How I Got Published (or How a Publisher Found Me)

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AKRON, Ohio (June 2010)

Warning! Don’t try this at home.

If you’re reading this article, odds are you have a book you’d like someone to publish. I once stood in your shoes. But after checking out the publishing industry, and not wanting to do the leg work involved in finding a publisher, I took off those shoes and put on the self-publishing hat.

I formed my own little company, found a local printer who happened to be a national distributor, educated myself about ISBN numbers, the Library of Congress, book fairs and book signings, and how to become a news-talk radio guest. I was tooling along, selling a few books here and there. I’d learned not to expect too much. After all, with millions of books for sale on Amazon, who would notice me, unless they were specifically looking?

But someone was looking. My topic was a timely one, in the news day after day. A New York publisher was checking out the market, looking to see what had been published. She came upon my book, ordered it, and best of all, she liked it.

One day I got an email. At first I didn’t recognize the importance of it. I was fairly content, selling a few books here and there, wetting my feet in the radio market, doing a few lectures and book signings. But at least I was smart enough to answer her inquiry about my book.

We emailed back and forth a few times, then talked on the phone. Yes, they were interested in publishing the book, but I had no platform. Who would buy my book? Would I start a blog? At first it sounded like too much work. Where would I find the time? But I learned a little about the blogging community and became a blogger myself. And the publisher loved it!

They made me an offer, and what’s more, put my book on the fast track – less than 8 months from initial contact to publication. The release date is only a few months away. Who knows where that will take me?

So I’m grateful, and honored, and still wondering how it all came to be. (My mom is so proud.)

Will this approach work for you? Like I said, don’t try this at home.

But if you want to give it a whirl, the best advice I can give is 1) choose a timely topic, and 2) do your homework. Learn all you can about the publishing industry. Learn about the importance of platform building and consider what you can do to promote yourself. If you do snag a publisher you’ll need to know all you can about book marketing anyway. If you self-publish, make sure your contact information is included in the book, including an email where you can be reached day or night.

And if this approach to being published works for you, look me up and tell me your story.

Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, M.D.

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