Monday, June 5, 2017

BOOK DEAL SECRET #1: Take Responsibility for Your Career

Most of us dream about getting a book deal with a major publishing house. I've had two book deals with Simon & Schuster/Atria and MacMillan/St. Martin's Press, and I was really surprised by how different the reality was from my lifelong fantasies. That's why I've shared the whole process, step by step, in BOOK DEAL SECRETS: How To Succeed With New York Publishers, An Insider's Guide For Authors.

Last time I talked about the Four Stages of a Book's Life. I was going to discuss agents today, but that's for next time. Because I almost forgot the most important  BOOK DEAL SECRET of all:

#1 Take Responsibility For Your Career!

Before I got my first book deal, I thought the process of getting published would be streamlined and simple. You hand your manuscript over to somebody else and presto! A few months later, you get a launch party and your book is plastered across shelves all over the world. But it doesn’t happen that way. 

Remember the four stages of a book's life from Selection to Promotion. There are a lot of steps involved in each stage of the process. It takes about eighteen months from signing the contract until your book hits the shelves and there are a lot of other people involved along the way. 

Unfortunately, mistakes can happen!
You might make them. Others might make them. But you can’t afford mistakes, because most new authors don’t sign multi-book deals. This means you’re only going to get one chance to make your first book succeed. 

When it works out, a traditional publisher can do so much for your career. But you have to earn that support first. If your first book doesn’t sell, you can’t expect your publisher – no matter how wonderful and established – to stick with you. This is a sink or swim business. So you have to be strong. You have to be smart.

And you have to know how to swim! 

That’s why it’s so important for every writer to take responsibility for his or her own career. The good old days of lounging around waiting for inspiration to strike, while everyone else does the dirty work, are over – if they ever existed at all!

As authors, we must learn to fend for ourselves. The sooner we embrace that fact, the more easily we can settle into productive routines and not be held hostage by our emotions or unrealistic expectations. 

But this isn’t bad news!

I know from experience you’ll be a more successful writer – and a much happier person – if you take responsibility for your own career.


Thanks for stopping by! Why not order the complete BOOK DEAL SECRETS today? The book is full of information other writers are telling me they can't get anywhere else. It's the book I wish I could've read before I signed my first book deal. btw if you're on the fence about traditional vs. self-publishing, BOOK DEAL SECRETS will help you decide what's best for you! Good luck!

Next time, the free excerpt is BOOK DEAL SECRET #2: Trust Your Agent (Or At Least Pretend to!) ;) It covers everything you need to know about dealing with agents! Because it's a tricky part of the job. Subscribe to the blog to follow along, or check out the e-book now.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The 4 Stages of a Book's Life (Free Excerpt!)

I've had two book deals with some of the biggest publishers on the planet: Simon & Schuster/Atria and MacMillan/St. Martin's press. 'Getting published' was nothing like I dreamed it would be. It's probably not what you're dreaming of either. It'll help so much for you to be prepared. That's why I've written BOOK DEAL SECRETS: How to Succeed With New York Publishers, An Insider's Guide for Authors. It's available on Amazon!

If you're a writer, I'm so excited to get this info to you! It's the book I wish I could've read before I signed my first book deal. It'll also help you decide what's best for you: traditional or independent publishing. Being a hybrid author myself, I can tell you they're two very different experiences. btw if you missed the introduction, here it is!
The Four Stages of a Book's Life

Before I move on to the nitty-gritty of your first book deal, I want to talk about the overall life of any book. Regardless of the type of publisher you work with – Big 5 or boutique – there are four stages every book has to go through. These stages may take longer at some houses, and they often overlap, but they’re all vital to the success of your book.

The four stages are:

1. Selection
2. Revision
3. Publication
4. Promotion

Even self-published authors will have to move through these same four stages. The big difference is that as an indie writer, Selection is not about a publisher choosing your book, but your decision what to write about in the first place.

In both cases, Revision refers to editing, one of the most important aspects of creating a great book; Publication also entails the distribution of physical books or e-books; and Promotion includes Marketing and Publicity.

So whether you published with Doubleday in 1917 or are self-publishing with Amazon/KDP in 2017, your book must pass through these four stages. 

