Why I Turned Down a New York Publishing House


Writing a book is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. When I started my business I created a manual. I pulled it a few years ago because it was out of date.

I spoke at the NSA 2011 convention in Anaheim. Great group! Talked to lots of people after the program. When I finally left and returned to my room I had an email from a representative from John Wiley and Sons, New York publishing house. (I don’t know about you but publishers rarely email me!)

Joan (not her real name) told me she was in my audience and loved my program. Further, she wanted talk to me about writing a book for Wiley! Wow! I was stunned and thrilled at the same time. In fact, I felt my head getting bigger as the day went on!!

After the convention I came home and gave Joan a call. She loved my material, my systems, my sales questions, loved it all! However, she felt writing the book strictly for speakers was way too niche. She said my material could easily apply to many other professionals, consultants and small businesses. She wanted me to write the book about them – to broaden the base.

I sent her some of my writing, she confirmed she liked it and sent me a proposal to fill out. All of this took a few months. So, there I sat with my proposal.

I’m not exactly sure what it was that made me keep putting off filling out this proposal! Colleagues said I needed to get right on it, I was nuts to drag my feet. Still, time marched on. I would practically do anything to keep me from thinking about the proposal. A few months ago it hit me. The reason I have been putting it off is because it really is a poor fit for my business model!

I realized that if I “broadened my base” no one would buy it! Speakers want books about the speaking industry from me, not about small business. Small business doesn’t knows me, and I would sell few to them. I have no credibility there.

These publishers expect you to be the #1 salesman for your book. They put a lot of the responsibly in our laps for selling. They may have some marketing suggestions, but mostly, you’re on your own. This was another reason I didn’t want to publish a book with broad appeal.

So, I contacted my business rep, Joan and told her of my feelings. I told her I would be forever flattered that she approached me on the project, but after a lot of thought I was going to self-publish instead of go with her publishing house. Her response? A short email saying “I regret your decision”. That’s it!

So, I am still going to write a book. However, I’m going to self-publish to the book and write it for my target market, speakers!

It was a tough decision, but it was the right decision! Would I love to have a book published by a New York publishing house? Yes! Am I willing to compromise to do so? No. My clients will be better served by my writing a niche book just for them. So that’s what I’m going to do! I’ll let you know when it’s out!

Copyright 2012, Lois Creamer. Lois Creamer works with professional speakers who want to book more business, make more money and avoid costly mistakes! She can be reached in the following ways:

Twitter: @loiscreamer
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/loiscreamer
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/loiscreamer
For more information on Lois’ business check out http://www.bookmorebusiness.com as well as http://www.bookmorebusiness.tv!


46 Responses to “Why I Turned Down a New York Publishing House”

  1. Steve Curtin on June 12th, 2012 3:12 pm

    Lois, over the past several years I too had conversations with acquisitions editors at two major publishing houses. Unlike your experience, neither editor was interested in my proposed book’s content. They were only interested in numbers: speaking engagements, audience sizes, unique visitors at my website, blog subscribers, Twitter followers, etc. I understand why. As you said, authors increasingly assume more responsibility for marketing/selling their books.
    Earlier this year, I chose to publish with AMACOM. The editor I’m working with there only talks about content and, of course, has not asked me to dilute my message in order to appeal to this or that demographic.
    Good luck with your writing!
    Steve Curtin

  2. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:32 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience Steve! I have heard great things about AMACOM. Several of my clients have used them and been very happy. Those of us with highly niched businesses will rarely appeal to NY publishing houses. (I was shocked when approached because I am so niche.) The great thing is that in the last several years self publishing has leveled the playing field for many.

  3. Todd Gray | Bold Interventions on June 12th, 2012 3:25 pm

    Proud of you for sticking with your instincts! The trend is specialization within specific niche’s and trying to be a Jack or Jill of All Trades is Old World Thinking that is “old world” because it doesn’t work! People are best served by advice and coaches who are able to help them with their specific and particular area of need.

