Archive for Next Top Spiritual Author
Lynn Serafinn shares thoughts on shifting from a being die-hard indie artist to approaching a major publisher.
Some of you who know me and my work might be surprised to find out that it was only a few months ago when I wrote my first full book proposal. It’s true I was a ghost-writer for another author and my work has been (anonymously) published in several books by a prominent New Age publisher. But I never needed to write proposals for those books. And it’s also true I’ve written loads of business and project proposals in my time– especially when I was the head of a college department– so I know what it takes to write a proposal to “land” a contract. But I had never written an actual book proposal for my own writing until this contest.
Why? Because most of my life, I’ve been something of a “die hard indie”. It comes from my background as an independent musician/label owner in the 1990s. Since the 80s, our band had tried to get our recordings heard by major labels, but learned quickly that it was virtually impossible to get a big label to listen to an unsolicited demo. So, we started our own label, and gradually built up a following by getting our titles into major independent distributors in the US and the UK. We reached a level of success when our release entitled the Imagine EP hit #1 on several club charts in 1994.
It was then we had a brief encounter with a major record label-one of the top 3 in the world. The A&R (the person who signs artists to the label) had been given our record as a “buzz” title from the owner of an underground record shop in Boston, and he called us from New York saying he wanted to come down and meet us in Arizona (where we lived at the time), as he was interested in signing us. Had they done so, it would have meant we would have had worldwide distribution, MTV videos and have been sent on tour with some of the biggest names in electronic dance in the world at that time. It was every musician’s dream come true.
Or so we thought.
When we actually met the A&R face-to-face, it became very obvious he had clear intentions of changing our image and sound into something we were not, and we simply didn’t want to become. Our band was an electronic trance group, but he proposed a long list of “improvements” for us, including bringing in big rock drummers and sexy young female vocalists. Being in our late 30s, the A&R more or less said we were “too old” for MTV and we would have to do something to make us “saleable.”
But the truth was, in spite of the A&R thinking we were “too old”, we were actually “too young” as artists to move into the arena of working with a major label. We weren’t used to working to deadlines and were accustomed to having the luxury of taking as long as we wanted to complete projects. We were still finding our “voice” and creating our sound, and bringing in professional producers who would impose their own “spin” on our embryonic sound threatened to stop our creative growth altogether. And from a marketing standpoint, although we had managed to get a #1 club hit, we were still just getting started on building our following and didn’t really know our target audience fully, or how to reach them at a global level. Because we had a very small platform, if the A&R changed our image as he intended, we were likely to lose the audience we already had, and not appeal to the audience to which he would be targeting.
We started to realise we simply weren’t ready for this leap. Believe it or not, I used to wake up at night with panic attacks at the thought of it! After all those years of thinking this was what I wanted, I realised something wasn’t right about it. As a result, our connection to the label just sort of dissolved after a couple of months, and our label continued on with our own independent enterprises.
My experience in the music industry certainly coloured my decision to go self-published when I was getting ready to release my book The Garden of the Soul in 2009. I figured big publishers are probably like big record labels in that you needed to know the right time to approach them. And now that I have been self-published for the past year, and have since created successful marketing campaigns for many other authors, both published and self-published, I do think my reasoning was correct.
In my experience, there are 7 main factors to consider in your decision to approach a publisher:
- Discipline. Could you make a commitment to meet writing deadlines if given them? Have you transcended the trap of ONLY being able to write when you are “inspired” or can you sit down and get into the groove when you need to?
- Stylistic maturity. Is your writing style “mature” (well past the embryonic stage)? Could others easily talk about your style and your message as compared to other books? Is your style powerful and developed enough that editors would not want to change it significantly?
- Emotionally prepared. Are you ready to “show up” as a public image? Are you ready to be seen, and critiqued? Are you ready to speak transparently on a global level? Are you ready to release your vision, unattached to whether people like it or not?
