When should you start talking to a publisher?

Planning on writing a book? Here's what you need to know

If you're planning on writing a book when’s the best time to contact a publisher? I am often asked this question and my answer is ‘as soon as possible!’

Of course, I’m answering from the position of a business book publisher. Most of our Major Street authors publish a book to showcase their expertise in an area of business or investing. They see the value of having a quality publication to use in business lead-generation, to educate their clients and endorse them as an ‘authority’ in their specialist area.

Be strategic when you are planning your book

If I can talk to prospective authors early on then I can remind them of how important it is to shape their book to focus it on who they want to read it and what they really need to say to make it an invaluable marketing tool for their business. There’s no use writing a book on setting up a business if what your company does is provide exit strategy planning – to give you just one example of a misaligned book strategy.

It’s never too early to talk to publishers

I met with the authors of two new books that Major Street is releasing in August Leadership Matters and Why Purpose Matters – at the really early stage of the publishing process. Both books were just apples in their authors’ eyes, so to speak, when we had our opening meetings.

David Pich CEO of the Institute of Managers and Leaders, contacted me when he and his author team had decided about a title for their book and they had researched the topic to find the 7 skills of very successful leaders. Dave had ideas about global leaders he wanted to interview for the book, and guest experts had been shortlisted to contribute to the chapters. But the complete manuscript was many months away. Nevertheless, we drafted contracts and supported Dave and his team every step of the way.

Nicholas Barnett, CEO of Insync Surveys, had written two books already, both published by Major Street, and he wanted his third to be slightly different. So Nick and I had a several chats about the direction and approach of the third book, Why Purpose Matters (co-authored with Rodney Howard) over more than a two-year period, before his final vision for the book became clear.

How to find the best publisher for you

When you are looking for a publisher, my advice would be:

  • Find someone you like, because publishing can be a long process
  • Work with a publisher who is happy to offer free advice and support
  • Choose a publisher who takes the time a build a relationship with you
  • Publish with someone who shares your vision for the book
  • Insist that the process is collaborative – it should be a team effort.

Drive your book from the top

You will notice that the two books that I mention in this article were both driven by the CEOs of the organisations behind the publications. It really helps the process if your publisher can work with the decision-maker, the book is a priority for your organisation and the process is driven from the top.

If you're ready to start talking to publishers about a book you are planning to write, I'd love to hear from you.


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