The Sourcebooks Story
Here's some background on Dan Burns' publisher, taken from their website: "In 1987, a determined Dominique Raccah left a promising career with advertising giant Leo Burnett, cashed in $17,000 from her 401K plan and launched a publishing house from her upstairs bedroom in Naperville, Illinois. She called it Sourcebooks. "Over the years, Sourcebooks has grown and flourished by following its independent vision, and by publishing extraordinary authors and unique books with readers in mind. Noted for its strong publicity and marketing efforts on behalf of its authors and retailers, Sourcebooks stands today as one of the leading independent book publishers in North America. "Founded with one title, Financial Sourcebooks Sources, Sourcebooks initially focused on publishing professional finance titles and books for bankers. In the early 1990s, Sourcebooks had its initial success in bookstores with business titles like The Small Business Survival Guide and The Complete Book of Business Plans, titles that continue to thrive for the company today. "Sourcebooks also began expanding outside business and finance with a highly successful gift book for women entitled Finding Time. In 1993, Sourcebooks partnered with retailer Sally Beauty Supply to develop and publish 500 Beauty Solutions, later expanded to 1001 Beauty Solutions. These books led to Sourcebooksí first six-figure print run, and furthered its reach into other general trade books and nonbookstore markets. From the early 1990s to today, self-help, parenting, business and reference paperbacks have always formed a backbone of the Sourcebooks list. "In 1997, just ten years after its conception, Sourcebooks was listed by trade magazine Publishers Weekly as the sixth-fastest-growing small publisher in the country; it would move up to No. 3 the next year. Its 1999 appearance at No. 2 was Sourcebooksí final time on the list ó the company is now too large to be eligible. Sourcebooksí sales figures also reflected its success by doubling every two years during this era. "Sourcebooksí growth has also been due in part to frequent acquisitions of imprints that continue to thrive today. In 1996, Sourcebooks added Casablanca Press with its love- and romance-oriented self-help books, including the legendary bestseller 1001 Ways To Be Romantic by Gregory Godek. Now dubbed Sourcebooks Casablanca, the imprint has grown to encompass relationship, sex and wedding titles and in 2007 began publishing romance fiction." Read the rest of the story HERE.
Looking Back at the Experience of a Lifetime
An Interview with Author Dan BurnsAfter a twenty-five year career as a businessman and entrepreneur, Dan Burns left it all behind to pursue a career as a full-time writer. This past May, Dan successfully published his first book, a non-fiction work titled, The First 60 Seconds (Sourcebooks 2009). The first print run of five thousand copies sold out in five months, and heís not looking back as he continues to promote the book and prepares for what comes next.
Like most writers, getting a book published was a long-held dream for Dan and the process he followed proved to be an experience of a lifetime. Like many published authors, the process didnít exactly follow the original plan Dan envisioned. How did he get published by one of the hottest indie publishers on the first try? We talked with him to ask that question and to take a look back at what he learned from his experience as he prepares for his next writing project.
IP: Congratulations on the success of your first book. Letís start at the beginning and share with us how you went about selling the idea for your book, The First 60 Seconds.
DB: The idea for the book was in my head for years. I was passionate about the topic and confident I could bring a fresh perspective to an already crowded segment of the market. I loved the idea of selling the book before committing fully to the project, but that was also the biggest challenge. I knew I had to craft a proposal that was a slam dunk, one where the editor could easily envision the market potential from a success and a monetary standpoint.
IP: What would you say was the one aspect of your proposal that sold your editor at Sourcebooks?
DB: Through my research, I knew that Sourcebooks was a leader in the career segment I was pursuing. Itís so important that an author target their book or proposal to an editor and publisher that has had success with similar titles. I wanted my proposal to be comprehensive enough to cover all the expectations and questions that an editor might have. My proposal included a clear and concise summary, a detailed outline, the actual table of contents I envisioned, author information, and a comprehensive marketing summary, which I felt was the most important section. With the marketing summary I conveyed details of the target markets for the book, total market potential, a comprehensive marketing plan, and a competitive analysis of successful books in the segment along with how my book stood apart. I summed it up with details regarding why my book would be successful, in book sales and dollars. My goal was to put my editor in a position to sell my work to himself and then to other decision makers.
IP: Tell us about your writing process.
DB: I rented an office above a storefront in town would walk there after taking my kids to school. Thereís no phone, no Internet, and most important no distractions. I set a goal to write a thousand words a day and wouldnít leave the office until I satisfied that goal. The book was a big project and it was important for me to set weekly goals, breaking the book into smaller pieces so I could see my progress. At the end of each of the five sections, I would edit and revise before moving on. I had a very developed outline and plan that really worked for me and kept me on track, allowing me to deliver a complete manuscript in five months.
IP: What surprised you most about the writing process?
DB: You think the hardest part about the writing process is the writing, and it is. But I mistakenly had the impression that once I was done writing, I was pretty much done with the process. I was surprised to learn that I was really just getting started. I learned quickly about the editing, manuscript preparation, printing, distribution, and publicity efforts to come.
IP: Authors have a variety of experiences regarding the editing process. How do you feel about your experience?
DB: Early on, I admit I never thought much of the idea of someone editing my writing. I didnít know any better and thought if I spent the time, made the effort, and was actually able to get something down on the page, the last thing I wanted was for any of it to get cut or changed. I think deep down most writers may have that fear at some point in their career.