Both of my book deals, several years apart with two separate houses, were surprisingly similar. I don’t believe this is simply because publishers are rooted in the past. I think it has more to do with how long it takes to publish a book properly. It’s a lengthy and complicated task to get right. You’ll have a real advantage if you’re prepared for each step, because none of them are easy, even at a big publisher.

The process is so complex, I’m going to take you through it chronologically. I think it’s the easiest way to prepare you for the incredible adventure you’re about to go on. It will also help you ‘visualize’ exactly what it’s like to get a book deal.

You’ve probably heard of the effectiveness of visualization to achieve your goals. From world-class athletes to bestselling self-help gurus, visualizing what you want is a useful tool to materializing your dreams. Even Einstein called imagination the “preview of life’s coming attractions.” So this book will help you feel more confident and in control of the publishing process – rather than lost and confused, as I was most of the time. 

BOOK DEAL SECRETS is chronological, feel free to skip around the chapters. You may be more interested in editing or cover design than submissions or contracting at any given time.

Eventually, however, I’d recommend reading every chapter. A few minutes reviewing the contract process could save you thousands of dollars and help you nab your next book deal. In fact, it could save your whole career.

In the meantime, however, absorb as much as you can. Learn as much as you can. Read each section as many times as you need to. Once you sign that contract, you’re on a real rollercoaster ride and you don’t have any control over it.

A Wild Ride

Even though this is one author’s perspective, I think you’d have a hard time finding a writer who had a wilder ride than I did in the New York publishing world. A lot of great things happened to me – and a lot of terrible things happened to me. So this book will give you a wide spectrum of possible experiences on your book deal. 

However, I’m not going to mention proper names in the book! I want to protect the privacy of the people I worked with as much as I can. I respect – even care a great deal for – all of them. They’re some of the best agents and editors in the business, responsible for some of the biggest hit books of the last twenty years. I was lucky to be able to work with each of them.

And I bet you can ask any of those people and they’d have to agree: “Oh yes, Sheri McInnis … she really did have a wild ride, didn’t she? No wonder she’s writing a book.”


Thanks for checking in! Why not order the complete BOOK DEAL SECRETS today?
Remember, big editors and agents are signing successful independent writers to seven figure book deals! It will help so much if you're prepared! Good luck!

Next time, 'Take Responsibility for Your Career!' ;) Subscribe to the blog to follow along, or check out the e-book now.

Friday, April 21, 2017


I just launched BOOK DEAL SECRETS: How to Succeed With New York Publishers, An Insider's Guide For Authors. I'm so excited about this release! Having had two book deals, I know it's going to be an invaluable resource for any writer, whether you want to go traditional, self-publish - or can't decide! 

Here' a sneak peek at the Introduction ...

If you're reading this book, you belong to a special club. You want to be a published author.

It's not a small club. According to the New York Times, 81% of Americans want to write a book. Only 1% actually get published, and an even smaller number of writers work with one of the so-called 'Big 5' houses: Simon & Schuster, MacMillan, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Hachette Book Group.

I was one of those lucky few. I've had book deals with two of the biggest publishers on the planet. I've gone on book tours, sold my film rights, and been interviewed on radio, TV and in print. I've also worked with some of the most successful agents and editors in the business, including those responsible for hits like Sex and the City, The Nanny Diaries, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

A lot of people think that's pretty cool. But 'getting published' was all I ever focused on. I never saw beyond that goal. I thought all - or at least most - of my problems would go away when I got a book deal. But there was just as much hard work waiting for me after I signed that contract as there was writing the book in the first place.

Unfortunately, editors, agents and their assistants don't have time to walk you through every step of the complicated process of turning your manuscript into a book. Getting published is a long, complex process full of surprising responsibilities for new authors, and nobody hands you a how-to guide after you sign the deal. Maybe that's why only 50% of us go on to write a second book.

More than likely, however, these unlucky authors didn't have a choice. Because if your first book fails, you'll become 'tainted' - as my last agent called it - and most publishers will be leery to take a chance on you again. This is why it's so important to make your first book succeed.

That's where BOOK DEAL SECRETS comes in. It's the quintessential 'guidebook' to the publishing business, as seen through the eyes of an author who's been through the process twice. It's the book I wish I could've read before I signed my first contract. After you finish it, you'll be prepared for every step of working with a publishing house - big or small - and you'll know how to avoid the mistakes I made.