- Identity. Do you know who you are as a writer and as a person? Do you have a clear idea of your ‘public image’, i.e, who you are to your readers, fans and audience? Can you stand calmly within the wisdom of your own identity when dealing with a publisher?
- Platform. Do you have a well-established platform (i.e., a large fan base of people who know your name and your writing)? This is undoubtedly one of the major factors publishers will consider when you approach them, and something that will make it much less likely for them to try to “reshape” your image.
- Marketing. Do you know how to reach your audience? Do you understand principles of marketing? Can you explain how you would market your book to publisher in a way that would make them say, “Hey, this one has some great ideas”?
- Time Commitment. Are you ready and able to commit LOTS of time to promoting your book? Is your life free or flexible with regards to family or other work commitments? Could you travel frequently without disrupting the rest of your life?
Speaking for myself, I couldn’t give a 100% “yes” answer to any of these things when I first met the A&R back in 1994. In 2009, when I went to publish The Garden of the Soul, I’d say I had these covered about 75%. But, in my opinion, 75% wasn’t enough for me to approach a publisher at that time. Before I approached a publisher, I wanted to be able to give my full 100%. THEN the time would be right… at least for me.
When I wrote my proposal this year, I felt it to be truly a transformative process. I realised when I was writing it that I had finally reached my “100% Ready” place. I knew who I was. I felt I could write at the drop of a hat. I had a platform. I understood marketing. And most of all, I had already written my book and I completely believed in it.
Being a self-published writer was ABSOLUTELY the best thing for me when I had chosen to do so. The experience helped me develop as a person, as a writer and as a businesswoman. But now I have firmly established my platform, and really know who I am as a writer, I feel confident about making the shift to working with a publisher over the coming year… and at the same time, I also have the confidence that I am able to flourish as a proud indie author, and enjoy the ride on my own as well.
I hope you found these reflections and pointers to be of value in your own journey as an author. Please do leave a comment below to share your own thoughts and experiences.
About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors
Lynn Serafinn is a transformation coach, book promotion coach, radio host and
bestselling author of the book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers
that unearth the Self. She also works as a campaign manager for mind-body-spirit authors and has produced several #1-selling book campaigns. She is the founder/creator of Spirit Authors, a virtual learning environment and community that offers training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. As part of her work with spiritual and self-help authors, she also regularly hosts large-scale online virtual events (usually free of charge) with world-class speakers on a range of mind-body-spirit topics. Subscribe to her Spirit Authors blog at http://spiritauthors.com/category/news/ so you can receive more useful tips and news about upcoming online events. While you are there, do check out the excellent and affordable online courses for authors available. If you are an author seeking 1-to-1 support or campaign managment for your upcoming book launch, you are also invited to request a free consultation by filling in a contact form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.
In a previous post, I told you about the Next Top Spirit Author Contest in which I am a contestant. The contest is open to unpublished or self-published authors. Authors did not need to have completed (or even started) their book to enter. I entered my book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self, which I self-published just a little over a year ago. My hope is to take it to a much wider audience, and also to get some backing for the follow-up I am currently writing, A Practical Guide to the Garden of the Soul, which contains 80 practical lessons for cultivating the four principles in The Garden of the Soul.
Today (Monday May 3rd) marks the final day of Round 1. Since the contest opened to the public vote on March 29th, tens of thousands of people have voted for their favourites amongst more than 3000 entries. Now the field is going to be narrowed down to 250 who will advance to Round 2, based primarily upon their public vote, as well as a small challenge the authors were given to do.
Round 2 will be a bit different because the 250 Round 2 authors will then construct a book proposal for their book, which will go under the scrutiny of Hampton Roads publishers, who are offering the Grand Prize in the contest– a pretty nifty publishing contract. A portion of the points in Round 2 will once again come from the public vote.
So by Tuesday, thousands of authors and authors-to-be, including myself, will find out whether or not we will advance to the next phase of this competition. I can feel the energy getting really “buzzy” amongst the authors these past few days.
