Have you discovered that the road to publishing success is rather bumpy? Itâ€™s not easy to locate the freeway, is it?
Iâ€™ve spent much of the last several weeks trying to steer authors and would-be authors toward the onramp. Iâ€™m working with clients, of course, but I also get a lot of random questions via email. This week, I received emails from 2 hopeful authors asking, â€œHow can I get my book of poetry published?â€ Three others asked how to promote their booksâ€”these included a self-help book, and two novels. Another budding author emailed me asking how to write a book proposal.
When people ask broad questions like these, their lack of knowledge about the publishing industry becomes obvious. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with being uninformed. We all started out that way. Nor is it a sin to ask questions. Thatâ€™s how we learn. The problem is that most hopeful authors who ask major questions that typically need complex responses, are going to close their eyes, put their fingers in their ears and chant â€œLA LA LA,â€ when they hear the answers. Most of them donâ€™t want to do what is necessary to succeed or even survive in the competitive field of publishing.
So how do I respond to these questions? Because I canâ€™t stand by and watch authors self-destruct, I always provide them with some specific information and resources they can use. But I also strongly urge them to:
â€¢ Study the publishing industry.
â€¢ Write a complete book proposal.
Simplistic, you say? Some authors will even tell me, â€œBeen there, done that.â€ But when they turn around and ask me, â€œHow do I find a publisher for my book?â€ or “What’s the best way to promote a book?” I know they havenâ€™t truly finished their homework.
So what do I mean about studying the publishing industry? How does one go about this?
1: Read my book, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. Also read some of the books I suggest as recommended readingâ€”if youâ€™re interested in self-publishing, Dan Poynterâ€™s Self Publishing Manual, if you are considering a POD fee-based publishing service, Mark Levineâ€™s The Fine Print, for a wider understanding of book promotion, Brian Judâ€™s Beyond the Bookstore, for example.
2: Join publishersâ€™ organizations, SPAWN, PMA and SPAN, for example. Participate in their discussion groups, read the articles and check out the resources at their sites and read every newsletter.
3: Subscribe to magazines and newsletters related to publishing. (Read the SPAWN Market Update in the member area of the SPAWN Web site. Read the PMA Independent and SPAN Connection from cover to cover, as well.)
4: Search the Net. Spend time each week checking out the resources youâ€™ve already discovered and searching for additional resources, articles, discussion groups and books. Use these materials and sites to gather additional information you need about the industry (your publishing options, how to choose and approach publishers/agents, what are your responsibilities as a published author, etc.).
The second thing you MUST do is write a book proposal. Forget about writing it for a publisher. (Although, of course, a publisher will, most likely, want to see it at some point.) The most important reason for writing a book proposal for a nonfiction, fiction and even a childrenâ€™s book or book of poetry, is YOU. Hereâ€™s what you really must know before launching out into this highly competitive field with your manuscript. And this is true whether you plan to land a major publisher; go with one of the many smaller publishers; sign with a fee-based, POD self-publishing service or self-publish (establish your own publishing company). Through the process of writing a book proposal, you will learn:
1: Is the proposed book a viable product/is there a market for it?
2: Who is my target audience and how large is it?
3: How will I reach this audience?
4: How will I promote the book?
5: What is my competition?
6: What is my platform? (Credentials, expertise, following, way of attracting an audience.) If you donâ€™t have a platform, start now establishing one.
A well-developed book proposal can tell you whether you have a book at all and, if not, how to tweak it so it is a viable product.
Of course, all of this should be done before even considering writing a book. Unfortunately, many hopeful and new authors operate on emotions rather than business sense. They havenâ€™t learned yet that publishing is not an extension of their writing.
Wake up folks! Why do you think that over three-quarters (3/4) of all books fail? Itâ€™s because most authors bypass the onramp to publishing success.
1: They produce a book that is not well-written on a subject of interest to only a small segment of people or a slant that actually repels the very audience they want to attract.
2: Even though they have never written anything before, they trust that theyâ€™ve done it well and donâ€™t bother to hire an editor.
3: They start seeking publication immediately after placing the last period. When their book isnâ€™t welcomed with open arms by the majors, they pay a publishing service to produce it. This is okay, if the author is industry-savvy and understands the contract before signing it.
4: They never consider, until itâ€™s too late, that they will have to promote the book. Or they donâ€™t think this truth applies to them. One hopeful author told me several months ago that his book would sell itself. IF he ever got published and if he didnâ€™t change his attitude, Iâ€™m pretty sure his is one of the over 948,000 titles that sold fewer than 100 copies last year.
Whatâ€™s the answer? What is the key to publishing success? Itâ€™s nothing newâ€”itâ€™s not a big secret. Just think back on the other successes youâ€™ve experienced in your lifetime. What were they based on? If youâ€™re candid, your list will probably include:
Think about it, your business (sports, parenting, relationship, artistic and other) successes were based on these attributes and activities. It only makes sense that you would consider them when seeking success as an author.
If you are in any stage of authorship, stop the forward motion now and 0rder your copy of The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. http://www.matilijapress.com
Watch for the pre-publication discount offer for the revised edition of this book. Visit this blog often for more information.