Keller Media Blog

Want to be a published author?

by Wendy Keller, literary agent since 1989

After 2 decades plus in publishing, I’ve got a pretty good idea of why some books get published by a “real” publisher and some don’t and end up either failing as self-published books or never even seeing the light of commerce at all.  I’ve seen the same syndrome in hopeful, would-be authors a billion and a half times (or so it seems!)  This syndrome can pretty much be summed up as “Ivory Tower Syndrome.”

This is basically when you believe your book (or book idea) is SO good, SO brilliant, SO exciting that it gosh-darn doesn’t matter to you if no one else agrees.

It’s mean to tell you, but here goes:  Chances are, if no agents are elbowing one another for the opportunity to represent your book; if publishers aren’t reaching over one another to offer you a contract, you have Ivory Tower Syndrome…guaranteed.

Publishing is a business.  Businesses are in business to make a profit.  My agency exists FIRST to make money, SECOND to serve the world with useful, helpful, good books.  I WANT your book if I can sell it.  But if you are locked up in your “right-ness” of how brilliant your book is, and you have ZERO SOCIAL PROOF, then no one can sell it.  Social proof is also known as “platform” or “fan base” or “audience.”  If you have 10,000 or 100,000 social media followers, we all know your content is interesting to the world.  But if you have 10 or 100, well…you’re a big risk and so is your book.

How do you heal yourself from Ivory Tower Syndrome? 3 Tips!

ONE: Start blogging!  As authors, you are all writers.  You will NEVER know if people will respond to you unless you put your content out there.  If it makes you nervous, you don’t have to give away the store. Just give tidbits of your perspective, idea, opinions and see if people respond. The fastest, easiest way to start attracting people to you (and thus building your platform while destroying your Ivory Tower!) is to a) put a blog on your website b) copy it to a FaceBook Page and c) Advertise a bit on Facebook.

“If you build it, they will come”…if they know you’re there and they are interested in what you’re offering.

TWO:  Research competing books on Amazon. Type in the words your future book buyers will use to find your book.  See if those books are selling.  Look at the Amazon “sales rank” (about halfway down the page).  If ALL the books like yours, even loosely like yours, have “bad” numbers (that is, sales ranks HIGHER than 150K or so, like number 1,435,211) then your topic IS NOT SELLING and your audience DOES NOT EXIST in sufficient quantities to make it worth your further investment or an agent’s or a publisher’s.

THREE:  Adapt to the truth. Now that you’re out in the garden with the rest of us peasants, and out of that Ivory Tower, you see that real people may be interested in only a small portion of your Great Idea, or not interested in it at all. Now what?  ADAPT!  Edit, re-write, re-think, re-tool, re-organize, re-anything. Then test THAT new and improved idea in the same ways outlined above.  If you honestly, humbly follow this simple advice, you WILL succeed.


 If you honestly, humbly follow this simple advice, you WILL succeed.


Truly, getting published is EASY if you build your proof that the world wants what you are offering it, and difficult only if you are trying to cram something down their throats.  Follow the three steps above and watch how fast your results improve!  Best wishes.

Keller Media is giving away a FREE ebook to help you find an agent who loves you and your work and who will help you achieve your goals.  Just click here:

YES! Please send me the FREE ebook on getting an agent.


  1. Thanks for the post.

    “Ivory Tower Syndrome”… interesting and a very good term.

    Yes, totally agree that many authors have unrealistic expectations. Especially now day and age when 1500 books are published everyday on Kindle alone. It is absolutely true that a good book is not enough (unless you are already well-known or have good fan base).

    • Thanks, Oskari. The thing that blows my mind, in thousands of queries per year, is how EASY it would have been for these authors to figure out how to differentiate and pre-test their content. If only they’d do that, their whole publishing future would change!

      I appreciate you writing.

      Wendy Keller

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