I have had the luck and opportunity to be a published author four times, and still the publishing world is quite enigmatic. Anyone who has written a book, or has thought about doing it, is familiar with the arduous process of finding an agent and then a publisher. Each one of my books, Get Noticed, Get Referrals; Networking Magic; Guerrilla Publicity; and of course, this book, were pitched to many publishers via a sales tool called a book proposal. A book proposal is like any other business plan, except much longer. The document is basically a conversation starter, a means to open a dialogue about what you are “proposing” to write and why the publisher should support it. In the publishing industry, the proposal is the first means of making a connection between an author and an editor. The way I went about pitching my book is no different than how you will pitch yourself and your business to your customers.
First, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. They have limited time, limited funds, and limited attention, so what about you or your business is so appealing that it would make them forego those things and hire or buy from you? This is especially true when your product or service is not a necessity like toilet paper. When proposing each one of my books, I would put myself in the publishers’ position: In an industry more crowded than ever and at a time when marketing and selling books is tougher than ever, why would a publisher dare spend a dime to pay me to write a book? With all the books they have published in the past, and the ones to come in the future, why this book? Why should they expect to sell this one, this year? And to whom will they sell? And why am I the right person to write a book about any of the topics I have written about? I had to ask myself these questions in order to refine my message, which ultimately led me to connect with the concerns of publishers, which then enabled me to successfully connect my goal to the goal of the publisher.
In this scenario with the publisher as my customer, I must also consider who my target customer is. Obviously, it would be best to be with a business publisher, as my end reader is likely to be an entrepreneur or corporate business leader. So, am I pitching my book idea to the right customers, or am I wasting precious time and energy pitching editors who don’t publish business books, only to look like I didn’t do my homework?
In your business, when you don’t know your customer, and you try to sell to all people, you will look negligent. To know that you are in the right market that is looking for your product or service shows customers you put connection with them high on your priority list, and that means they will emotionally connect with your product. When you go wide, pitching to everyone, you look like you’re in the game solely for profit. Nobody trusts a one-dimensional salesman.
Then, I must consider where my readers look for me and when they look for me and why they are going to choose me. In fact, when it comes to book proposals, these are the most important factors. You too must communicate to your customers that you know where they live, what they need, who they care about, and what they hope for, and because you know these things, you are best suited to help them. This takes time and strategy, but people notice when you put time and hard work into your message, and they will correlate that work ethic with you truly caring about them.
Finally, let your customers know how to engage your services. Letting them know how you want to correspond is very important. Although we would hope that everyone wants to purchase what we have to offer right off the bat, that isn’t usually how sales happen. There is a trust that needs to be established, and the way we build trust is through communication. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter, call the office, visit your website, or follow your blog? Letting them know how to keep in touch with you will keep you fresh in their minds, so when they are ready to make a purchase, they know how to easily do so.