5 Reasons to See Yourself and Your Book Through Acquisitions Editors’ Eyes

lens R.E Barber Photography photopinIf you are like most aspiring authors, you see you work from a biased perspective. Maybe you hired an editor for a more objective viewpoint on your manuscript. However, the most important perspective from which to see a book idea—and even yourself—is through the eyes of an acquisitions editor.

If you seek a traditional publisher for your book, an acquisitions editor will be one of the people who determine if your book idea deserves to be published. These editors acquires manuscripts for publishing houses, usually from literary agents. A publishing board or editorial board, made up of a variety of people within the publishing house makes the final decision to purchase a work. All of these people are concerned primarily with one thing: The ability of the proposed book to sell if published.

If you want to self-published, you alone decide whether or not to publish your own work. Yet, the fact that indie authors don’t need approval from agents or acquisitions editors doesn’t make the job these publishing professionals perform any less valuable. In fact, the ability to evaluate a book idea for marketability remains an essential step for both traditionally published and indie published authors. No matter how you plan to publish, it behooves you to see your work, and even yourself, through the lens used by acquisitions editors.

If you see your book, and yourself, through the same lens used by acquisitions editors, you will know if you can:

  1. Produce a book that is unique in its category. Acquisitions editors study the business plan for your book (the proposal) to determine if the idea is different from other previously published books in the same category, genre or subject area. This competitive analysis helps them determine if the book you want to write is different enough to stand out for the other books on the shelf.
  2. Create a book that is necessary in its category and target market. The same competitive analysis, along with a market analysis, helps an acquisitions editor determine if your book idea is one that will “fill a hole” on the bookstore shelf. They evaluate if it is a title that addresses a need in that category. Additionally, they decide if it addresses a need in the marketplace, or if your target reader actually wants a book yours.
  3. Write a book that will sell an above average number of copies. Acquisitions editors study the market analysis to determine if the target market you have identified shows the potential for large numbers of books sales. That means it has to be large enough or a profitable enough niche market to earn back the advance on sales (paid to you). The publisher wants to make back the money invested in the project.
  4. Help your book succeed. Acquisitions editors also evaluate you, the author, by looking at the bio and platform description you provide. They want to know if you are a good business partner. After all, when you seek a traditional publisher you are asking the publisher to financially back your project, to become your venture-capital partner. In return, the publisher wants to a business partner who can not only bring the completed project to the table but also help sell it once it goes to market. Therefore, the acquisitions editor looks at the promotion plan that you include as part of your business plan as well. This show whether you have plans to help sell the book. Your platform description tells them if you have done anything to date to create an audience for your book, which makes the promotion plan work; it also is a good indication of whether you will follow through on promoting the book later.
  5. Produce a marketable book: Ultimately, acquisitions editors look at your book idea not only from a creative perspective but, more importantly, from a business perspective. The publishing industry, after all, is the business of producing, distributing and selling books. Traditional publishers bring more new products—1,500 books per day—to market than any other industry. They look at all the information about a proposed book to determine if it is a viable product—one that will sell.
How to See Through the Lens of a Publishing Pro

To see your book, and yourself, through a publishing pro’s lens and to evaluate your idea for viability, meaning marketability, you need the same information an acquisitions editor requires from aspiring authors. That information is included in a book’s business plan. Such a plans is typically called a book proposal.

A nonfiction proposal provides the most detail; therefore, it is the best choice for either a nonfiction or fiction business plan. Don’t think of this as a proposal unless you plan to traditionally publish; think of it as a business plan. Ultimately, that’s how agents, editors and publishers use a proposal. If you are an indie publisher, that’s how you, the publisher, use it as well.

When you can see your book and yourself through the same lens as an acquisitions editor, you can perform the same type of evaluation of your idea and of yourself. If you then hone your book idea based on that evaluation, you can write and produce a book with a higher likelihood of succeeding. If you evaluate yourself through this lens as well, you can determine if and when you are ready to help your book succeed.

photo credit: R.E. Barber Photography via photopin cc

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