A local independent filmmaker here in New England launched a blog to describe his experience of writing, shooting, and selling his first independent feature. He made an allegory on the "seeking advice from people who've done this successfully" that's stuck with me since I read it ten years ago.
Let's say that in any given period of time, a thousand skydivers jump out of a plane only to have both their main and their backup parachutes fail. Of those, let's say a dozen people survive. You're a skydiver and you'd like to learn how to survive a 12,000 foot free-fall. So you track down those dozen people and ask them how they did it...right?
Nope. All they can tell you is what happened to <em>them.</em> When they tell you their story, you'll find that their steps are impossible to replicate and even if you did, they might not even remotely apply to your situation.
It's sort of a universal truth. I'm sometimes asked (usually during a Q&A after one of my talks) about how I've built an audience and how I manage to be an active journalist in so many mediums. I tell the skydiving story. ("Well, first I had to tell myself to stop pulling on the reserve chute handle; then, I stared to scream a lot, then cry a lot, then when I realized that I'd already wet myself, I decided to go ahead and soil my underwear...hey, you're not writing any of this down...")
So I'm relieved that my friend and literary agent Carole Jelen has co-authored a book on this subject. Carole is a top representative and she specializes in a sub-category of writers: people who want to share their particular and peculiar knowledge. She's seen me through about a dozen books, now, and her expertise in getting ideas to market has always blown me away. I mention that I think (X) would be a good idea for a book, she helps me to spot the problematic areas and leads me to put together a focused proposal, she handles the contracts, she deals with things when everything goes very right and she deals with it when some things go very wrong.
She's represented all kinds of authors who write about all kinds of topics, and she's been an agent and an editor for decades. Carole is, truly, Finest Kind, and that comes through in this book.
Will it guarantee you a successful book and Harry Potter-scale sales numbers? Naw. Remember: skydiving advice. But I've never seen a book that does such a complete job of capturing all of the variables in that alchemy. No one element will do it for you. If you want to create an ecosystem from which you can share your knowledge and somehow get paid to do so, you'll need to write, speak, share, connect, and energize...and this book explains multiple ways of doing each of those things. It accomplishes this through specific examples and plenty of successful case studies with authors. And yes, many of whom certainly owe much of their success to Carole's savvy).
You certainly won't have enough energy to do <em>everything</em> you read about in this book. You'll have a great guide to all of the opportunities available to you and you'll be able to build a solid game plan.
Maybe what I like most about this book is its sedate and sober tone. I just checked the cover to make sure: there isn't a single exclamation point to be found. This isn't your Keys To Making It Big or a get-rich guide. This is a reasoned and informed explanation of the things that a Sharer Of Expertise ought to be doing if they truly want to make a go of it, instead of just starting a Tumblr or self-publishing a Kindle title and then wondering why nobody's reading your stuff and your Inbox remains silent.
I'm just glad that I have something more helpful to share than just the skydiving story. Carole told me about the book a few months ago and I was excited to read it when my comp copy arrived at the house. If I didn't think it was a terrific book, I'd just Tweet about how this friend whom I respect and admire and have worked with for two decades has a new book out, and I'd leave it at that. Here I've written about 700 words.
Take that as my endorsement. You're probably not lucky enough to have Carole Jelen as your book agent, but now you're lucky enough to have so much of her expertise available to you for just a $17 cover price.