Almost as important, BOOK DEAL SECRETS will help you decide whether or not you want to work with a publisher in the first place. Because when other authors learn I've been traditionally published, the one thing I hear most often is that they're on the fence.

Should they pursue a traditional book deal, query an agent, try to find a publisher?

Or should they self-publish instead?

I understand their confusion. The ease of self-publishing has changed the literary landscape more than any other invention since the printing press. I'm self-publishing titles myself now, officially becoming a 'hybrid author.' Ironically, however, this new technology has actually made things more confusing for writers, because for the first time in history, we have a legitimate option for releasing our books.

One way or another, if you're serious about getting published, you have to make the most of every opportunity you have. Remember, we only hear about the success stories. How J.K. Rowling was rejected by nine publishing houses before hitting it big. How Stephen King tossed Carrie in the trash before his wife fished it out, helping it become his first bestseller. Or recently, how Paula Hawkins rocked the world when an idea occurred to her while commuting to work. Before long, The Girl on the Train was one of the bestselling novels of recent years - not to mention a hit movie.

These success stories are rare, but they're also true. Every year, somebody, somewhere, writes a book that the world loves so much, it changes the author's life forever. Book tours, talk shows, movie deals, financial success, bestseller lists, the whole fantasy we all dream about.
Chances are, that book will be released by one of the Big 5 publishers, one of their many imprints, or by some other established publishing house. So there's no question that at least one author's dream is going to come true this year.

The only question is ... will that author be you? 

To read more: Get BOOK DEAL SECRETS!

"BOOK DEAL SECRETS is a goldmine of information regarding the joys and pitfalls of traditional publishing. Ms. McInnis gives the reader rare insights into navigating this often challenging industry. A must for those considering looking for, and working with, a publisher."
Theresa Snyder
#1 Amazon Bestselling Author

Order BOOK DEAL SECRETS Free on KindleUnlimited! $2.99 special launch price!

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you! Follow me on Twitter @SLMcInnis, leave a comment, or contact me through sherimcinnisbooks.

Good luck! And Happy Writing!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Top 5 Misconceptions About Literary Agents

I've had two book deals with 'Big 5' publishers and I had a lot of unrealistic expectations about what 'getting published' was like. I'm actually launching BOOK DEAL SECRETS: How To Succeed With New York Publishers, An Insider's Guide For Authors which will take you through the process step by step. I've had so much great response to my blog posts about traditional publishers, I've beefed them up for a book. Not only will BOOK DEAL SECRETS prepare you for dealing with a publishing house, if you're on the fence about whether to go traditional or self-publish instead, it will definitely help you decide what's best for you. (More details below btw!)

As a 'hybrid author' - both indie and traditional - I've noticed a lot of misconceptions out there about getting published. Some of them have to do with literary agents. I had a different agent for each of my book deals so I've had a lot of experience dealing with them. It's a tricky, but vital relationship, so it's good to know what to expect.

MISCONCEPTION #1: Agents will call you just to check up on you.
Or to hold your hand, encourage you or tell you what a great writer you are. I know as authors we all want this and need this - and I always suspected this was how the author/agent relationship worked. But good agents are much too busy to stroke your ego all the time. You'll get some back-patting when an agent takes you on. After all, they're representing you. Obviously, they love you - and your manuscript! But after the honeymoon is over, a good agent is always on the phone making deals. Or vetting contracts. Or fielding queries. They don't have time to be your cheerleader.
In fact, I think one of an agent's prime skills is the 'poker voice.' You can't really tell what they're thinking when they talk to you. It's all about managing expectations. Every good agent - everyone in the business in fact, myself included - has seen a sure-fire hit sink without a trace and a supposed dud race to the top of the charts. It can be a heartbreaking business. A good agent gains nothing by trying to build up your ego. They'd rather have you humble and hardworking than overconfident and arrogant. So don't expect to be coddled! It's a professional relationship first.

MISCONCEPTION #2: You pay your agent.
Nope! It's the other way around! The publisher actually sends all your money to the agency first. Then your agent takes his or her standard 15% and cuts you a check for the remaining amount. I guess it's easier for them to do that than chase you around town for their piece of the pie!

