So, you want to write a book — Advice for prospective authors


Each week I am approached by someone who wants advice on publishing a book. It is clear that so many people are eager to share their life experiences and insights with the world, and are looking for guidance about finding a reputable publisher who is eager to publisher their work. As someone who has done this a few times, with four different publishers, I will share what I know. This guidance is specifically for nonfiction books… I know nothing about publishing fiction.

Keep in mind that publishers are just like venture capitalists.

Publishers need to invest in new books. And, they need to invest in books that have a high probability of success. Just like venture capitalists, they know that most of their investments will not be home runs, so they need to invest in those books that have a real chance of breaking out. They look at several factors to evaluate the probability of success.

  • Publishers want authors who already have credibility on the subject. For example, if you are writing about science, they want a scientist with domain expertise. It is even better if you are at a well known institution that also confers credibility. If you are writing about gardening, then you need to be able to prove that you are a master gardener. And, if you are writing about baseball, then you need to demonstrate that you know more about the sport than your readers.

I hope this has been helpful, and welcome input from those who have something to add or a completely different point of view.

Happy Writing!

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Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Stanford. Author, What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, inGenius, Creativity Rules