I am a planner … that is what I do. I went to school and landed my dream job as a fashion designer. I was set–I had it planned out. I knew my path. Writing was NEVER a part of my plan. I never had any intention of writing anything. It found me.
In fact my first foray into the publishing world was an accident of sorts … a 7 a.m. phone call from an acquaintance jolted me out of bed with the simple question “Can you write?” To which I carefully replied … “I got an A in English.” Little did I know this phone call would send me down a path I never expected.
In an instant, I became an accidental author. My very first book deal was as co-author of a book titled “The 100 Careers in Fashion and Modeling,” and I solely got that gig because I was in fashion, was knowledgeable about the business … and could write. It did not happen because I was brilliant. It did not happen because I got that A in English. It happened because I parlayed my expertise in my career into a tangible idea.
Soon after this writing experience, I married and used my status as a recent bride to explore a new area of expertise. This led to a second book, one about wedding planning from a bride’s perspective. Taking this all one step further, I veered off my plan again and switched careers. I was now a wedding planner. I embraced all things wedding and set out to parlay my experiences and knowledge of weddings into writing. I had already seen what happened when I presented my self as an expert in one field … this same idea could easily be parlayed into another field and into subsequent books.
So, how did I do this twice? First I established myself as an expert in my field … and yes, that meant volunteering for some things. I spoke at bridal seminars, I edited small bridal publications, I wrote small articles (for free), and I made myself available to professional organizations to speak and to be a part of their professional meetings. All of this helped spread my name and establish me as a go-to wedding gal. Not only did this help my “new” career as a wedding planner, but also it strengthened my role as a writer, and subsequently author of multiple wedding books.
Do I mean go out and volunteer and give your precious time away for free, not for the long haul … but you have to plan and work to establish yourself as an expert in any field and to gain the credentials you need to make the publishers believe you are the one who knows the most about your chosen subject. Find professional organizations that cater to the client, the reader you want to reach and offer your knowledge.
Of course you may not be the only looking for this route to authorship, so you also need to know who else is out there writing books in your market – what are their credentials? Are they better than yours? Do you need to improve yours? Continuing to educate yourself in your field, as well as making yourself available and accessible to those who can benefit from your particular field of expertise will establish you as an expert and just may lead to the many opportunities that are out there waiting for you.
Holly Lefevre is the author of The Everything Wedding Etiquette Book, 3rd ed., The Everything Wedding Checklist, 3rd ed., and The Everything Bridesmaid, 2nd ed. (upcoming in March 2011). You can read more from and about her at http://www.hipweddings.blogspot.com