My most recent book is The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively, which was released in March 2014 by Writer’s Digest Books, the same publisher who produced my first book, How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time. It really is the definitive guide to becoming a successful author.
The Author Training Manual offers aspiring authors, or even published authors with a new book idea, a process to help them produce marketable book ideas—ones that sell. The exercises it contains train them to become successful authors by helping them develop an Author Attitude, produce a business plan for their books and evaluate themselves and their ideas through the same lens used by agents and acquisitions editors. It’s meant for any writer with a book idea, whether they write fiction or nonfiction, plan to self-publish or traditionally publish, because they all need the tool and skills used by publishing professionals. This allows them to determine if a book idea is a viable product in a target market.
Once they have the tool and skills, they can apply their creativity and craft to the business of creating a marketable idea—one that will sell, or get read, and impact readers.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in New York City but grew up at the base of the Catskill Mountains about an hour north of the city. My mother encouraged me to write, but not novels. She thought only “really good writers” could make careers as novelists. So I chose to get a degree in magazine journalism, which set me on the path to become a nonfiction writer. (However, I have one novel I wrote that I hope one day to edit and publish.)
Thinking back, I was surrounded to some extent by writers. On of my parents’ best friends was a writer—I can’t remember what he wrote… Novels? Short stories? Plays? All of the above? He encouraged my writing. Another friend was a screenwriter, and after I graduated from college he hired me twice to write the float descriptions for the Rose Bowl parade.
My mother also wrote…short articles for the Audobon Society and even a short children’s book, but it wasn’t published.
I started writing in elementary or middle school…stories about horses. I journaled for many years. I wrote short stories in high school and college. I revitalized and ran the high school newspaper and even wrote a bi-weekly high school news column for the local newspaper for two years. In college, I wrote for campus publications. During the summer I freelanced or found internships so I could get bylines.
I had lots of clips when I graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and got my first job as an editor on a regional magazine right outside of Manhattan.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book when I realized that writing a book proposal was much more than just that—writing a proposal. It provided a process whereby an aspiring author could actually evaluate a book idea for marketability and then improve that idea, if necessary to make it viable—salable. It also provided a way for a writer to evaluate himself or herself to determine readiness for publication.
I didn’t really enjoy writing proposals, but I realized the value, especially when I finished and knew I had created a marketable book idea and I felt 100% ready to write that book. That was a precious moment!
I wanted other aspiring authors to experience that and to create books that would sell. There’s nothing worse than spending months or years writing a book only to discover it won’t sell—not to a publisher or to readers. It doesn’t matter how you publish, this is the worst heartbreak for an author.
So, I wanted to help writers learn to create business plans for their books—not just proposals, business plans for any type of book, for any way they planned to publish, so they increased their odds of succeeding. That means producing a book that will sell at least an above average number of copies or meet their own definition of success.
How did you choose the title?
Well, that’s an interesting story. At first, I called the book The Proposal Process. In fact, in How to Blog a Book, I talk about the process of producing a business plan for your book using that terminology.
Then, I produced a workbook based on the concept because I was using the process with my coaching clients. I called the workbook How to Evaluate Your Book for Success. I liked that title and sold a fair number of workbooks. However, a literary agent I know told me the title was no good. She said, “No one likes to evaluate anything.”
Then, one day I was on Twitter and saw a tweet go by. It said, “Why is there no manual for authors?”
I thought to myself, “There is! It’s my book.” I changed the title to The Author Training Manual.
However, I had a subtitle that said something about 9 Steps… The publisher got rid of that and added the very long subtitle the book now has—which is filled with lovely keywords and targets its primary audiences.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Interestingly enough, this book was supposed to be published before How to Blog a Book, or that was the plan. My agent at the time had gotten one or two rejections when I gave her the proposal for How to Blog a Book. I told her I wanted her to get that out quickly, so The Author Training Manual was shelved.
When we did propose it to Writer’s Digest Books a year and a half or so later, it was actually turned down by the pub board twice, although the publisher, Phil Sexton, liked it and wanted it—and took it to the pub board both times.
Phil came back to us and asked if I would be able to write a longer book. The pub board didn’t like the fact that I had proposed a 40,000-word book. They wanted at least a 50,000-word book. Of course, I said, “No problem!”
In the end, the book was over word count by a good bit. By the time we added in the sample business plans (I actually had quite a few more than the four that made it into the book) and the revised workbook (now called training exercises), it was a really long book! We almost had to cut a huge amount of the manuscript, but the design team did some magic and fit it all in (except for the extra samples).
Do you have any writing rituals?
I like to come into my office and create sacred space—make the work sacred to allow me to tap into something Higher even if I’m doing more than writing. I could be answering email, blogging (which is writing), working on a manuscript, or coaching. I want the work I do in my office to be sacred—extra-ordinary rather than mundane.
I light a candle and set intentions for the day. I light another candle and call in my guides and God to assist me. I light incense and I might even use sage to smudge in Native American tradition. I might use chimes to change the energy in the room from that of the day before. If I have time, I meditate for 5-20 minutes—sometimes at my desk, sometimes upstairs in a spare room I call the meditation room. (It’s also the guest room.)
If I have received any type of messages in meditation, I might jot these down or even write about them in a blog post for my personal blog. Otherwise, I get to work.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am…but I can’t reveal much. I will say it is something that pertains directly to How to Blog a Book, and it will be released in early 2015.
I also am working on three ebooks, one of which was supposed to be published prior to the release of The Author Training Manual. The Nonfiction Book Proposal Demystified should be out very soon, and on its tail an ebook about building a business around your book and then one at the end of the year about building a better blog.
Besides that, I have two book proposals I am starting on this summer, one related to writing for change and one related to author coaching. The latter is a spin-off of The Author Training Manual’s; it goes into depth about first step, which about Author Attitude.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t decide to become an author thinking all you will do is write a book. Successful authors must do so much more. Really, any author must do so much more.
Go in with your eyes wide open—educated, aware, ready.
And develop an Author Attitude, because it will help you embrace all necessary tasks on the way to successful authorship.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Anyone who wants to succeed as an author. By that I mean aspiring and published authors who want their books to sell to readers, and, possibly, first, to a publisher. Writers who want their books to get read and have positive and meaningful impact in their target markets—on their readers. Writers who want to create careers as authors and businesses around their books. Writers who want to start successful publishing companies. Writers who want to understand how agents and acquisitions think and evaluate work so they can produce ideas that meet that criteria—for publishers or for their own indie companies. Writers who want to sell more than 250 copies of their printed book and 550 copies of their ebooks per year—who want to be more than average.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
They can find me and all that I do at www.ninaamir.com.
They can find all my blogs at www.ninaamir.com or they can go directly to:
Also…. www.mysoncandance.comBuy The Author Training Manual at Amazon.com