP.” It may not be fair, but that is the way the publishing world now works. You can fight it or use it to your advantage.
While publishing a book may garner you good money from book royalties, in most cases the major benefit will be a rapid rate of growth in your practice. I know financial planners, insurance agents and others who have earned a few thousand dollars from book royalties but who have gained tens to hundreds of millions of dollars in new assets under management from their book and related media appearances.
In a future column, I will show you some of the most effective ways to write a book proposal—whether that proposal goes to a publishing house or an agency. In the meantime, send me an email and tell me what you would most like me to cover in the worlds of practice building, book publishing, media and public relations, infomercials, column publishing, direct mail or seminars and workshops. I can be reached at DrMoine@aol.com
Dr. Donald Moine, based in Palos Verdes, California, is a Sales and Marketing Psychologist specializing in helping financial advisors rapidly build massive practices. A popular seminar leader and success coach to financial planners, Dr. Moine is the author of seven books and more than 200 articles. He may be reached at DrMoine@aol.com or at (310) 378-2666.