MISCONCEPTION #3: Agents only care about your Work In Progress.
Good agents will actually care just as much - maybe more! - about your next book too. Or 'Next Work' as it's called in your contract. Everyone in the business wants to work with a career writer, publishers and editors included. That means someone who can write about a book a year. So make sure you've got some ideas - even a good start - on your Next Work too.
Don't let a day go by when you're not writing. Okay, you can take a weekend! But the prolific James Patterson never takes a day off and Stephen King only allows himself one day off a week. Much longer than that and he says he loses the flow of the story. So if you want to have a successful, long-term career as a writer, you'll always be thinking of your next book too. Very few first-time authors get  multi-book contracts, so your agent will want to close a deal on your Next Work asap.

MISCONCEPTION #4: Agents can't understand publishing agreements.
I'm reading more and more experts say that you should always hire a lawyer to vet your contract because agents don't understand them. I don't buy it! Yes, publishing agreements are long and complex and they're getting worse every year. But negotiating contracts is an agent's job! Of course a good agent can understand them.

Now literary agents don't specialize in film options, that' true. So a reputable agent won't try to negotiate your film deal or even all of your translation rights. They'll have reliable co-agents to do that.
But when it comes to your main publishing agreement, any good agent will know how to navigate the legalese. And they will also have your back! After all, they'll be earning 15% of every dollar your book makes, so they don't want you getting cheated by the publisher either. (A reputable publisher won't try to cheat you in the first place!) So go over the contract yourself. It's not impossible. Film deals are much worse! If you have questions, discuss them with your agent. If he or she seems inexperienced or doesn't clarify things for you, then feel free to hire a literary lawyer to vet the document.

btw new author contracts are very standard anyway. There's not much you can change about them. Both of mine from two different publishers were almost identical in terms of content. So if you've got a reputable agent and publisher, trust them and sign your contract - or you risk having the offer withdrawn. If you have questions that nobody can answer to your satisfaction, of course hire a lawyer to cover your butt. Either that, or find a new agent and publisher! (There's a lot more to cover about contracts in the book btw!)

MISCONCEPTION #5: Your agent will read your manuscript while you sit there.
I love these scenes in movies or on TV: where an agent (or editor) reads a whole manuscript in his or her office while the author sits there waiting for the feedback. This particular fantasy fueled me much of my life from watching movies like Romancing the Stone where Joan Wilder's agent read her latest novel with Joan waiting patiently for the feedback, staring out the window at Manhattan's skyline.  Most recently, it happened to Noel Solloway in HBO's The Affair. Didn't Misery have a similar scene too? With James Caan as author and Lauren Bacall as agent?
At any rate, reading a manuscript is not like scanning a script or a play. If you've ever printed off an average manuscript (90,000-100,000 words in the traditional publishing world), you know they're around 400 pages long. Unless there's an urgent deadline, most agents (and editors) are too busy on the phone during the day to read a whole book thoroughly - and they certainly don't want to do it while you're around to pester them.

This is how it will work with your agent because this is always how it worked with both of mine. You'll have emailed your manuscript as an attachment. If you're submitting it for the first time after an agent has solicited it, you may have a bit of a wait on your hands. The agent will read it in their preferred format, either digitally or as a hard copy. Every good agent is going to have 'notes' for you. These notes may be official and in writing, particularly if you're not working together yet. But once an agent has signed you on, you'll probably get recommended changes over the phone. 
One way or another, the chances that you're in the office while your agent reads your manuscript are incredibly slim. So instead imagine your agent poring through your manuscript at home or in the office after everyone has gone home. Imagine them jotting wonderful comments in the margins, laughing, crying and reading long into the night because they couldn't put your brilliant book down. Fantasize that they'll call you first thing in the morning to tell you that you nailed it and that you've got a seven-figure "offer" from (insert dream publisher here). Because if you're going to fantasize - and as writers we should! - might as well get the details right.

I'm really excited about BOOK DEAL SECRETS: How To Succeed With New York Publishers, An Insider's Guide For Authors! Subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter @SLMcInnis and I'll keep you posted on it! I'm busy editing, but it'll be out very soon! Thanks for stopping by!