Today I’m starting a new series for serious authors. First, I’ll start by giving a common scenario. So many of my clients and the SPAWN members I meet spend months or years writing a book—the book they want to write. When it’s finished, they stress over the cover design—often turning the task of creating a cover over to their publisher, which is usually the first pay-to-publish company they find. And then they expend a great deal of energy into getting that book produced.
Some of these authors know nothing about publishing, their options or their responsibilities as a published author. They simply see others producing books and a pay-to-publish company representative has convinced them how easy it is to be published. So they just go for it. They have not opened one book, read one article or attended a writers conference. They may have visited a writers club meeting, but decided that wasn’t for them. So they know nothing about the business of publishing. They only know how to write and some are shaky in that area.
If you were to follow these authors around for the weeks and months after their book is published, you would probably see them looking confused. They would appear to be hoarding the box of books they ordered from the pay-to-publish company because there they sit in a corner of their living room waiting. Waiting for what? The author may be waiting, too—for customers to contact him, for a check to come from the pay-to-publish company… What most authors learn at some point is it just doesn’t work this way.
To do publishing up right—you must be proactive from the very beginning:
• Write the right book for the right audience.
• Know who your audience is.
• Know who your competition is.
• Save money to hire a competent editor.
• Study the publishing industry.
In order to have a good experience with your book project, you must write a book that is needed, wanted and that hasn’t been duplicated numerous times. You need to know where your audience is, how to reach them, how to approach them, how to entice them with your product, because, as we will discuss later this week, it is up to the author to promote his or her book.
You have to know who your competition is—this is how you learn whether or not your book is a good idea. If others have tried presenting a book like yours and it didn’t work out for them, find out why. Maybe your book isn’t a good idea. If there are many, many books like the one you plan out there already, maybe the market is saturated and you should look for a new angle. If you’ve already spent a year closed up in your writing room writing the book YOU want to write, you would never know until you publish it whether it is a book that is wanted/needed. Do your homework and do it early on.
That’s why I want you to study the publishing industry before you ever decide to write that book. Read about it—“Publish Your Book” (by Patricia Fry) is an excellent resource for all authors. Subscribe to enewsletters related to publishing and book promotion. Most of them are FREE. Attend at least one good writers conference. And participate!! This will give you a great opportunity to get a healthy perspective on publishing and book marketing.
Don’t expect publishing a book to be a way to make easy money. In fact, be prepared to spend money. If you aren’t in a position to pay a good book editor to fine-tune your book, go get a side job, sell something, put a portion of your earnings away. You need an editor before you can present your book to the public and I mean an established book editor—not a friend, a former high school teacher or a coworker who is good with words.
Producing a book is not a free way to make money. First of all, as you will learn when you study the publishing industry, few—very few people make much money from publishing a book. Sad but true. And those who do make some money, don’t just jump in with both feet and haphazardly go with their gut. They study the industry, take the initiative, understand the industry and take steps based on education and information, not unrealistic hopes and dreams.
Your assignment today is order “Publish Your Book” and begin learning about the publishing industry. Look at publishing a book like you would establishing a relationship. You should have an intimate relationship with your book by the time you finish writing, rewriting and self-editing it. Honor that relationship and foster it by following through—as you would with a child—commit, see it through all of the steps. But first, you must be aware of and understand all the steps.
And I’m not letting you off the hook if you are producing “just an ebook.” You have the same responsibility to your public and to your project as those who produce print books.