3 Ways to an Acquisitions Editor’s Heart

What I've Learned from Up-and-Coming Authors

I recently had conversations with two first-time authors, and I feel very hopeful about both of them. Whether the publisher I work for pursues them or some other publisher, I’m quite certain these authors will be offered contracts. And as long as the publisher doesn’t overpay, chances are good these books will be successful for everyone involved.

The authors with whom I normally interact have multiple published books already in the marketplace. Not so with these two authors. Knowing many readers of this blog are in the same position, I thought I would pause long enough to share the three reasons I’m so hopeful about these writers and their book projects.

Steadily Growing Audiences

Over the years both of these authors have worked hard to develop an audience. One of them has done so in the context of a full-time job, which is to say the job itself helped her develop an audience. The other did so “on the side,” as it were, but this “on the side” platform has grown steadily over the years.

What can you learn from them? The amount of time it takes to build an audience is counted in years. It is the result of steady, consistent interaction with your tribe. Listen to what they need, do your best to help, do that over and over again, and get better at it as you do so.


It takes time, but you can work smarter not harder by following and applying the advice of people who’ve “been there, done that” already. People like Michael Hyatt, Bryan Harris, Ray Edwards, and Jeff Goins come to mind.

Incidentally, Jeff Goins just opened registration (I’m writing this October 24, 2016) for his Tribe Writers course. If you’re trying to build an audience, it’s a great option. To find out more, click here.

Meeting Real Needs

Both of the authors I spoke with shared concepts that meet real needs that real people really have. So often publishers receive proposals for concepts that address imagined needs or needs the author thinks the world should have.

This is important. You may have something to say, and that’s awesome. The key is figuring out how to shape what you have to say so that it engages people where they really are. I love the quote from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the word’s deep hunger meet.”

Sometimes we’re so enamored with finding our voice that we forget to find the world’s hunger. How do you that? Here are some ideas:

  • Ask questions.
  • Take time to see which of your blog posts are resonating.
  • Set up a Facebook group specifically for the purpose of understanding what your audience is looking for.
  • Keep your ear to the ground and notice when multiple people express the same anxiety or ask for the same thing.

The Passion Factor

I sensed from both authors a real passion for the projects they were pitching to me. Their passion was not so much for getting published. It was for the message they want to get into the world and for the people they want to serve.

Writers can be like martial artists. The inexperienced martial artist stares at a block of wood and tries to chop it, only to end up bumping the wood and bruising their hand! The veteran martial artist knows that to break the wood, one has to aim beyond it. They know breaking the wood is just a means to an end—not an end in itself.

Getting published is like the block of wood. It’s a means to an end. Getting published is gratifying. It’s awesome to hold your own book in your hands. But this satisfaction is fleeting compared to that of conveying a message that’s burning within you and seeing it reach the people you want to serve.

On November 17, 2016, my friend Ray Edwards and I are hosting a webinar titled “How an Acquisitions Editor Reviews a Book Proposal.” In this engaging webinar you’ll learn how acquisitions editors review book proposals so that you’ll know the ins and outs of how to get published. You’ll discover the number one reason publishers turn books down, the first thing editors look at in your book proposal, the elements of a great book project, and a proven method to secure a literary agent. We hope you’ll join us. To learn more and save your spot, click here.

Question: What’s one practice you’ll take from this article and implement into your writing work? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Benjamin Moore

    I really liked this statement, “You may have something to say, and that’s awesome. The key is figuring out how to shape what you have to say so that it engages people where they really are.” Thanks Chad
    Also, I already have a FB page, but what the best way to start a group to talk about needs?

    • Chad R. Allen

      One way i’ve seen this done and starting a focus group on whatever topic you want to engage people about. So for example Michael Hyatt started a Productivity Focus Group because he wanted to engage people on the topic productivity. Stu McLaren, if memory serves, started a Membership Site Discussion Group because he wanted to engage with folks about membership sites. Does that make sense?

      • Benjamin Moore

        Okay, I have a Facebook page for my site https://www.facebook.com/benmooreblog/. Is there any good resources that you know of on starting a focus group? Thanks for the info Chad

        • Chad R. Allen

          I’m not aware of any, sadly. Sorry about that.

  • You have convinced me about starting a Facebook page. It seems a bit strange as my blog is on blogspot. I have always been putting he idea off. Do you have a Facebook page? I’d like to see it.

    • Chad R. Allen

      Paul, I sure do! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/chadrallen

      • Thanks! What kind of group page is it? is it a custom page? Is it a a club page or an event page?

        • Chad R. Allen

          Nope, free. It’s what Facebook calls a “website” page, I believe.

  • Where my deep gladness abd world’s deep hunger meet! I have been overwhelmed by the power and the burden of each. Your reminder to “see beyond” that point of intersection frees up the flow to embrace both. Thank you Chad! I needed this word today.

    • Chad R. Allen

      Terrific! Thanks writing in, Kathy! Great to see you here.

  • I need to be more intentional about asking questions on my tribe page. It would help me to clarify what people are looking for!

    • Chad R. Allen

      Sally, great idea! I always find it both fun and illuminating to hear what’s on readers’ minds.

  • Jathan Maricelli

    Love “The Passion Factor”. I recently read an article about “grit” being a determining factor of student success. One way grit is defined is “maintaining passion over an extended period of time.”

    Unless one is TRULY burns with passion for their content area, they will not be able to sustain this long-term interest.

    • Chad R. Allen

      You got that right, Jathan! Well said. I love that definition of grit.