  4. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:28 am

    Thanks Todd! Obviously, I agree with you! People are looking for those with expertise. No longer are “generalists” in vogue. My book will be much like my blog, written especially for the speaking industry. That is the industry that I serve, and the industry that I know!

  5. Alfred Poor on June 12th, 2012 3:31 pm

    Lois, I think you made the right choice, even if you were going after a larger market. The legacy publishers are not a good deal for just about all authors (and I’ve been published by some of the biggest). Self-publishing through a good print-on-demand service is clearly the best choice. I’d be happy to share some of my ideas about the best routes to self-publishing if you’d like more information.

    Every speaker needs a book, and every author needs to speak. Nobody will promote us better than we can for ourselves.

    Alfred Poor
    Desktop Wings, Inc.

  6. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:27 am

    Thank you so much for offering your thoughts Alfred. The publishing game has really changed in the last ten years hasn’t it? We have so much more control over how we get to the market as well as what we put in the market. Appreciate your sharing your experience.

  7. Dr. Deana on June 12th, 2012 4:21 pm

    This is what I admire of you Lois, you walk the walk and talk the talk. Thank you for this lesson.

  8. Michelle Mazur on June 12th, 2012 4:25 pm

    Lois – I love stories like this. You really highlight why it is important to stick with your dream, passion and vision for yourself and your business. Well done!

  9. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:25 am

    Thank you for your kind words Michelle. We all, in the end, need to make decisions that serve us the best. I’m comfortable with my decision, but it took me a while to get there!

  10. LaRae Quy on June 12th, 2012 4:37 pm

    Hi Lois

    Your post today really spoke to me . . . I had a literary agent who got a couple of publishing houses interested in publishing a non-fiction book, but I ran into the same problem you did . . . they had ideas on how to market me that I did not feel comfortable with. So, I am going to publish a kindle book later this summer. It’s important to stay true to the direction our hearts tell us to go. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Rusti-Ann on June 12th, 2012 4:54 pm

    Smart decision, Lois. You are laser-focused on your niche/target market and I know your book will be jam-packed with value. Really, really looking forward to the book.

  12. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:36 am

    Thanks so much my friend! I appreciate your confidence and comments! You will know when it’s out!

  13. Steve Weber on June 12th, 2012 6:20 pm

    Balancing the heart and the mind is forever the challenge. The ‘mind’ tells you not to compromise, stay within your niche, do it your way. The heart (ego) tells you go for the ‘brand name’, the NY Publisher … I’ll be famous!

    Good for you Lois to follow your instincts (instead of your ego).

  14. Teresa Allen on June 12th, 2012 7:40 pm

    Kudos to you Lois! The truth is that unless our name is Stephen King or Seth Godin, the chances of making alot of money from a NY publisher are probably not that great.

    I have been so glad that I self published my ‘Common Sense Service’ book years ago as it allows me to bundle 100 copies with my speaking fee. Many times the client can’t figure out what to do with the 100 copies since they have more than 100 and thus wind up buying the extras needed to give everyone in the audience a copy. This ‘give away’ of 100 has set me apart from other speakers under consideration and has helped me book the engagement. I know this has made me more money than what I could have hoped to make on selling books through a publisher. Another benefit is that I have over 10,000 copies out in the hands of business people across the country demonstrating my topic and expertise which have many times found their way to the hands of someone needing a customer service speaker!

    Best of success in your self publishing endeavor.

  15. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:24 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience Teresa. It is true that having a book, or any product, gives you an advantage when negotiating fees. You are doing a great job leveraging the book for interest and profit! Thanks for your encouragement!

  16. Eleanor Sullivan on June 12th, 2012 9:59 pm

    After being published for many years in both fiction and nonfiction, I chose to publisher my latest book, a historical mystery, myself. I’ve been amazed at the sales, esp of e-books. I hired a professional editor, book designer, cover designer, and a proof reader. No one can tell it was an indie. So, good luck to you, Lois!

  17. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:22 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience as well as your encouragement Eleanor! It will be a new journey for me for sure!

