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What It Takes for a Publisher to Want Your Book: The Real Deal

I see you, aspiring authors. You’ve got an incredible story—maybe it’s about riding on the back of a shark from Alaska to Hawaii. Sounds like a blockbuster, right? Well, not so fast. Getting a book published is a bit like harnessing a shark—not as easy as you might think.


Here’s the real deal about what publishers are looking for and how you can make your story irresistible to them.


Finish the Story Before You Write It

First things first, your story needs a killer ending. It needs to be complete. In our shark-rider's case, you need to make it to Hawaii to complete the epic journey. Without this, the story feels unfinished—and publishers love a satisfying conclusion. So, if your story has an epic final chapter, make sure it's there! If you’re still planning your odyssey or partway through, absolutely chronicle it, but wait until you can write “The End” in the most powerful way possible.


Demonstrate Ongoing Interest

Publishers are like sharks—they smell blood (or in this case, buzz) and they’re on it. For your book to be appealing, you need to show that there’s already interest in your story. National media coverage, viral articles, a growing social media following, or becoming a sought-after speaker can all make your book more attractive. Basically, you need to prove that people are already hooked on your story and want more.


Show Me the (National) Love

Our shark-rider’s story might start with local media coverage or quirky blog posts, but for a publisher to take a big bite, you’ll need to amplify that buzz. National recognition is a huge plus. If your story is getting attention locally, think about how you can expand that reach. Maybe pitch your story to larger publications or pitch yourself as a guest on popular podcasts.


Blow Your Own Trumpet

Here’s a tough one for the shy and humble folks: you’ve got to toot your own horn. A lot. Publishers want authors who are ready to champion their books, not just during the writing process, but through the entire promotional journey. We’re talking not just months, but years. If you’re hesitant to talk up your story, it might be a hard sell. You need to be your own biggest fan—if you aren’t ready to get out there and speak or write about it (beyond the covers of your book), how will people even know it exists?


Get a Confident Writing Partner

If you’re not the type to blow your own trumpet, consider getting a writing partner who will. This person should be someone who believes passionately in your story and isn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops. A confident co-writer or ghostwriter can be the key to transforming your personal tale into a compelling book pitch that publishers can’t resist. Be prepared, though: you’ll still need to be the “face” of the book, prepared to do interviews, podcasts, speaking, articles, whatever it takes for the world to hear about you.


Keep the Momentum Going

The road to publication is long, and you need to keep the momentum going. Just like a very long shark ride, pacing is key. Stay active on social media, keep engaging with your audience, and look for opportunities to share your story. The more you stay in the public eye, the more attractive your story becomes to potential publishers.


Conclusion: Your Story, Their Next Best Seller

So, there you have it. Getting a publisher to snap up your book involves a compelling, complete story, proven interest from a wide audience, and a lot of self-promotion. If you’ve got an inspiring tale, don’t let it gather dust. Ride that shark, both literally and figuratively, and get your story out there. Who knows? Your journey could be the next bestseller waiting to happen.

Photo by Elianne Dipp




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