I understand how hard it is to write and publish a book, because I’ve done it 4+ times. I understand the creator’s journey, because I live it. But I’ve also lived the journey from the other side – from inside traditional book publishers as someone whose jobs included helping to evaluate whether books were acceptable for publication. I’ve seen the mistakes writers make and I’ve made a bunch of them myself.
Like the vast majority of publishing pros, I’ve been a book lover since I could read, a TV lover since I could watch … and have been a writer and storyteller almost as for long as I’ve been both.
A number of years ago, a cocky writerly me abruptly took my savings and quit my book publishing job (running two different marketing departments for a major publisher) to focus on my own writing and storytelling in print and on screens.
And, among other writing, I published four books with traditional publishers (and am working on a novel that involves book publishing) but… yikes.
I found out the writing life is hard — and getting your book to a larger audience isn’t easy.
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.— Henry David Thoreau
I struggled with the many, many challenges of the creative life and learned hard lessons the fall-flat, ass-bruising way. My biggest mistake was not properly building, sufficiently maintaining or adequately exploiting my strong foundations.
What is a creator’s foundation?
Well, from own book publishing experience PLUS my creative career, I can tell you, it is built from the symbiotic, ever-evolving support systems of —
- CREATION – the incredibly challenging mental, emotional and physical work habits of writing, rewriting and creating something where there was nothing.
- CONNECTION – to the world of agents and editors and producers and publishers — including understanding how it works, so you can better advocate for your creative vision all along your path.
- EXPOSURE – the willingness to reach out and dive into unfamiliar territories and technologies to truly, authentically engage readers and draw them to your work.
- SUPPORT – that is, how to realistically support yourself—physically, financially, with your extended community—until such a time when your creative work securely supports you (not to burst any bubbles, but check out how many famous actors appear on TV commercials to help you estimate how long that might be).
Once I realized I needed more work to supplement my creative career, ContentMeant is a part of my own foundation. On a freelance basis, I went back to also deploying my strategic brand and marketing skills for businesses.
But the writer’s journey to author is closest to my heart, and as I advised friends-of-friends on the realities of book publishing and how to work within them for best effect, I realized there were some gaps in the writerly experience (and what many author consultants provide) that my broad, long-time-in-the-publisher-trenches could fill.
On top of the publishing pro insights and practical guidance about real-life book publishing I’m able to scale down corporate strategic, brand and digital marketing tactics to book and author size.
On this site, you’ll find some of my tips and advice, as well as inspiration and links to resources (some paid) to help you build and strengthen your author foundations.
- Helping writers & authors understand how book publishers think, which informs how to improve chances of being traditionally published.
- Helping to scale down, simplify, personalize and use the “big” digital marketing concepts and tools in order to be discovered and reach audiences.
- Non-fiction book proposal development
- Personalized creator bio / platform (website, newsletters, social, etc.) / brand assessment & development
- Personalized book / author / creator content marketing and social media strategy & development
Whatever you get from the site, know I’m wishing you best of luck on your creative journey – here are some kind words from others I’ve helped:
I wanted to say thank you! You were a tremendous help on our phone consultation today. So refreshing!— John M. — financial consultant / business owner / speaker / aspiring author
During his Book Strategy “Quickie,” I helped John “talk through” his book publishing options, including self-publishing or traditional publishing a unique value proposition book concept with a co-author, or singly being an author in a series for someone else.
To Valerie Peterson: You just “got me” from the start, and for that I will be forever appreciative.Keren D. — small business owner / book proposal client / first-time & traditionally published author
This very extensive book proposal was a 3-month project. Working closely with Keren, I drilled into her work and helped make her platform and program stand out among the competition. During the proposal process, The project involved helping her develop unique catchphrases and codify the plan she was using with her clients. The proposal immediately got her an agent and a quick book deal which included a high-five-figure advance and an additional book development fund. For information on how I work on
Thank you for your extraordinary help on my journey to being towards being an author.— Tony — writer / aspiring author / fan
This was part of an email I got from Tony, a fan from when I ran the Book Publishing site for Barry Diller’s/IAC The Balance Careers. Though I declined my last contract, artifacts and adaptations of much of my work (like these) are still very popular on the site. In fact…
The reason I’m writing is I wanted to say that over the past year I’ve probably referenced your publishing site dozens (if not hundreds) of times! I became a bit of an “accidental” author … Since I hadn’t set out to write a book (I’m a therapist in my ‘day’ job) I had very little knowledge of the publishing industry…. You became my online and “go to” resource.
I wanted to let you know from the point of view of a newbie author, you’ve been extremely helpful!
Thank you Valerie!— Amy Morin — author of the international bestseller 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
My The Balance colleague Amy Morin had an excellent platform going for her when her article hit a viral nerve and became a book. But it was gratifying to know that my widsom helped her better understand and navigate the publishing industry that she was suddenly thrust into. Kudos to Amy whose book became an integral part of her continuously growing platform!
Valerie Peterson’s book publishing expertise is deep and her advice is encouraging, thoughtful, and effective. Valerie organized and edited my bio in a way that helped accelerate the growth of my platform. The facts of my skills and experience didn’t change but, as a result of her feedback and suggestions, my bio more immediately communicated my expertise and my value to clients and audiences.
I’d highly recommend Valerie as a publishing and author marketing expert.— Anthony C. — business owner / consultant / self-published author
I helped Anthony reframe his experience and bio to help him surface his background as a performer, his deep expertise and accomplishments in his business and his proven skills as a speaker to get more gigs, including local TV (which also helped his book sales).
Learn more about ContentMeant and me and how I might help you or your writer’s / author’s group.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links relevant to the content. Purchases made through those links may result in good art karma for contributing to the financial health of creators, bookstores, etc., and to ContentMeant through a possible small commission — none of these at any extra cost to the purchaser.