My publishing path (and read my proposal)


Thanks to all of you who responded to my post about seeking a publisher or self-publishing Writing Without Bullshit. I’ve made a decision, and many of you were very helpful in that choice.

Justin McCullough asked me what my goal was. That’s the right question. My goal is to reach as many people as possible with the “Without Bullshit” message. That is, to make this thing a movement that snowballs on its own, with the book at the center.

Tim J asked who the customer is. Another important question. The customer is every single businessperson who wants to write better and bolder. It’s marketers, copywriters, and ordinary people working in an office. It’s small business and huge business. It’s everybody.

To reach the largest possible audience, I will seek to work with a publisher. Publishers have distribution, promotional, and editorial resources than can blow things up much bigger than I can on my own. I want that.

Publishers also have drawbacks. So any offer I receive will have to satisfy some conditions:

  1. Keep the title “Writing Without Bullshit.”
  2. Publish by fall 2016, preferably earlier.
  3. Pay enough of an advance to make it worth the relationship.
  4. Allow me to retain control of the “Without Bullshit” brand for the purpose of writing and publishing a series of books.

If the offers can’t do that, I’ll pursue the self-publishing route. I’ve had some pretty detailed discussions with Rohit Bhargava — maybe I’ll get the chance to do this with him.

The next step for me is to get my agent to circulate my proposal, which is nearly done. And that’s where you come in.

If you feel you could review the proposal and you have a unique perspective that will help me, leave your name in the comments or email me at josh at bernoff dotcom. Tell me how your experience will help. I’ll get you the proposal on the day after Labor Day if you promise to get me feedback in 3 days or less. It’s about 40 pages long. This isn’t for gawkers — it’s for those who want to help me maximize the success of the book.

Photo: David Orban via Flickr

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  1. I’d love to help! I led the self-publishing projects for two books published by my former non-profit employer and worked closely with the authors on their writing and speaking tour. Would be honored to lend some perspective to your proposal.

  2. Instead of the inflexible demand about the title, you could state that the working title is “Writing Without Bullshit.” You could claim that you have been searching for a better title, but haven’t been able to come up with one. The publisher might come back and say, don’t worry, we think it’s a great title. On the other hand, they could keep suggesting alternate titles, and you could continually shoot them down. It seems to me you are at cross-purposes with yourself. You want the know-how of a publishing house, but want to force an issue that may be contrary to good practice. After all, people do judge books by the cover.