Numerous fitness pros have contacted me in the last month alone about how to get a health/fitness book published.
If you're wondering the same thing, check out the excerpt below (modified for this blog) from an article I wrote for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
There's a joke among book authors: At least one person at any party will tell you they, too, want to be a published author ... if only they had the time to do it.
Writers laugh at this notion because creating a book and successfully bringing it to market requires far more than finding time to sit in front of a computer.
For one thing, publishers will want to know if you have a platform. Read on to find out why platform is such a buzzword in today's publishing industry.
Platform: What It Is, and Why You Need It
According to experts, health and fitness book authors need platform. Platform means you are already recognizable and people are familiar with what you do.
You don’t have to be famous. But you do need your own circle of influence and a proven track record for being able to promote yourself.
For example: Can you boast a strong client following? Have you created a fitness program or brand that’s receiving rave reviews? Do you get large-scale publicity? Have your articles been published, or do you appear regularly on TV? Are you a presenter? A notable fitness expert? All these attributions amount to platform.
“A common misconception is that anyone can get a book published if they have a great idea,” says Laura Nolan, an agent at The Creative Culture, a literary agency in New York City that represents a number of top fitness experts. In reality, she says, “publishers are looking for fitness experts who have established platforms, have been in the media, or have an established following.”
Plus, publishers are busy pursuing book ideas on their own, says Mike Bates, M.B.A, owner of Refine Fitness Studio in Windsor, Ontario, and the former managing director at Human Kinetics Canada, a publishing company that specializes in titles related to physical activity.
If your idea is viable as a non-fiction book, a publisher has probably already thought of it. “This is not to say that unique ideas never come from outside of the publisher, but they are more rare than you might think,” Bates says.
Therefore, prospective authors with a good idea and a built-in audience have the most leverage. (Incidentally, you could also coauthor a book or have someone ghostwrite it for you if you have the necessary platform but not the time, interest or skill to write a book.)
What if you’re not interested in traditional publishing companies or bookstores. Let’s say you plan to self-publish a hardcopy book or ebook then sell it yourself. Is platform still an issue?
Think of it this way: You must be established as an expert in a particular niche to sell books. Your platform might stem from a large and dedicated client base or people who avidly read your blog (yes, blogs do contribute to platform!).
Beyond that, being self-published may eventually boost your platform enough to impress traditional publishers. “Self-published fitness authors will attract the attention of a publisher if they sell enough copies of their [self-published] book,” says Nolan.
Weighing Your Options for Publishing a Fitness Book
Once you’ve got the platform to succeed at writing and marketing a non-fiction health/fitness book, it’s time to weigh your options for how you’ll get your message to the public. Here are three common avenues:
1) pursue a deal with a traditional publishing house,
2) become an independent or self-published author, or
3) create an ebook.
For the full article, please refer to "So, You Want to Be a Book Author: Book Publishing Options for Fitness Pros" by Amanda Vogel, August/September 2008 issue of ACE Certified News, pages 9-11.
Resources for building your platform as a health and fitness expert.