How I Got a Book Deal, Part One

How I Got Book Deal with Book Image

This post is part one in my series about how I got a book deal with Wiley and Sons.

In order to explain exactly how I was able to sign a book deal with John Wiley and Sons (and how I finished an in-depth book on Pinterest marketing in less than six weeks) I need to start the story a couple of months before the book deal started brewing.

The story actually started back in August 2011. At that time, I made a decision to take more active steps to build my website traffic and increase the amount of subscribers to my mailing list.

I knew that guest posting on popular blogs was one of the best ways to build traffic, so decided to sign up for Jon Morrow’s course on Guest Blogging so I could learn more about how to land great guest posting gigs. I had heard great things about Jon’s course, and even though the course tuition was a financial stretch for me at the time, I knew I needed to go for it.

My goal – even though it scared the hell out of me to even think about it – was to get a guest post on Copyblogger. The Copyblogger team is known for being extremely picky with their guest posts – they only accepted posts from great writers who had outstanding, unique ideas that created high value for their audience. Lots of people wanted to write for Copyblogger, but only a few were lucky (and skilled) enough to land those coveted spots.

I figure if anyone could teach me how to successfully break into the Copyblogger world, it was Jon Morrow. Jon is not only the associate editor for Copyblogger, but he has had more posts go viral on the CB site than any other writer I know. The man seemed to have some golden formula for writing – and I wanted to learn it.

I signed up for the course and got started with the materials right away. One big advantage to taking a course that is a considerable financial investment for me was that I was highly motivated to learn all the material and follow through with the lessons. I figured if I was paying a lot for the course, I really wanted to get everything I could out of it!

The course content was top-notch. Jon led the group through a series of instructional videos that explained how to begin identifying and networking with popular bloggers in order to get to know them before approaching them for guest posting spots.  The videos also gave students a great process for reaching out to bloggers with their guest post ideas, and for writing great posts that would resonate with readers and go viral on popular sites. The videos were chock full of incredibly useful information.

The class forum was another extremely valuable part of the course. The very active forum was where students could receive feedback on their guest post headline ideas. Jon also allowed students to post the full text of their possible guest posts, so the community members (and Jon) could review them and give feedback. I posted a few articles there, hoping the forum members could help me craft something that would be a good fit for Copyblogger.

One of the posts, “7 Reasons No One Reads Your Blog (Except Maybe Your Mom)” got the approval of the forum community, but I received feedback from Jon that it wasn’t quite right for Copyblogger. He encouraged me to submit it to Problogger, instead, and said he thought it had a good chance of being published on that site.

I submitted it to Problogger, and was thrilled when they accepted it and ran it a few weeks later. The post ended up being a fairly successful article for Problogger, and I was delighted to pick up a couple hundred people for my mailing list. That was when I knew I was I was totally hooked on this guest posting thing – it was a brilliant way to get more traffic!

Then I came up with my next idea for a Copyblogger post – “The Glee Guide to Attracting a Raving Horde of Social Media Fans.” I posted the text of the post in Jon Morrow’s guest blogging course forum and crossed my fingers.

Jon really liked the post, and recommended it for submission to Copyblogger. I was elated.

Jon helped me submit the post to the powers that be at Copyblogger, and I held my breath and waited for a response. I didn’t hear anything for a couple of months, so I followed Jon’s advice and followed up after about two months. Shortly after I sent my follow-up note, I heard back from Copyblogger and got the good news – they liked the post and wanted to publish it on January 26th!

The day the post came out, I was delighted. After years of hoping to find a way to break into the Copyblogger family, seeing my name in print on the site was thrilling. The Glee post didn’t get a huge response, but I felt like it was a decent first effort for the Copyblogger folks.

I knew from the Jon Morrow course that the way to really make guest posting work for you is not just to do one post for a popular blog, but to run multiple posts.

The night the Glee post was published, I gathered up all my courage and wrote to my Copyblogger editor. I thanked him again for the opportunity to publish a guest post with them, and asked if I could submit more ideas for follow-up posts.

He wrote back right away, congratulated me on my first Copyblogger post, and said he’d love to get first crack at any new ideas I might have.

I sent the editor ten of my best headline ideas, not having any idea whether he would like any of them. I figured that if I sent him ten ideas, maybe he would like one or two that I could work on as a follow-up post to my first Glee article.

I was delighted when I got his email reply back and he told me he loved eight of the ideas! He sent them back in a list in the order that he wanted me to submit them in, so I had my work cut out for me.

The next post he wanted me to work on was about using Pinterest for marketing your business. I knew Pinterest was a really hot topic, and that Copyblogger would likely be in a hurry to receive the post, so I busted my butt writing the article and sent them the post about a week later.

Stay tuned to hear about the major breakthrough I had with this Pinterest post!

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Comments

  1. Beth,

    Hello! I am learning so much from your blog. I have loved writing for as long as I can remember and have three articles published for magazines but my query letters to agents for a book deal for a memoir resulted in a couple of handwritten letters with advice (which I almost framed!). I had no idea that blogging would feed my writer’s soul until recently. I am writing a memoir, chapter by chapter, as a blog. My goal is to reach people to give hope, not to make dollars. Do you know if any of these types of blogs out there that may be looking for guest posts? I’m so excited to read your future installments on this topic! And…soon you will be working on my business website…lots of ideas percolating in this brain.

    • Hi, Linda! I don’t know any blogs like that off the top of my head, but I would check Google Blog Search (http://www.google.com/blogsearch) and Technorati (http://www.technorati.com) for blogs in specific areas that might be a good fit. And it’s a good idea to read blogs in your niche, anyway, to look for ideas and spot areas of content that no one else is covering. Good luck! Looking forward to working with you in the future!

  2. Beth, your posts make me as happy as my hoopdance classes do! You give excellent tips with enthusiasm that makes me want to jump right in and whirl those posts up my bod and twirl them over my head. ;-D The edits for my forthcoming book go off to my publisher today, so I’ll soon be indulging the love for blogging I got from you.

  3. Beth, I love your honesty and helpful way of just telling your story. Congratulations on your leap of faith to take the course and your courage to follow through. (Lots of quitters out there in the world!) And congratulations on getting onto both those blogs – that is HUGE!

    I am an artist, not a writer. Writing is enjoyable to me, but not my goal in life. I post to my blog 4-5 times a week, and it is my goal to get more readers simply so I can sell more art.

    Is this too self-serving? Any honest response from you would be gladly accepted!

    • Hi Jana! I don’t think that’s too self-serving – most people create blogs to market businesses, artwork, books, etc. You just have to be careful to make sure that your content is valuable and interesting to your audience (and that it’s not all self-promotional). Good luck!

  4. Beth,
    First time reader here. I will definitely be looking around & coming back, thank you for the great info.
    ~Tracy~

  5. Beth! This is so FUN to relive with you! I’ve got my copy of your new book, Pinfluence, pre-ordered. CANNOT WAIT to get my hands on it! Thank you thank you for sharing all that you know!

    • Thanks, Tamara! Thanks for being there from the very beginning and being so supportive! I really appreciate it! :)

  6. Susan Mary White says:

    Hi Beth – I really enjoyed this post. I too believe we create our own good fortune with work and personal discipline. You are a great example, I admire your honesty and it’s always fun to read your posts. Thanks, Susan

  7. Yay Beth! Enjoying reading this… when you’re rich & famous you can come visit us in England! :-)

  8. Hi Beth,

    You have given me inspiration down here in little New Zealand. Your writing is great and so easy and uncluttered. Your ideas are great too. When I grow up (um … er … well) I would love to be a good writer.
    Thanks for the honesty of your post. Good luck!
    Leigh

  9. thanks for your inspiration, Beth! I always learn something from you and am inspired to read more.

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