But Iíve seen the light. My experience with the editing process was one of the best and most rewarding aspects of the entire experience. I learned so much about how to be a better writer. My editing team at Sourcebooks, Inc. assisted and educated me through the process and the book was significantly better as a result. We started with developmental editing, focusing on the idea, content, and structure. Then we moved on to copyediting, fine-tuning and cleaning up the copy making it suitable for publication. And just when I thought I was done, we proceeded with three additional comprehensive reviews of the manuscript to make sure it was just right.
Every step in the editing process was beneficial. There were conversations, suggestions, and ultimately revisions. As we completed each step, the manuscript was significantly improved. In the end, ten percent of what I had originally written was cut, and should have been. We cut the unnecessary, the redundant, and the unclear words, and I had the opportunity to add to my manuscript to further develop areas where it was necessary.
The editing process is a mandatory requirement, whether you work with a publisher or decide to go it alone. If I had self published, I can say with certainty that I would not have gone through the same number of steps, with the same level of review, and my work would have suffered as a result. Itís important to embrace the editing process and take your work to the next level. If youíre going to self-publish, hire a good editor. The better the editing process, the better the end product will be, and the greater the chance that the writing will be well received by readers.
IP: Can you share with us a little insight regarding the publicity process for your book.
DB: Publicity came too late in my own planning process and I realize now you really have to make a personal effort and investment to publicize your book. Like most writers, I focused on the writing, working to come up with good content that people would want to read. I knew I would be involved in publicity and I even had a website developed months before the book was published. We were on an aggressive schedule, and my publisher had a publicity plan and approach that we effectively implemented once the book went to print. They did a great job of getting me broad, national exposure, but I learned quickly about what is and is not realistic for a publisher to provide. I understood they had hundreds of books coming to market, all needing publicity, and all with authors wanting more focused attention. So I thought about what else I could do to help create awareness.
A book doesnít sell if people donít know about it, and publicity is the answer. I wanted to pursue additional publicity efforts I knew were beyond what my publisher could help me with. So I hired an additional publicist to work closely with me and my publicist from Sourcebooks. It was very complementary. The investment was reasonable and we were able to broaden our publicity reach significantly. To date, Iíve done over thirty-five radio interviews, seven television appearances, and nine public speaking engagements, along with continuous marketing through my website and a variety of Internet networking platforms. And Iím just getting started.
I know now that publicity needs to start before the writing even begins, or as early as possible. Your book or author website, social networking accounts, and your comprehensive publicity plan ó covering a period six months before and twelve months after the publication of your work, needs to be fresh in your mind early in the process. In addition to being best prepared to make your writing known, developing a publicity plan before the writing begins (or is finished) can help you fine tune your work for the market and can help ďsellĒ a prospective editor or publisher.
IP: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
DB: Iíve been thinking about it and planning it for over ten years. I always believed in my ability and itís been a long held dream of mine to someday have a book published. Deciding to put my other business interests aside to focus on my family and writing is the best decision I could have made. As for the writing, itís the most fun Iíve ever had. Thereís nothing more rewarding than getting the words, the paragraphs, and the stories down onto the page and then in retrospect wondering where it all came from.
IP: Overall, how was you experience working with an independent publisher?
DB: It was the experience of a lifetime and better than I ever expected. Iíve read about difficulties and challenges of other writers trying to get published and I must say I was fortunate that my experience was nothing but positive. The entire team at Sourcebooks believed in my book as much as I did and together we worked hard to produce a great book. I learned so much through the process and Iím really happy with the end result. I hope we have the opportunity to work on many more projects in the future.
IP: Whatís next?
DB: I still have a lot to do with keeping the momentum going for my first book and I have speaking engagements and publicity events scheduled through the summer. The next book in The First 60 Seconds series is currently in the works and I have a number of fiction projects in various stages of development. I just completed my first feature film screenplay, which Iím really excited about and I expect to have my first novel completed next year.
IP: Thank you so much for you time. Before we go, could you sum up again the key things you learned from your experience that can benefit other writers as they strive to get their writing published?
DB: First, be passionate about your work. Your passion will come through in your writing. Understand the markets for your writing and if you want to sell your work, provide editors and publishers with the information they need in order to accept your work. Make the decision easy for them by answering all of their questions ó before theyíre asked, and lay out a very clear and positive cost/benefit scenario. If you want others to read your writing, start thinking about publicity as soon in the writing process as possible and make a personal investment to do as much publicity as you can. The life and the success of your book depends on it. Lastly, and as important as all the rest, have fun and really enjoy your writing.
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Dan Burns has realized a successful twenty-five year career as a corporate manager, entrepreneur, educator, business owner, and now as a full-time writer. For 14 years he served as owner and Executive Vice President of a national technical and management consulting company, providing consulting and employee placement services to Fortune 500 companies and helping people successfully obtain their next great career opportunity. Dan received and Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University and a M.B.A. degree from DePaul University.
Check out the book's website, www.thefirst60seconds.com
The First 60 Seconds shows job seekers how best to impress in that crucial first minute -- and before -- and gives strategies to constantly differentiate themselves from the competition. From preparing a unique and differentiating credentials package to effectively connecting with the interviewer, candidates will learn how to proactively set themselves apart every time -- especially essential with a 10.0% national unemployment rate (December 2009).
The First 60 Seconds: Win The Job Interview Before It Begins, by Dan Burns
Sourcebooks, Inc. (May 2009)
288 page softcover; $12.99