  18. Kimberlee on June 12th, 2012 11:40 pm


    Outside of your excellent ability to teach speakers and those who work for speakers the art and science of “booking more business”, integrity is your #1 quality. Thanks for sticking with your “niche” and giving us the opportunity of your wisdom!

  19. Lois on June 13th, 2012 1:21 am

    Wow, you made my day Kimberlee! Thanks so much for your feedback. We all face tough decisions and can only process through them as best as we can. I am comfortable with my decision!

  20. Hugh Culver on June 13th, 2012 3:02 am

    Good on Lois

    This confirms what I was worried about with the big guns. I’ve had big success with my first book (notice how we start to say “first”). And I’m happy to disprove anyone that says these are just fancy business cards – they also make you money.

  21. Lois on June 13th, 2012 7:50 pm

    Thanks my friend! Always great to hear your take on things! I have so much respect for you Hugh. Agree, God forbid that we actually make money on a book project!!

  22. Tom Marcoux on June 13th, 2012 8:27 am

    Congratulations on following your intuition!

    I agree: addressing a niche market that you connect with is important.

    And with print-on-demand, Amazon Kindle, and Nook,
    you can publish a specific book without major fees (except for appropriate editing, of course).

    I have a team of editors and I have enjoyed publishing 12 books (all on Amazon.com, free chapters visible at http://amzn.to/LwNO3B ). It is a *joy* to express your heart and mind and make choices about your own books. When my book “Darkest Secrets of Persuasion and Seduction Masters” went to #1 on Amazon.com, I was inspired to write 6 more books in the “Darkest Secrets . . . How to Protect Yourself Series.”

    I share the above to lend my support to all of us speakers expressing our heart and fulfilling our potential as uplifting communicators.

    many joyful moments,

    Tom Marcoux
    America’s Communication Coach
    and “Strength and Self-Protection” Coach
    Tom’s blog: http://www.BeHeardandBeTrusted.com

  23. Lois on June 13th, 2012 7:48 pm

    Thanks Tom! Sounds like you and self publishing are a great fit. I do agree that the book publishing business has changed drastically even in the last five years. Print on demand and others have leveled the playing field for writers, as has Amazon. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

  24. Diane DiResta on June 13th, 2012 11:14 am


    You made the right decision. You no longer need a traditional publishing house. You’ll get your book out faster and to your specifications by self publishing.

    And since the publishing houses no longer promote their authors (except the celebrities), why not keep the profits for yourself?

    Good thinking.

  25. Andeline Williams-Pretorius on June 13th, 2012 11:17 am

    Hi Lois.

    Follow your intuition. Congratulations on doing that. To self-publish or go with a national publishing house; that is the question.

    I have done both (first self-publish and then getting published by a publishing house) and today also teach people about advantages and disadvantages on both ends.

    Well, I had wonderful means of publicity, relationships established with journalists, etc. over a number of years, great articles done, which meant that my book would receive publicity. This looked very attractive to the publisher.

    Long story short:

    I am going back to self-publishing, because, when you put in all the hours to do the work and when you have established platforms on which to showcase your book, then surely you deserve a bigger percentage?

    Best wishes.

  26. Lois on June 13th, 2012 7:47 pm

    Thoughtful comments! Yes, you do lose a lot of control when you go with a publishing house. It was too much control in my situation, and it sounds like you feel the same. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen on June 13th, 2012 1:22 pm

    As the author of a number of self-published books, I can tell you your decision was right on! Most authors who go with traditional publishers lose control over their own book, and then get paid almost nothing per copy sold.

    You’ve worked HARD to create an amazing platform! Now profit from it!

    Laura Lee Carter, author, psychotherapist, speaker

  28. Lois on June 13th, 2012 7:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience Laura Lee. We are always faced with hard decisions when we run a business. Many times after taking a stand we are filled with doubt about whether or not we made the right decision. I have no such doubt!

