Posted by: nancyisanders | July 3, 2008

ABC Adventure: Piggyback

Are you a famous author? Are you landing book contracts with six-digit advances? Do you have editors from the big houses contacting you, begging you to write their next bestseller?

No? Neither do I. That’s why I piggyback.

Learning to piggyback is an important strategy to use as you’re narrowing your search for a potential alphabet book publisher to target. As an author, I learned to piggyback early on in my career. I learned the importance of not being a Lone Ranger writer. By God’s grace, I learned how to piggyback and the result has been that many of my books become solid titles for my different publishers and land significant numbers of sales.

What does it mean to piggyback? And how do you do it? It’s easy—but the timing is crucial. You must learn to piggyback before you ever write a single word of your manuscript.

A Lone Ranger writer gets an idea, writes her manuscript, and tries to sell it. If, on the remote chance, a publisher offers a contract, then the book is published. The publisher relies on you to generate ideas to market your book. Nobody knows your name yet, so it’s hard and very frustrating to try to get your book in the hand of bookstores. Sales are slow and disappointing.

A writer who piggybacks, however, studies the publishers. She finds a successful series the publisher is already doing. Then she creates an idea that fits into that publisher’s series. The result? The publisher is interested in the idea and willing to give this unknown author a chance because the idea fits into their already existing series. After the book is published, the publisher generates a great marketing plan for your book because they treat your book just like all the other ones in that series. This could include postcards, posters, booksignings! Sales are good because there are already libraries, schools, and museums who know this publisher’s series and automatically purchase their newest title—your book.

Bingo. You’re automatically on your way to becoming a successful author! You piggybacked on the publisher’s success and marketing strategy.

So while you’re busy investigating the ABC titles that the three publishers publish, look for ways to piggyback. It will send you to the top of the charts!


  1. Thank you so much for your insights on the publishing industry. I am an illustrator and I am trying to adapt your ideas to illustration. I love a proactive approach. It seems counter-intuitive to just sit around waiting for the magic contract to drop in your lap. Thanks for your wonderfully straight forward advice.

  2. Hi Laura! Wow, I’m so glad these tips can help you as an illustrator, too. Yes, proactive seems to land the contracts. Best wishes to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: