Season 1, Episode 1

New Podcast(!) + 3 Things I’m Listening for When You Tell Me Your Book Idea

Notes from this episode:

In this first episode of She Has a Book in Her, I talk about why I’ve created this podcast, what I plan to share with you along the way, and a little about me.

I created this podcast because I wanted to be a resource for the wide range of people with a book idea who aren’t really sure how to get started, or if they’ve started—how to get to the finish line. I chose to make a podcast so you could fit this into your life while you’re multitasking, walking the dog, making dinner, or whatever else is going on in your life— so you can stay focused on your goal to write and publish your book.

I plan to bring on other authors—both published and aspiring, experts in the publishing field— we have a few literary agents slated for future episodes, and also other specialists who will share wisdom and how to’s for aspiring authors around topics like building your author platform, developing content ideas, resiliency and how to stay committed to your book project when we’re living in these unprecedented times.

Be sure to stay tuned all the way to the end and find out the 3 things I’m listening for when you tell me about your book idea!


Vanessa Soto: Welcome to She Has a Book in Her! I thought I could have started with season one by talking a little bit about why I’ve created this podcast, and what I plan to share with you along the way. And also a little bit about me. So I created she has a book in her, because I really wanted to be a resource for all the people out there. And I hope that’s who’s listening to us right now, all of you out there who have a book idea, and you just aren’t sure how to get started. Or maybe you’ve started and you just can’t figure out how to get to the finish line. And I wanted to make a podcast that could help you along this journey, that you could also fit into your life. You know, listen to it while you’re multitasking, walking the dog making dinner doing laundry, or, you know, whenever you listen to podcasts, whatever else is going on in your life, so that you can stay focused on your goal of of publishing your book. And I plan to bring on onto the show other authors. So both published authors and also other aspiring authors like yourselves, experts in the publishing field, I have a few literary agents who are slated for future episodes, and also other kind of publishing adjacent specialists who will share wisdom and how tos for you know, people who are who want to who want to write a book around topics like building your author platform, developing content, ideas, also things like resiliency, and how to stay committed to your book project. Particularly, while we’re living through these unprecedented times as they continue to be, I’m recording this episode in January of 2021. I think we all know where we’ve been and where we are right now. So that’s really, you know, what I hope to do with this with this podcast for you.

And a little bit about me, if we don’t already know each other. I’m Vanessa Soto, I’m a book proposal coach, and I specialize in nonfiction book proposal development for generally women. You know, it doesn’t have to be women, but that who tends to show up at my door, but generally women who have something to say, so they have a point of view they want to express, and I help first time aspiring authors. So authors who haven’t published a book before, get super clear on what their book idea is. And I helped them develop a book proposal that organizes that idea, in a really compelling package that publishing industry folks will be will be drawn to, and I help my authors put their ideas together in such a way that their particular pitch and their proposal will really stand out in in a very, very crowded marketplace.

There’s kind of three areas that I that I support authors in and those are one this kind of publishing expertise, understanding who are the key players? What does a literary agent do versus an editor? And, and what are the expectations from those individuals around the book proposal that you will be presenting to them the query letter that you will draft when you’re pitching them, how to have conversations, about representation, around contracts, things like that. And then the second area that I help my authors with is being an overarching Project Manager for a very complex project, so that you can stay focused on all of the the creative ideation, the writing of the book proposal, the revisions, the into the vision for for your, for your idea, and I keep an eye on the timeline, and I set deadlines and I keep you on track. And I help you manage against your end goal of pitching and then ultimately getting getting a book deal so that you don’t find yourself spinning and going in circles like a lot of people find when they’re working on their own. And then the third area is I say I’m your cheerleader, I’m your coach, I am your shoulder to rest on when the creative process proves challenging or overwhelming I’m always at the other end of an email or a zoom call away. So you know I’m that I’m that support that is often so needed when you’re in that very individual world of writing and an idea generation. And the kinds of people that I tend to work with on book projects are pretty wide ranging. But they all share this deep desire to get their I their point of view, you know, their idea out in the world in the form of a nonfiction book. So I’m here talking to on this podcast, many folks have blogs, there’s all kinds of different ways that people might share their ideas with the world. But the folks that I work with, you know, they feel compelled, and they felt quite passionate about sharing their ideas, specifically, in the form of a nonfiction book, I work with a lot of different kinds of people, coaches of different different varieties, and flavors, educators, creative business owners, I’m working with a food blogger right now on a lifestyle cookbook, so a wide range of expertise areas, but again, you know, that that deep desire to, to write a book, and to get it out into the world, the one other thing that my authors tend to share is they, they tend to have a life experience, you know, lessons they’ve learned along the way that connect to their idea. So not a memoir, per se, but you know, aspects of their own lived experience that, that influence their, their passion for their particular idea. So that tends to be something that I see also kind of across the board with the people who show up at my kind of virtual front door. And they come to me to work with me for kind of almost as wide of an array of reasons, as they are types of people. But again, you know, end of the day, they they want to publish their book, and they’ve decided they need some help to make it happen. So they might, there’s all kinds of different places they might be in that process. So this could maybe help you think about, like, Where are you. So they might have just like a nugget of an idea, and they don’t know where to start. So they’re very early, just starting to work through but feel really compelled and kind of think they need this book proposal thing. Lot of people come when they’re trying to figure out if they should traditionally publish their book or self publish, or they’re exploring hybrid publishing, which is kind of sits between the two. And they’re looking for someone to hash this out with to kind of figure out what they should do. And we’ll do a whole episode, I’m sure on publishing paths. But a lot of people are trying to figure out like, which which route do I want to go, and I help them figure that one out. Many people, they have this general idea that they know, they need a book proposal in order to get a publishing deal. And they just like don’t know where to start.