  29. Jerry X Shea on June 13th, 2012 8:11 pm

    OK Lois, you write it, put my name on it and I will add it to my two other small business books – Ha, just joking.
    This will indeed make for a great subject/talk on small business.
    I can understand your desire to stay within your comfort zone, however, as a business person I would respond in this way.
    First, how many books, on any subject, have you purchased in which you never knew the author? Back in the 670’s & 80’s I was buying business books by anyone that wrote one. Since being an author/speaker is also a “business” why not expand on your knowledge? If the publisher will put up the money to get the book “out there” why not “expand your book writing?” Now if they want you to put up money for printing, marketing, etc. that is indeed a different story. Not sure here Lois. You “pulled” your manual because it was out of date, but you don’t want to “leap ahead” and expand because you feel “if I ‘broadened my base’ no one would buy it!” My books sell to all kinds of people, both in business and those thinking of going into business. You also have a very big advantage over other authors – you are already a speaker and can go out there and “talk it up.” You just may be selling yourself short here Lois. I would re-think this and then “go for it.”

  30. Lois on June 18th, 2012 9:49 pm

    We agree to disagree Jerry! I’m not selling myself short at all! I operate in the speaking world, consult to speakers only and that’s where I want to stay. The very reason why I do so well is because I don’t stray from this niche. Don’t want to. All of us make hard decisions that affect our businesses. I certainly respect your right to disagree, and thank you for sending such a thoughtful post!

  31. Joel Hochberger on June 13th, 2012 8:55 pm

    Way to go Lois! Kudos for saying, “No thanks!” A couple of years ago I, too, was approached by a NY Publisher about writing a book. And I, too, said, “No thanks. You’re asking me to write about something that’s outside of my expertise.”

    A few days later, I thought to myself, “What if this guy had approached me 35 years ago when I was just starting my career?” Sadly, my answer probably would’ve been, “Sure I can write about that! ‘Fact is, I’ll write about anything you want me to write about! How much will I get paid? And how long will it take before I’m famous?” 🙂

  32. Lois on June 18th, 2012 9:47 pm

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply Joel. I think you are right on! Sometimes we need to be in business for awhile before we can really discern what would be a great opportunity for us. I really don’t want to be famous, don’t need to be famous … outside of my target market! I want to be well known in the speaking business. That involves serving them in the best way I can.

  33. Susan on June 13th, 2012 9:47 pm

    Congratulations! Niching is definitely the way to go!
    Wishing you much success to get “rich in your niche!”

  34. Lois on June 18th, 2012 9:53 pm

    Thanks so much for your thoughts and support Susan!

  35. Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. on June 13th, 2012 10:10 pm


    Congratulations on your decision to self-publish.

    Even though I had been published by two major publishers, when I set out to write a self-help book, I decided to go the self-publishing route. I didn’t want to spend months or years trying to convince a traditional publisher that my idea had merit. I also knew that I would have to do the marketing anyway, so why not keep the bulk of the profits too.

    In the last few years, especially this year, self-publishers have turned the publishing industry on its head. Even well-known authors are discovering that once they’ve built up a platform, complete with the credibility and visibility that it brings, there’s no reason to turn over the control and major profits to a traditional publisher just because that’s the way it has always been done.

    Self-publishing is not solo publishing. We need to gather a team of providers to do the editing, book cover design, layout, etc. to ensure that our final product is on equal footing with those traditionally-published books. But once done, we are the ring leader who gets to decide the fate of our book, and use it to spin into multiple streams of income.

  36. Lois on June 18th, 2012 9:46 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts and comments Flora. Self publishing has leveled the playing field for entrepreneurs to publish and reach their clients.

  37. Bethany Brown on June 14th, 2012 1:34 pm

    Lois –

    This is a great post. Congratulations on making the decision to self-publish! I love the thought-process and strategic approach you took. So many people get excited by getting traditionally published (which can be awesome) but all too often those same authors get stuck in the middle of a publisher’s list without any promotion, marketing, or real sales push. Their “baby” becomes just another book in a bag for a sales rep. And, it’s gone through so many changes that it might not even reflect the cover, title, and even overall content, that you wanted. The fact that you have a great platform, know your content, and can reach your audience is awesome. Congratulations and good luck!

