Do you want to find a publisher or literary agent to get a book deal?

Every year, when I pitch literary agents and publishers with my clients’ book projects to get book deals at the annual “feeding frenzy” for the publishing industry in the U.S. (, agents and publishers ask me the same 2 questions (once they’ve quickly assessed whether 1. the topic is current, 2. they think there will be a sizable market for the book, and 3. they believe readers will buy, buy, buy your book).

The 2 biggest questions publishers ask once they’ve made this lightning-fast discernment are:

1) How is your book different from every other book on your topic?
2) What’s the size of your platform?

The market is flooded with books. For your book to stand out and get a book deal, you’ve got to contribute something new, or provide some unique twist on your topic.

When an agent or publishers asks: What’s the author’s platform? Here’s how the math breaks down: Platform = Publicity. Publicity = Eyeballs. And Eyeballs = Sales.

One top literary agent who’s sold many of my clients’ books told me: “Randy, it’s all come down to publishers sitting with their calculators, comparing people’s numbers.”

What numbers are they looking for?

In this economy, the marketing departments are counting every bean to see if the numbers justify the purchase of your title. This means that in the “About the Market” section of your book proposal (a mandatory document to accompany your manuscript,, you must identify the market to support the sale of your book. You could write the best book in the world, but if the numbers don’t add up in a way that satisfies their marketing department, your book is toast.

Years ago, I wrote, Crappy to Happy, I had a great agent. The editor at Ballantine loved the book. But the book was rejected because my platform back then was too small. When I started doing a one-woman comedy show and gained visibility, I was immediately offered a contract by Red Wheel Weiser,

Many people think they will start speaking or building their publicity platform once their book comes out. Don’t wait! Publishers consider this strategy to be meaningless. They want to see your real numbers now. If you don’t have real numbers yet, there are many people who can help you build your publicity, like Jill Lublin,, who helps people create their national publicity strategy.

Here are other questions publishers ask: after reviewing a book proposal I had polished for David Couper for Outsiders on the Inside,  an Acquisitions Editor at Wiley asked: “Where has the author spoken in the last year? What was the size of each audience? Where is the author speaking in the next 6 months? What is the projected size of each audience?”

Good golly, Miss Molly – they’re after real numbers! Although David was speaking and had the numbers to prove it, he ultimately went with a different publisher,

Prove your publicity platform, write a great book with differentiation, and speak to a topic that is current with a sizable market, and you’ve got a potential winner on your hands.

Randy Peyser has a high success rate of helping people find a literary agent or publisher to get a book deal. Contact her at

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Randy Peyser is highly successful at helping people find literary agents and publishers for their books. She also writes book proposals.

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