Have you ever thought about writing a coaching book? Published author and PR expert Alison Theaker explains how to clinch that elusive publishing deal.
Getting the word out
How do coaches differentiate themselves in an ever crowded marketplace? Several specialise in particular areas of coaching, but another way to underpin your experience is to write a book.
Despite the plethora of communication channels available, books are still in demand. Not everyone can manage a Kindle, and reading on screen is 25% more difficult than reading hard copy.
If you decide that you would like to see your name in print, there are two ways to go – either persuade a publisher that you have a good idea, or self publish. Both routes have their advantages and drawbacks. In this article I’ll explain how you persuade a publisher. For information on how to self-publish a coaching book take a look here.
Publishing for coaches
Look at the kinds of coaching books that are already out there in the marketplace and research the possible competition.
- What do you have to say about the subject that is different to the others?
- Who publishes the kinds of book you think you want to write?
Look in the Writers and Artists Yearbook for the contact details of the publishers you’ve pinpointed. That normally gives advice on what subjects they are looking for. See who the commissioning editor is in your subject. Can you think of a three sentence synopsis of your book? Call up the commissioning editor and have an initial chat – a good way to start building a relationship.
What will the publisher expect?
Each publisher will have a standard proposal form to fill in. You’ll be asked for title, draft contents, an estimation of the market and how your book will stack up against the competition. Some also ask for a sample chapter if you have not published before. They will also ask for your CV and a justification of why you are the right person to write this book. Don’t be shy here!
The editorial team
Your proposal is normally first discussed at an editorial team meeting, which are often held only once a month. At that stage, the team decide which ones to go forward with. You may be asked to amend or expand it, and then they will send it out to peer reviewers – experts in the field – who will be asked to comment on whether your proposal is reasonable or not. If you have managed to jump through all the hoops, then, as Agatha Christie said, “you just have to find time to write the thing!” Make sure you have a realistic timescale set out in your contract.
How much will I get paid for my coaching book?
You may also find that you get a small advance – mine was £1,000 for my first text book. That doesn’t sound bad until you factor in that it took me 18 months to write it! Then the advance comes off your royalties until the publisher has made that amount back – and your royalties are likely only to be 6% or less of the price that the publishers receive for your book – not even the cover price. Some bookshops expect at least 40% off the cover price to sell a book, and discounts may be higher for some suppliers.
It’s not just about the royalties
Once you have finally got the copy in, corrected the proofs and put together the index, you can sit back and let the publisher print and market your coaching book. You will also get a few free copies that you can put on your bookshelf or show to prospective clients.
You can also use the book on all your marketing materials and link to the publisher’s website and Amazon to encourage people to buy it. If your book is successful, the publisher may come back to you for further updates and editions, all with new contracts, advances and royalties.
It’s great if you get to the stage of writing updates and new editions – it is never as strenuous to write further editions as the first one. My own textbooks have gone to 3 editions each, and I am in the process of putting together a fourth edition of the most popular one. They have also been translated into other languages, and each time that happens you get another one-off payment.
The most fun I had was turning up for the launch of the textbook in Croatia to find 100 people had paid to hear me speak and take away a signed copy – the champagne reception might have had something to do with it though!
The timescale is more lengthy than you might imagine. The edition I have in preparation now was agreed in March and the deadline for copy is February. The book will not appear on the shelves until next September. Once it is out there, I should make my advance back in about six months, and after that the royalty cheques will come in once a year. So after your advance, you may be looking at two years before any more money starts rolling in.
If you are keen to write a coaching book then take time to do your research. By approaching the right publisher in a professional way you will greatly enhance the chances of your coaching book being published.
about the author
Alison Theaker www.thesparkuk.com has 25 years experience in public relations and management as a practitioner and academic. Her textbook, ‘The Public Relations Handbook’ is a core text on professional and undergraduate courses and has been translated into three languages. She is experienced in writing clear copy and editing publications. Alison is also a PR coach to small businesses in Devon and across the UK.