Wiley authors Valerie Khoo, Trevor Young and Heather Smith came together for a panel discussion titled Publishing with Impact presented at the National Speakers Association Australia 2014 annual conference at the crown Promenade in Melbourne.

Here is my version of the highlights from this session.

Publishing with Impact Valerie Khoo Heather Smith Trevor Young NSAA

Publishing with Impact Valerie Khoo Heather Smith Trevor Young NSAA

Initially speakers were asked to share a brief bio with the audience:

Khoo founded the Australian Writers Centre a community teaching online and onsite writing courses. She is also the co-founder of SocialCallOut.com, a journalist and editor. Her articles frequently appear in the Sydney Morning Herald and other publications.

Young runs a business called Expermedia and blogs under the name PR Warrior stories from the frontline of the communications revolution . He is a social media and content marketing speaker, strategist & advisor.

Smith is a Chartered Certified accountant, who supports and trains businesses through the implementation of cloud based accounting and business management solutions.

What books have you had published through Wiley Business?

Young: microDOMINATION – how to leverage social media and content marketing to build a mini-business empire around your brand http://www.microdomination.com/

Valerie Khoo: Power Stories -The 8 stories you must tell to build an epic business http://powerstoriesbook.com/

Heather Smith: Xero for Dummies – the essential guide to Xero https://heathersmithsmallbusiness.com/xero/

Can you share some insights into the journey you took to have your book published?

Khoo was thinking of writing a book, and contacted Wiley business via twitter, and by midday the same day, she was having a conversation with Wiley. She had worked within the journalism / writing field for a long time but surprisingly had no contacts in the publishing industry.

Young was at a networking function and a friend introduced him to someone who worked at Wiley, and that conversation started the process.

Smith was writing her second book with Wiley at the time, Learn Small Business Start-Up in 7 Days when she was approached over twitter by the CEO of Xero an online accounting product who suggested she write about Xero. She took this suggestion to her publishers, and they thought about it and said they would like her to pull a proposal together, and to have the subject in the “For Dummies” series. The For Dummies series had a different submission process, to the books Smith had published previously.

[Tweet “Book publishing insights from @WileyBusiness authors @ValerieKhoo & @TrevorYoung “]

How long did the publishing process take?

Everyone described their own personal publishing journey with Wiley, which essentially boiled down to submitting the book proposal, approval of the book proposal, writing, editing, final submission and publication of the book. Working with Wiley meant the writers were given a writing schedule they agreed to, and Young made the point of saying, even though people have this perception publishers of today are slow, Wiley worked to a tight framework, and the process in fact happened very quickly.

Publishing with Impact Valerie Khoo Heather Smith Trevor Young NSAA three

Publishing with Impact Valerie Khoo Heather Smith Trevor Young NSAA three

Did you work with a literary agent?

None of the writers on the panel ended up working with a literary agent for the books we were talking about. Young said he felt literary agents were perhaps for more fictional works. Khoo said she was in discussions with a literary agent initially, and these discussions went on simultaneously while talking with Wiley. In the end, the literary agent said Khoo had reached a point with the publisher on her own and she could not contribute anything further to the process. The literary agent kindly agreed to review the contract. Khoo went on to say she thought a literary agent can be useful for negotiating international royalties, and if negotiating is not your strong skill them you could benefit from working with a literary agent.

[Tweet “Working with a literary agent insights from @WileyBusiness authors”]

What benefits did you gain from publishing a book?

All the writers agreed having a book published through a reputable publishing house was the pinnacle element of marketing your expertise. There are many experts in the field. Young observed these days someone uploads a 6 page pdf to their website, calls it a book, and calls themselves an author. Working with a publishing house like Wiley gives you the solid credibility of being the authority in that field.

Additional benefits of writing included targeted consulting work, business opportunities, and key note speaking engagements like speaking at NSAA national conference!!

[Tweet “Benefits of publishing a book”]

What were the advantages of working through an established publisher?

All three books have been published in soft cover, as e-books, sell through the various distributors like iTunes and Kindle, and online library services. Power Stories and MicroDomination have been converted into audiobooks. Power Stories has been translated into numerous languages.

The audience asked if you worked with your own editor, so it’s appropriate to drop in here, Wiley assign an editor to work on the book, and time is slotted into the book writing schedule for the editing process.

All of these processes were organised by Wiley without the author’s involvement. It’s like a conveyor belt, the writer comes along with the idea, writes the story, and Wiley have in place resources and procedures to refine the book and distribute it. Smith said writing in a series gave her global distribution capacity she could not have achieved on her own.

The audience had specific questions about royalties and were surprised they were so high!

[Tweet “Advantages of working through an established publisher”]

What would you do differently next time you want to get a book publish?

Young mentioned he should have dedicated more time in his own schedule to the editing process.

Somehow this discussion, moved on to the book cover.

Young said his cover was designed in the US, and the subtitle was a very important part of the book.

Khoo explained subtitle was also important for her, and she tested various sub titles and book covers with trusted friends. She then tested the title using google AdWords to see what attracted a high click through rate.

Working with the For Dummies series, there is a formula for the book cover. Smith suggested the cyan tones, to mirror the corporate colours of Xero.

How would you suggest someone approaches a publisher?

Prior to writing their books Khoo and Young had no relationship with Wiley.

Prior to writing her first book, Smith too was a in a similar situation. All six books were written with Wiley.

After initial discussions with Wiley, to proceed the panelists were required to submit a proposal, which went through an approval process that typically involved both a concept approval and a financial approval.

Step back from this point part of the equation, leading up to this moment in time, we had all been prolific writers, content creators, and engaged within our community. The proposal process which is akin to writing a business plan for a book included a section where outlining social media presence, the number of followers, and connections and Klout score etc.

All three had proven their ability to write, and had an engaged community. So in terms of approaching a publisher, the recommendation was write, write, write.

The panel were asked where potential authors should write.  It was suggested to write on your blog, write for your industry association publications or any other associations you are a member off. If you’re specialty topic is business FlyingSolo is a good place to start. Smith shared having her first 350 word article published on FlyingSolo was just as exciting as having a 100 000 word book globally published.

The panel were asked where potential authors should write about.  Khoo felt you should write about something that you’re passionate about, something that really fires you up. She went on to say be careful not to be tagged with labels you don’t want to be associated with.

[Tweet “How to approach a publisher”]
Talking about the publishing process Valerie Khoo Heather Smith Trevor Young NSAA

Talking about the publishing process Valerie Khoo Heather Smith Trevor Young NSAA

Is there anything else you’d like to share about publishing?

Young felt that the days of gone are the days of a big book launch. The book marketing process is an ongoing one and starts the moment you sign the deal or begin writing your book.

After finishing the book project Smith said she personally was exhausted; really exhausted to a point that she did not understand how exhausted she was. Khoo shared she too was exhausted after the process.

Contact details for panelists:

Valerie Khoo


Trevor Young


Heather Smith


National Speakers Association of Australia

An association that supports experts who speak in Australia, helping people develop their speaking competencies and their speaking businesses. For more information: http://www.nationalspeakers.com.au/