Dr. Maisel’s Secret to Publishing 60+ Books
Claire: You’ve written and edited almost 60 books, including your newest guide to coaching. What is your secret to getting so many books published? On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
Eric: Well, I don’t seem to run out of curiosity or a kind of rebelliousness that demands that I dispute what I don’t see as right out there. There are many fights to fight, and I still want to keep fighting <smile>.
As to how I get them published, well, I do as much promoting as I can, which impresses publishers; I write great, enthusiastic book proposals that sell my ideas well; I have long-term relationships with certain editors (for instance, I’ve done on the order of 15 books with New World Library and I always have a sympathetic ear there, even if they don’t accept every project); I am crafty and relentless <smile>; oh, and I do good work.
As to how long it takes me to write a book, I would say, on average, six months, though if you needed it in two months, I could deliver <smile>.
Making Time to Write
Claire: Are there any tips you can share on either making time to write or how to work on so many projects without burning out?
Eric: My main writing tip is ALWAYS the same: write first thing each morning before your “real day” begins. If that means moving your journaling, exercise practice, meditation practice, etc., to another time of the day, that’s what it means. Let the dog walk itself (a little joke). Let the kids eat cold cereal rather than the pancakes they claim to require. Get to the writing first thing. That is the most important bit of advice I have. If you want to announce that you are a night owl, fine, but if you aren’t writing, skip the night owl thing, get up early, and write.
As to burning out, I enjoy what I do and never burn out from writing. It isn’t work; it’s fun. There are all the tricky bits, of course, like when you make a complete hash of a book (been there, done that) or can’t figure out how to say what you mean (been there, done that). But bottom line, I love writing—no burnout on the horizon.
Book Marketing Strategies
Claire: What marketing strategies are you using to promote your newest book, The Coach’s Way?
Eric: I’ve done a series of 18 or so supportive blog posts for my Good Men Project blog (I blog there regularly every Monday and Thursday), and I will re-use those, tweaked just a tad, for my Psychology Today blog “Rethinking Mental Health” (which is popular and has had 3,000,000+ views). I’ve designated it as the text for a new Creativity Coach Certificate and Diploma Program I’ve created, so all program promoting, advertising, and sales support the book. I announce it regularly to my newsletter list, which is small but choice (in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 7,000 subscribers), I do tons of interviews (most of which I land myself), and I ask my pals to announce the book—many of my pals have much larger lists and reach than I do. That’s a bit of the picture.
Traditional Publishing Tips
Claire: You worked with traditional publishers for most of your 50+ books. What advice can you share about landing a traditional publishing deal? Is the most essential factor a strong book proposal? Big author platform?
Eric: Big author platform by a mile for nonfiction. For fiction, it is a very old-fashioned idea: falling in love. If an agent or an editor falls in love with a novel, they don’t care much about the author’s platform, credentials, or anything. They will champion it. By the way, memoir, although nonfiction, falls into this same “fall in love” category.
For nonfiction, on the other hand, the author’s reach is not only most important, it is all-important. But that’s for the big trade houses. For professional houses and university presses, your credentials and the quality of your book proposal matter.
So, there are three lanes: fiction and memoir, trade nonfiction, and professional nonfiction. There are more differences and wrinkles than these, but those are some headlines.
Adapting a Coaching Workshop into a Book
Claire: You offer several exercises and writing prompts throughout the book. Are any of these exercises adapted from your coaching workshops? If so, how do you adapt a workshop to a book?
Eric: I would say that I do the following: I create a book and a workshop relatively simultaneously. If I’m creating a new workshop, I am already thinking of the book it will become, and if I am working on a new book, I am alert to the workshop or workshops that flow from the book. So, it isn’t so much adapting as creating both simultaneously, which is very efficient and recommended!
Deciding on Tone
Claire: When it comes to coaching and teaching, your tone and diction are essential in how your message comes across to your client. The same is true when writing a book like The Coach’s Way. How did you decide on the tone of the book?
Eric: My tone in that book flows from my genuine feelings of compassion for the reader, who has it hard enough already in life and doesn’t need to hear that coaching is like lifting a ton of bricks—which it isn’t. I want to communicate that there is an ease to coaching—so my tone is aligned with that desire. That’s why I provide a super-easy exercise with each lesson, along with more ambitious ones, and keep inviting the reader to take it easier—no additional pestering or self-pestering needed.
Working with Editors and Agents
Claire: Since you are an editor and a book coach, do you do your own editing, or do you work with a proofreader, editor, literary agent, or book coach? If yes, at what stage of your writing process do you typically start working with them?
Eric: This isn’t very easy to answer. Every book I traditionally publish is looked at by a developmental editor at the publishing house, a copyeditor the house employs, and a proofreader or proofreader at the house. So, I’m not hiring any of those people—they “come with” the publisher.
As to literary agents, I both do and don’t work with them—many books I can sell myself, so I do, and my advances are not so significant as to prove startlingly attractive to agents, so most would pass at representing me even if they liked the project. But I sometimes work with agents on a book-by-book basis (each book is its own story). As to my work as an editor, I both locate contributors to books and I edit their chapters—I am reasonably quick and good at that. But I don’t hire freelance editors or book coaches—I have never gone down that road.
About the Author
Eric Maisel is the author of 50+ books. His recent books include The Coach’s Way, Why Smart Teens Hurt, Redesign Your Mind, and The Power of Daily Practice. A retired family therapist and active creativity coach, Dr. Maisel provides workshops, webinars and keynotes nationally and internationally, trains creativity coaches, and facilitates support groups for writers.