I still vividly remember my own ‘J.K. Rowling moment’ – the day the publisher offered me an advance for my book ‘The Merlin Mystery’.
My cousin Suzie handed me the phone. “It’s the editor from HarperCollins,” she whispered breathlessly, knowing I’d been waiting. Everything seemed to go into slow motion.
“Jonathan? This is Jane. We’d like to make your book our #1 offer at the Frankfurt book fair this year. We’d also like to offer you $150,000 cash in advance. Would you accept?”
All dreams came true in that instant. All money issues instantly vaporized. That phone call changed my life, and 18 months later it got even crazier when my book was published in 7 different languages.
Can You Get A Similar Deal?
Truth is, my journey to that ‘phone call moment’ took over a decade. I had gradually built up a waiting ‘audience’ of potential readers and supporters – a community. I had also worked in advertising for years and dealt with plenty of publishers, so I used every ounce of that marketing know-how when pitching my book.
Even so, a mass of rejection slips ensued, and it took a seemingly endless series of pitches to publishers before I finally prevailed.
The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way for you. A new route to getting a traditional book deal has recently emerged – one that avoids all that endless uncertainty and stress.
This new route is not only much faster, but also means you start earning money before you secure the deal too…
The Solution: To Get A Traditional Publishing Deal, E-Publish Your Book First
It’s now possible to get a traditional publishing contract by having an eBook published on the Amazon Kindle™ first.
With so many changes happening in the industry, publishers are becoming more and more risk-averse – and are increasingly looking for “sure things” when it comes to new authors.
The easiest way for them to know they have a “sure thing” is to seek out authors who have e-books that are already proving to be popular.
So by having a Kindle e-Book that is even moderately successful, you’re far more likely to be offered a deal by a traditional print-publisher. (Not to mention all the earnings from sales of your ebook in the interim!)
Real Life Examples Of Success Using This Approach:
This approach has recently been used by a well known trio: John Locke, Amanda Hocking and E.L. James.
All three authors couldn’t get an agent or publisher to even glance at their books.
Instead, they self-published their books on the Amazon Kindle, and used some simple but effective (non-salesy) techniques to promote them. When they had found their audience, attracted a growing readership and their e-Books became successful, traditional publishers began to take an immediate interest and began offering publishing deals.
1. Amanda Hocking
Her break-through secret was Kindle publishing great zombie stories and then successfully attracting book-blogger reviews.
Amanda earns millions of dollars each year, and the income increases daily. It took her ten years in the wilderness, during which time she couldn’t find an agent or publisher to take her work. So she published on Amazon’s Kindle to prove that people would love her books. They did, in truckloads, because she discovered how to get book-bloggers to promote her work.
She’s now accepted a substantial offer from a traditional publisher.
2. E L James
Started as fan fiction, then onto the Kindle, then a publisher, now … a movie.
Her book ‘50 Shades of Grey’ started as fan fiction around the ‘Twilight’ franchise. Then James e-Published it on the Kindle.
Sales exploded because of the following she’d built up while writing it as fan-fiction on the massively followed ‘Twilight’ fan site. She recently attracted a seven-figure sum from a traditional publisher, and now has a multi-million dollar offer from a movie studio as well.
3. John Locke
Broke into the bestseller lists by having a series based on a central character and using the Amazon KDP Select promotional system.
John started from nowhere, but after successfully publishing a series of ‘Donovan Creed’ detective books on the Kindle, has accepted a deal from a traditional publisher after selling over a million e-Books.
The Advantages Of E-Publishing Don’t Stop There
It’s not just the increased likelihood of getting a traditional print deal that makes e-Publishing worthwhile either. There are a host of other benefits.
Firstly, by e-publishing on the Kindle, you’re published instantly. No query letters, no rejection slips, no contracts, and no two-year long wait for a book to finally ‘come out’.
Secondly, an eBook goes on earning forever. The only traditionally printed books from publishers that remain on bookstore shelves for longer than a month are the big ‘bestsellers’. By contrast, your e-book will stay “on the shelf” and earning until such time as you – and only you – decide to remove it.
And last but not least, you get to keep a much bigger slice of the earnings than you could ever hope to receive from a traditional print publisher. The ‘Big Six’ traditional publishers commonly take 90% of print book earnings for themselves, leaving you with only 10%. But if you e-publish on the Amazon Kindle, you get to keep up to 70% of the proceeds.
So if you haven’t yet considered e-publishing, I strongly urge you to do so. It’s not only a great publishing pathway in its own right, but it could also help you secure a traditional print publishing deal too. I will add a ‘rider’ here: This article is not a ‘manual’, and so of course it doesn’t remotely cover all the details of the precise pathways that those three authors had to take – there’s far more to it than meets the eye.
If you’re interested in learning more about the e-Publishing process, I cover it in more detail in module 6 of my Twitter For Authors Mini-Course. (In that course I’ll also show how to build a Twitter following that will drive more sales of your e-book, including how to properly engage with book bloggers.)
What do you think of eBooks as a way to get a ‘traditional’ print publishing deal? Do you have an eBook planned, or even written?
Please do leave a comment below.