  38. Lois on June 18th, 2012 9:44 pm

    Thanks Bethany! It was a hard decision that became easy as time passed. I would love to have the cache of having a book published by a NY publishing firm, but if it doesn’t sell, what good does it do me? The publisher wouldn’t be happy either. Self publishing has changed the playing field for entrepreneurs!

  39. Gina Carr on June 15th, 2012 3:31 pm

    Kudos, Lois! I commend you for your focus, integrity, and guts. I’m sure it was hard to turn down the opportunity. However, it sounds like you really listened to your heart AND your head.

    I’m a big believer also in focusing on a specific target market. As a buyer, I tend to buy from people who specialize in my industry and functional area.

    That is what I recommend for my clients, as well.

    Good job. Great example. Thanks for sharing it with the world.

  40. Mindy Gibbins-Klein, Founder and CEO of The Book Midwife on June 16th, 2012 7:26 am

    Thanks for a great post, Lois, which I am about to share with my large list of contacts (most of whom are speakers!)

    I am a champion of independent publishing, although I have had quite a few clients go over to ‘the dark side’ because they were willing to compromise on various things to get the big name publishing house on their book cover. Some have done very well, had books in many stores and other good exposure. However, just as many of my clients, if not more, who chose an indie option have also sold many books, had good media coverage AND great profits from their books.

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to publishing. You are right when you say that the author has to own the promotion and marketing campaign, no matter how they choose to publish.

    Now, you can focus on writing the best book in the shortest time. If you need help, hop over to my website. Even if you don’t join any of our programs, I am always happy to help you, since you are such an inspiration to the LinkedIn group. Do contact me about the July program though. I have an idea for you.

    All the best,


  41. Lois on June 18th, 2012 9:52 pm

    Mindy: thanks so much for your thoughtful reply! I love your description of “the dark side”! You are right on when you say there is no absolute right or wrong approach to publishing. There are many types and we need to seek out what is best for us. Thanks again!

  42. Rob Shore on July 24th, 2012 3:07 am

    It’s interesting/spooky to read a post that mirrors my experience almost verbatim. Wiley rep saw one of my sites, called to talk about book possibilities, encouraged me to broaden audience. Though flattered, I too turned him down (now going on 2 years ago) and have spent the time creating content that now is in the hands of an editor for self publishing in Q4 of this year. Good luck with the book Lois, and if need an editor I’ll gladly share the name of mine – as she was referred to me my another expert in our field.

  43. Lois on July 25th, 2012 5:28 pm

    Hi Rob! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Yes, we have much in common! I want to make clear that I’m not putting Wiley down in any way. I think they are a wonderful publishing company. Lord knows, I’ve spent a lot of money on their books and will continue to do so. This was a great experience in many ways. Flattering to be approached to write for a publisher, and a new confidence in myself for making the hard decision! Good luck on your book Rob!

  44. jdgershbein on August 1st, 2012 12:44 pm

    I want a signed copy. Black Sharpie (fine-point) preferred.

  45. Lois on August 14th, 2012 9:25 pm

    You bet JD! Thanks for the encouragement!

  46. Amin Talab on April 1st, 2013 10:10 am

    Hi Lois

    your experience and post now dates back a bit, but you might be interested to hear that I made a similar experience from the other side of the big pond, Austria in the heart of Europe. I published 3 books, one of which in English as well (The Master Negotiator) and had several publishing houses look into it. Many were not interested but I did succeed in receiving an over with LexisNexis, which is a big name in the German speaking market as well. They didn´t expect me to change the contents, but what really put me off was their idea of responsibilities and marketing. Basically the work was all on me and they wanted me to pre-order my own books and leave me with 10% of revenue and keep 90%. At that time it was a financial decision for me to self-publish and the book is in its second edition now and making profits (the other 2 books are on their way but still in the red).
    I am still wondering sometimes if I would have gotten more exposure (which is the main reason and most important issue for publishing in the first place) with a big publishing house. I am not sure but happy to hear that others are going “the same way” too.

    All the best from Europe
    Auf Wiedersehen,


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