And others know, they want to publish traditionally, they’ve been working on a book proposal for a while, and they are going in circles. And that book proposal isn’t getting finished, it’s not getting prioritized, it’s not staying at the top of the to do list. And they’ve decided that they’re ready to commit to it and make it happen. So, you know, once they get to that point, they’re, they’re ready for some help. And I am there to help them get to that finish line. I think a lot of people just are looking for someone to help them guide them, you know, so wherever they are in this process, they’re looking for that, that, that expertise, that kind of help with organizing, and that that support and cheerleading, to really wrap their arms around this thing that is so important to them, which is their book idea, which requires this very complex document of a book proposal in order to do so. 

So that kind of leads me to what is the deal with a book proposal. Maybe you know exactly what a book proposal is. Maybe you have less of an understanding. But basically, a book proposal is a business plan for your book. So in the US in the UK in Canada, you need a book proposal to present your idea to literary agents and editors in the US and the UK. You will be pitching your idea to literary agents. In Canada, you’re probably pitching to editors, though there’s a subset of publishers that want you to have an agent. And all of them want you to have this document this bit this book proposal. And this book proposal is really where you are, you’re making a compelling, persuasive argument for why your book, why your book should be out in the world? Why should your book be out in the world right now. And you need to present every piece of information in this very compelling and persuasive way. So that the, the agent or the editor on the other end of your, your email basically goes, Oh, we need that. There’s a gap, this, this author has identified a gap and has a solution for it. So that’s really the job of your of your book proposal. And the elements of it are pretty, pretty templated, you can Google, you know, book proposal and find the different pieces. But what isn’t template ID is how you present that information. So one of the things that I guide authors with is how do you organize those different elements of the book proposal in such a way that will really speak to the publishing industry, folks in their language and what they’re expecting and what they need. So you need to identify the audience for your book, you need to do a thorough analysis of the marketplace, and who is already out there to buy your book. And then you need to tell you need to detail in your book proposal exactly what that audience is. Who are these people? Why? Why do they need your book? Why do they want your book, you also need to design a robust marketing plan for how you’re going to go about reaching those readers through both your own platform and through other outreach strategies. So publishers are not going to put together a marketing plan and a team to go out and execute for you. It is really on you both to identify how you’re going to reach readers. And then and then execute on that as as, as an author with your book out in the world. So that marketing plan piece is very important. It’s not just a list of bullets, it’s not, I’ll email my list, it’s not. You know, I’ll talk at bookstores. It’s very detailed. It’s, you know, where are you going to speak? Where are you going to put your pitch to get written pieces out there? What, what type of other outreach are you going to do to reach more people like the ones that you hopefully already have already in, in your beginnings of your author platform, so that marketing plan piece is, is is quite key, and usually not something that is a specialty area of somebody who wants to write a book.

