How I Got Published (Big Time) by Lance Akiyama

How does an author get their book published by a big company, as opposed to doing it on their own? Hard work and good fortune figured into how a big-time publisher of how-to books reached out to Lance Akiyama. Together, they’ve put out four books (including a revised version of one) by him about how to make cool stuff from rubber bands, duct tape, and more.

Do you have first-hand experience? I’m gathering a following of fiction lovers who might enjoy my soon-to-be-published books, “Flamenco and the Sitting Cat,” and “Tango and the Sitting Cat.” Other authors have posted on Happiness Between Tails about their book experiences here and here and here and here and here and here.

Read on for Lance’s post about how he got published. He notes that non-fiction vs. fiction call for different methods…

Lance Akiyama, author of "Duct Tape Engineer" and more.
Lance Akiyama, author of “Duct Tape Engineer” and more.

How I Got Published (Big Time) by Lance Akiyama

My process for getting published was pretty unusual. I had created a series of free project tutorials on, which ranks pretty well if you search Google for ‘engineering projects for kids.’ At some point, my publisher’s editor had a book idea for a series of gadgets that were powered by rubber bands and made from household items. She went searching for someone who could realize that vision, found my work, and offered me the book deal! I don’t think many people have offers to become an author just drop into their inbox, but that’s how it happened.

DIY project books are a bit different than publishing a novel. There’s no outline phase. Instead, there’s a tinkering phase; I had to experiment with about 30-40 project ideas before settling on 20-ish and then spending more time fine-tuning those ideas so they could be easily recreated at home by the reader. The editing phase is more focused on the clarity of the step-by-step instructions rather than the plot or character development. And finally, I had to take hundreds of pictures in my tiny home studio. Well, ‘studio’ is a generous term. Really it was a folding table with a cloth backdrop that was set up in my bedroom. But eventually all the pieces came together, and the publisher’s design team polished up all the content into a great-looking layout!

The next few books followed a similar pattern: my editor had an idea, asked me if I wanted to author the book, and then tinkered & wrote & produced all the materials. But after 4 books plus one revised edition, I think I’m ready to take a break from writing!

Cover of "Duct Tape Engineer" by Lance Akiyama.

About Lance Akiyama: he’s an avid tinkerer, and voted Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. He currently holds a full-time position as a science curriculum developer for Galileo Learning, an innovative summer camp company. His mission is to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and artists with hands-on projects that make kids think, “I can’t believe I made that!”

Have you published a book?

15 thoughts on “How I Got Published (Big Time) by Lance Akiyama

  1. atkokosplace March 12, 2019 / 11:31 am

    That’s fantastic. What a great opportunity and well you are super talented so it comes to no surprise. Luck went your way and you were ready when it came! Well done! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. N.Z. Robotewske March 12, 2019 / 8:50 am

    Another inspiring read to start the day! Passion, ability, perseverance, work, and then more hard work…I’ll think of more throughout the day.

    Thank you both for sharing. Way to go, Lance! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Stella, oh, Stella March 12, 2019 / 2:46 am

    How very interesting! I have to check this out! Great for Lance, that he had so much success. I wish the same for you. You have so many followers, should that not help spreading the message when your books come out?

    Liked by 2 people

    • da-AL March 12, 2019 / 10:27 am

      that’s my hope — though are they all lovers of novels? — either way, it’s fun to blog & meet so many lovely folks from everywhere 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stella, oh, Stella March 12, 2019 / 10:52 am

        Maybe not everybody likes novels, but they follow you, and ergo must like something about you. And they might have friends who like novels … 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharon Bonin-Pratt March 12, 2019 / 12:33 am

    Lance, you’re so creative and talented, I’m not surprised by your deserved success.
    Daal, thank you for another interesting publishing story.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. lloydslensphotographyllc March 11, 2019 / 9:50 pm

    Judging by my wife’s experience, you throw away a lot of rejection letters and keep pushing. We self published on Amazon but the real challenge is promoting the book. A big name publisher will have the resources to promote for you but you give up a lot of control. She’s been writing for about three years now but we’re still looking for that big break. We do have a possible lead and waiting to hear more.

    Liked by 2 people

    • da-AL March 11, 2019 / 9:57 pm

      wishing you the best – the way I see it, big companies take a huge cut, but then the do a lot, but then they take a big cut…


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