Although this is only Round 1, the contest has already been quite a journey. For many, the very act of creating an audio or video “pitch” was a major achievement. For others, it was the challenge of stepping out of their comfort zone to ask people to vote for them. Speaking for myself, if nothing else happens as a result of having entered this competition, I am grateful for two things: 1) being put under a deadline to make a new book trailer (I am SO pleased with how it turned out and it is getting a lot of hits on YouTube) and 2) meeting dozens of great new authors who are now connected with me on Facebook and Twitter. Both of these are great gifts in their own right.
In some ways, Round 1 has been a bit like being in the auditions for the X-Factor (our UK equivalent of “American Idol”). Behind the scenes, we have a “share” page on the contest site that is sort of our equivalent of “The X-Factor House”, where everyone hangs out together and learns the idiosyncrasies of the others. It’s really interesting to watch and interact with all the fascinating personalities there. And just like The X-Factor, while there is a lot of love and connection amongst the contestants, there is also the underlying knowledge that this is, after all, a competition, and people will be voted off, bit by bit. It could happen to any one of us. That’s the nature of any competition, and it is vital for all of us to know how to “be with” the competitive process, without allowing it to affect our sense of Self and inner determination.
When I was a young musician, I took every defeat in competitive scenarios as a blow against my self-worth. Because I grew to fear judgment and rejection, I became afraid to take risks for many years, and thus I limited my creative growth and personal empowerment for a very long time.
But these days I approach such challenges quite differently. I apply my whole self to the task, and allow myself to take the risk of being “rejected”. These days, I feel the most important thing in life is to have the self-knowledge that I did not hold myself back from applying myself fully, and that I did the absolute best I could at that particular moment.
While taking this approach to a competition (and life in general) does not ensure we will “win” a specific reward, I do believe when we are fully ready to step into both the risks and responsibilities involved in the act of succeeding, we will win the award, the title, the prize, the praise, the gift– or the learning– we are meant to receive. If you do not hold yourself back from the Universe, it will hold nothing back from you.
As far as I am concerned, the fact that everyone in the contest has stepped up to the plate and “pitched” their vision to the world makes them all winners, already on the pathway to their own dreams.
I wish all the spiritual authors in the contest the very best of luck.
If you have voted for me already, I’d like to thank you warmly for your support. And if you haven’t had a chance to yet, it would be great if you took a few minutes to do this before the end of the day today (Monday). Here’s how:
- Go to http://www.nexttopauthor.com/profile.cfm?aid=2016 and watch my video entry.
- Register to vote; they will send you a confirmation email before you actually can vote.
- Check your email for the confirmation email, and click on the confirmation link
- Go back to http://www.nexttopauthor.com/profile.cfm?aid=2016 and vote for me (you can also vote for other authors by doing a search).
As my thank you gift to everyone who votes for me, you can pick up 4 audiobook excerpts from the book. That’s over 1 hour of fr*ee audio. You’ll see the link to the gift right after you have voted.
I might not know you, but my guess is that you probably have two things in common with everyone else who is reading this blog:
1. You hold personal spirituality to be amongst your top priorities in life AND
2. You love to write and/or read great spiritual books
Well, knowing that about you, I am writing to you to suggest you mark your diary for THIS TUESDAY APRIL 20TH. That’s the BIG day for the launch of Patrick Ryan’s book Awakened Wisdom: A Guide to Reclaiming Your Brilliance.
What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that everyone who buys this important book on the DAY of the launch (this Tuesday, April 20th) can sign up to attend a 2-session “Awakened Wisdom Virtual Experience” with Patrick himself, where he PERSONALLY will guide you through the “8 States of an Awakened Life”, which are the cornerstone of all his world-famous work.
Oooh… I should mention that I will be hosting that event! How lucky am I, huh?
The Awakened Wisdom Virtual Experience will be on May 5-6, via webcast. That means you can attend EITHER via the web or via telephone. There’ll also be some opportunity to ask Patrick your questions about his teachings.