The other important aspect of a book proposal is that ultimately, it becomes the roadmap for your manuscript for your book, it tells agents and editors precisely what you’re going to say what you’re going to cover, in the book, from soup to nuts, what are you going to cover specifically in chapters, one, two, and three, all the way through the final chapter. And that tells, you know, the, the the agent and the editor, really what the, what the, the arc of this book is, which, which they need to see. And, you know, they may work with you to adjust it. But your point, your book proposal needs to just show the entirety of the book. But that also, plus here is that gives you a roadmap for writing your book. So if you know if I’m working with you, I am going to work with you long and hard on getting as specific as possible in that in that detailed roadmap of what your book will cover, because it will it will serve multiple purposes. It’s going to make your writing process much easier. And it’s going to make your argument much clearer to those that you’re pitching. So it’s a lot developing a book proposal is a huge project. And that’s why that’s why I help people with it because There’s so many aspects that you’re not that folks just don’t have expertise in, I have a background in, in marketing, I’ve managed large scale projects for for many more years than I care to, to describe. But you know, that’s a background that every, every author has developing a marketing plan. So that’s another, you know, just thing to think about as I offer that additional expertise that you might not have. So just to kind of start to close this out a little bit here. And also, because I know that you are here because you have an idea, and it’s calling your name. And we can talk about marketing plans and book proposals forever. But really, what’s at the core of this is your idea, the idea that you feel so excited about, and maybe a little bit scared, because it’s like, so big, but it’s just, you know, won’t go away, and it’s keeping you up at night, and it’s tapping you on the shoulder, and maybe it’s, you’ve been thinking about it off and on for a few years now, and it just won’t go away. Or maybe it’s a brand new idea, but it’s just feels like something you need to pay attention to. And so want to make sure that you have something even to this very first episode that can help you help you get some movement going with, with your book project, wherever you are helped to start bringing this idea, bringing this idea to life a little bit. And I was thinking about, you know how I might do that. And there’s, there’s this one kind of experience that I have, with every, every prospective client that that I meet with. So every time I get on the phone, you know, on a zoom with, you know, a prospective client, maybe somebody who I connected with on Instagram, or somebody who a client referred me to get on the phone. And and I always get started with same question. And I say, so tell me about your book. And then I shut up. And I let them tell me, and I thought I would share with you kind of what is going through my mind what I’m listening for, when that when they’re sharing with me what their book idea is about, because there are a few things that no matter, you know, no matter what your book idea is, that are going to make your idea more successful, you know, than not. And so, you know, when I’m on the call with that, that prospective client, that person that I you know, I’ve probably never met before, they can say whatever they want about their book, they can, you know, they can have a perfectly crafted elevator pitch, or they can kind of ramble on. But what I’m, it doesn’t matter how they how they present their idea. But what I’m listening for are three things. One, is their idea clear? Not is it perfectly phrased, you know, but is there a core idea? And is it coming through? Do they know what it is? Do they know what they want to say? Do they know really what this book is about? Like? Does it make sense to me? So I’m listening for if they’re, they have a clear idea. They’re also listening for, if they know who their book is for? Do they know the audience for their book? Are they kind of readily describing exactly the person who will buy their book and it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a segment that they already communicate with, they already work with, maybe its clients, they have that kind of thing? Or, you know, maybe it’s not just generally do they know who the audience is for their book? And do they know that they need to have an audience? So you know, where are they in terms of knowing who their book is form, the second thing I’m listening for. And the third thing I’m looking for, and this is super important, and it really underlies, you know, the other things I’m listening for, and that is really, where do they just light up when they’re telling me about this book? Do they know? Like, why they must write this book? Do they know like, what kind of impact they want this book to make on the world and why they are the one who must write this book. So I’m really listening for that passion, that spark, that why behind this particular idea, and that’s so important because you know, all these things we’ve been talking about a book proposal In pitching and then being out in the world with your book, writing an entire book, probably for a year of your life. All of these things are going to be only successful if you really care about what you’re writing about. And if it’s really a driver in you, if you’re passionate about it, it will, it will show if you’re not. And, you know, I’ll share a little story.

A couple months ago, I was running a workshop, and one of the participants emailed me afterwards. And she said something along the lines of that, because we went through similar exercises this, so she said, you know, that exercise got me thinking, and it made her realize something like, it made me realize that the boring business book I thought I should write wasn’t the book that I should write. There’s a different book, a different books that she was meant to write. So you know, if this exercise helped her realize what not to write, I feel like that is like, the ultimate goal is to is to then tap into what instead do I really want to write what am I called to write and getting clear on that. So these are all just Uber important, but not one, particularly so. So I would love for you to tell me about your book. I’ve created a free worksheet to help you dig into these questions and you can grab it at she has a book and and then email me and tell me about your book. I want to hear all about it. I’m super excited. And and that that wraps us up for episode one. I’m going to leave it at that. Thank you so much for bringing me along on your book project journey.

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