While this is a complex and challenging question in a complex and challenging market, a friend and editor at Chronicle Books, Kate Woodrow, gets to the heart of the matter in this insightful piece culled from a recent conference panel she was on. It gives some advice from the inside on the book development process, and more importantly from an author’s perspective, what makes a successful pitch. Chronicle is a publisher we do a lot of business with, and they are very creative when it comes to developing nonfiction books from brands or blogs, so it’s worth a read.
A number of the tips Kate shares about developing a saleable book concept apply to fiction writers as well. Like researching and reading your competition. It seems so obvious, but it bears repeating and often. Knowing your market and what’s out there is incredibly important. And no typos! In this moving-so-fast culture we all inhabit, it’s way too easy to hit send before triple checking your work. But if you’re serious about getting published, then take the time to get it right the first time.
One point that Kate doesn’t address but that’s been coming up a lot in my blog-to-book conversations with clients and editors is that the more targeted book concepts seem to be working better now given the competition in the market. Having a great idea is still imperative, even if you have a big blog to support it. That’s something that’s a bit different than it was even six months ago. There was a long stretch where publishers were snatching up books from bloggers at a rapid pace. That has slowed down considerably, and now it’s even more important to think through and develop a commercial, accessible concept that is supported by your blog, but not necessarily the topic of your blog. For example, I just sold a single subject book on avocados by a food blogger. Her blog is a lot more general, but there is a section on avocados because it’s a food she loves and writes about often, so we felt the idea of narrowing the focus of her book was a smart one.
Hope you find some takeaway here that’s helpful. And good luck if you choose to go in this direction!