From the Publisher’s Desk – The 3 “Cs” of Successful Authorship

March 5, 2012

Chance_RedDiceI recently had lunch with Michael Mann, publisher at Watkins Publishing. Many years ago, Michael took a chance and offered me my first publishing job as a desk editor for the company he founded, Element Books. We’re still friends and colleagues today.

Most writers would relish the opportunity of a publisher “taking a chance” to publish their book and support them to succeed as an author.

Despite the tough marketplace we’re all facing right now, such scenarios are playing out in publisher’s offices around the world as books are commissioned to fill the all important publishing schedule.

So if you’d like to succeed as a traditionally published author, how do you maximize the likelihood of this becoming your reality?

I asked Michael what he is looking for from authors today and what strategies really work when it comes to selling books. His response can be summarized under 3 headings: content, charisma and connection.


It won’t come as any surprise to learn that inspiring and original ideas come first on the priority list. The way those ideas are presented is obviously key and it is interesting to learn that narrative non-fiction is of real interest right now.

This is an approach that increasing numbers of writers are drawn to and refers to presenting insights and teachings in the form of a story.

In order for narrative non-fiction to work, it needs to be very well written, tell a real story and hold the reader’s attention from page one to the end.

The Seer_WatkinsExamples might include a spiritual journey, an adventure to discover ancient mysteries, the experience of bringing up an autistic child, a healing journey, and so on. One forthcoming Watkins title is The Seer by Lars Muhl which combines a strong story with powerful writing.


Charisma is one of the main author qualities that attracts positive attention from publishers. In fact, being a charismatic speaker was identified as being one of the biggest assets an author can have.

Some writers are naturally charismatic whilst many others need to develop this quality. Conscious and creative writers do well to remember that authenticity is a powerful foundation on which to build the skills you need to connect with your audience in a charismatic and memorable way.

Drive, time and resources invested over the long term are also required by those truly aiming to succeed as published authors. As far as Michael is concerned, if you want to make it as an author today, “staying at home isn’t really an option!”


The third area of focus relates to building a solid platform that provides you with a multitude of opportunities to connect with your readership.

  • TV and Radio: Publishers understandably love to work with authors who are regularly on television and radio but do understand that these scenarios are unlikely to apply to the majority of people writing books today.
  • Events: Next on the priority list comes authors who apply their charismatic speaking skills to presenting at events, preferably lots of them with large audiences. According to Michael, “that really does sell books”.
  • Publicity: Alongside that, many authors who are serious about success now invest in hiring their own publicists. This is especially the case in the US but increasingly in the UK and elsewhere. Often the publishers own PR is limited so supplementing this even for a specific period of time such as the launch of your book can make a real difference.
  • Mailing Lists and Social Media Connections: Authors who have huge mailing lists and who are regularly in touch with their audience – by email and print mailing – combined with active social media connections are also warmly welcomed by publishers.

Michael’s final tip for writers who are serious about succeeding as a traditionally published author is to remember that publishers are always working on lots of books simultaneously. He explains, “people still working in publishing now do the work that at least three people used to do ten years ago.”

Solid working relationships between authors and publishers need to be based on mutual respect and understanding. With all of this in place, everyone has every chance of success.

One final tip from me is to apply all of this information at a level that works for you as an individual. There are no absolute requirements, so take the principles underlying these 3 “Cs” and adapt them to suit your vision of what success as a published author means to you.

What are your thoughts about succeeding as an author in the contemporary marketplace? Share your views and experience below.


© Julia McCutchen 2012. All Rights Reserved.

If you want to use this article in your ezine or on your website I’d be happy for you to do so as long as you use the complete article, including the copyright line, and include the following paragraph in its entirety:

Julia McCutchen is a writer, conscious creativity coach, intuitive mentor, and the founder & creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW). A former publisher of books on spiritual and personal development, Julia teaches conscious creativity, conscious writing and a holistic approach to writing for publication that combines the inner journey of creative self-discovery with the practical steps required for writing and publishing books. She is the author of The Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Publication. For more information and a FREE Special Report on Discovering Your Authentic Voice – on the page and in the world, visit

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