Maribeth Kuzmeski Redzone Marketing Interview (Part 1)

Just got off the phone with Maribeth Kuzmeski of Redzone Marketing this morning.

The reason for the call was for some advice on writing. This is after all what this blog is about, but I felt that I needed to share how I got to meet Maribeth:

I first met her during one of her presentations at the NSA Ohio conference in Columbus Ohio. As an academic and a business professional for over 10 years, I have had to sit through many presentations and speakers. She was one of the best speakers I have heard in a long time. Her clarity of message and use of stories from her consulting practice created a narrative that was easy to follow and memorable. I wish all speakers were like this. I wish I were like this!

It challenges me to re-consider how I teach in my classes and how engaging I can be in my lecture halls. I want to convey content and teach, but I also want to do it in a way that is easily understood and memorable. Maribeth does this exceptionally well.

Maribeth is also the author of 7 books, including the best-selling “The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life” published by Wiley & Sons Publishing.

Here’s a summary of our call this morning:

PK: Maribeth, you stated that when you submitted your book proposal to Wiley that you don’t believe they actually read it?
MK: That’s right, I don’t. Because the manuscript I submitted had almost nothing to do with the original proposal I sent.
PK: Sounds like you have another book on your docket then…
MK: Ha! Yes, I think I might.
PK: To go back to your writing, what advice might you have for an aspiring author?
MK: First off, I have to let you know that I self-published my first three books. And I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I highly encourage the use of self-publishing. You can make more money off your books and you control everything. The main reason that Wiley gave me a contract was because they knew I could sell books. I had already done it! I sold thousands of books on my speaking engagements, consulting jobs, and conferences. So in my proposal to them, I think they only read my marketing piece. In that section, I proved that I already knew how to sell my books and this was going to be no different.

Interview to be continued…

10.5 Steps to Creating Your Book Proposal

Step #1:
Cover Page

A nice optional extra. It can look like a book cover, or just contain the book’s title, your name and contact information, and the bookstore category under which the book will be shelved (e.g. Health/Self-Help)

Step #2:

Write this last. It’s the executive overview. Short, no more than two pages double spaced. Purpose: if the editor reads nothing else, she’ll at least know what you have in mind. Ideally, it will be sufficiently compelling to make the editor read the rest.

Step #3:
The Market

This section shows that you have thought through the question of who will buy the book and why.

Step #4:

How many people would be interested in this book? Give demographics if possible, citing your sources. Show that you’ve done your homework.

Step #5:
Other Books

The competition: how many books are out there on the same subject and how your book will be different.

Step #6
The Book

Take as much space as you need to give the editor a clear picture of what you have in mind. You might write this with an eye to using some or all as the book’s introduction. Set the stage for what you’re going to tell the reader, provide a bit of factual material (with references if appropriate.) Describe any features that will make the book unique.

Step #7
Content Overview

Chapter by chapter, describe the contents of the book, one or two paragraphs per chapter. Give samples; e.g. if you’re going to use personal case histories, make up a couple and put them with the
appropriate chapters. If you’re going to use quizzes, make up a few sample questions. Indicate whether there will be appendices and what they will contain. Mention that the book will be indexed (if it’s a non-fiction book, an index is a must.)

Step #8:
Book Length, Illustrations, and Delivery

For example: “A manuscript of about 95,000 words will be delivered within one year after the signing of a contract. Illustrations will consist of line art. Color will not be required.”

Step #9:
Marketing and Promotion

The publisher wants to know that you will be vigorous in promoting your own book. Here you tell what activities you intend to undertake. Spend time researching and writing this section. It and the one on the market are the most important parts of the proposal, from the publisher’s point of view. Show that you have the savvy, energy, and enthusiasm to make your book a success (even if you don’t always feel that way.)

Step #10:
Author’s Qualifications

Who are you, what have you written, and what motivates you to write this book? This is not the time to be self-effacing. Exaggeration is not useful, but an honest statement of your qualifications is essential.

Step #10.5:
Appendices and Supporting Material

May not be necessary. Depends on the nature of the book.

NOTE: This material is by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson (Writers Unite!)

Starts with an idea

All great books start with an idea.

I have several ideas for books, but the one that I settled on for the past year is one that is near to my heart.

I am a high school dropout. Before fulfilling my dream of being a full-time tenure-track college professor, I jumped around from employer to employer and advanced my career within the IT field. I believe there is a story here to be told. I think most people who have experienced some sort of significant hardship or challenge can use their life story to encourage others through similar trials.

So here are my prospective titles:
1. Stop Making Excuses and Start Living Your Life Today!
2. Top 10 Success Secrets from a High School Dropout
3. Recalibrate: Top 10 Life Lessons from a HS Dropout

I like all of the titles, but #3 seems to fit my goal for this book the best.

My goal is to complete the book proposal by April 3rd, 2013.