If you can’t make the live event, don’t worry. The audio will be available for download BUT only to those who register for the VIP pass.
In addition to the Virtual Experience, there are over 30 of us who are giving away some FABULOUS free spiritual gifts to you when you buy Patrick’s book. I’m giving away 4 audio meditations from my Garden of the Soul Workshop. I have NEVER offered these before (in fact, I just finished recording them tonight!).
I URGE you to go over to Awakened Wisdom Book Launch Page tonight and sign up for a “launch reminder”. That way, on Tuesday morning, when the gifts are ready, we’ll send you a “go and get them” reminder, so you can buy the book and get all the cool gifts, including the VIP Pass to the Awakened Wisdom Virtual Experience.
Patrick is one of my personal mentors AND he is also my client, as I am the campaign manager for his book launch. Let me tell you, I am DETERMINED to get his book to the number-1 spirituality slot on Amazon on Tuesday. Why? Because I think he totally deserves it! First of all, his work is surely world-class, and I want to see his message spread all over the planet. Secondly, I studied with Patrick for over a year, and now that I’ve also had the great pleasure to work with him at a professional level as well, I can assure you he’s not only an amazingly spiritual teacher, but also a truly down-to-earth human being.
Thanks everyone! Hope to “see” you at the Awakened Wisdom Virtual Experience on May 5 – 6.
P.S.: On a slightly different note, if you haven’t had a chance yet to vote for me in the Next Top Spiritual Author Contest, it would mean SO much to me if you would. The voting for Round 1 goes only for another 2 weeks. Right now I’m in the top 5%, but anything can happen with the public vote. Please remember that you can vote for as many authors as you like in the competition, but you can only vote ONCE for an author per round. It would be great if you checked out my video and cast you vote. There’s also a free gift there for you: 4 audio excerpts from my book, The Garden of the Soul (not the same audio as I am offering with Patrick’s book). Hope you enjoy them! The link to my profile page in the contest is http://www.NextTopAuthor.com/?aid=2016, Thanks so much!
Please check out the video I made as my “pitch” for the “Next Top Spiritual Author” contest. I have entered my book The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self, which as many of you know, is currently self-published.
The grand prize is a book contract from Hampton Roads Publishing, one of the top Body-Mind-Spirit publishers in the world, along with a promotional package worth over $50,000.
There are 3 rounds of voting. The first round starts MONDAY March 29, 2010, and ends April 25, 2010. I could REALLY use your vote to help me advance to Round 2.
Here’s the video podcast I made for my contest entry. I poured my heart and soul into it!
And here’s the same video as it appears on YouTube. I’m putting both versions because sometimes people have trouble viewing certain video formats. If you cannot see EITHER of these videos on your screen (or you wish to see it in a LARGER window), view it on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8P92UVYwCQ.
If you think The Garden of the Soul deserves to go to a wider audience, please help me by:
1) Watching this video to help you decide whether you think I deserve to win the title Next Top Spiritual Author AND THEN
2) Voting for me at http://tinyurl.com/TopAuthorLynn between March 29 – May 3 (the page will not be live before the 29th).
And there is NO pressure to choose only one author to win this contest! There are hundreds of great authors for you to consider, and you can vote for as many authors as you like (but you can only vote ONCE for each author per round).
I you can help me advance to Round 2 of this exciting competition, I will be EXTREMELY grateful!
My motivation is fuelled by your encouragement and comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say about the video, my book and whatever else, in the comments box below.
Thank you everyone!
P.S.: If YOU are a spiritual author, EVEN IF you are just in the very beginning of wanting to START your book project, YOU should enter this wonderful contest. Unpublished and self-published authors are invited AND they give you lots of help to develop your “pitch” if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Check out the Next Top Spiritual Contest and ENTER NOW at http://www.nexttopauthor.com/index.cfm. It’s going to be a fabulous journey, and I hope will take advantage of it.