Everywhere you turn, there is info via the Internet , on the bookshelf, via videos, and certainly from workshops. You would think that any beginning author would start with a quick search on the Internet to begin their quest. It would certainly reveal a plethora of information—how to do it; what not to do; publish your book for a few hundred bucks, become a best-seller; sell books by the boatloads—you name it, it’s out there.
Yet, a huge number of would-be authors start the process clueless … compounded blunders and mistakes … many that could have been prevented with a little prep work. Starting with these 10:
1 Believing that your mom, brother, sister, pal, neighbor will do the editing that your book—every book—needs. Unless they edit for a living, do ask them to read your book for a basic “flow”—does it flow, is the story/concept connected? Is there a beginning, middle, and end? If it’s non-fiction, does it provide solutions? Is it clear, to the point? If it’s fiction, is the story engaging? Are the characters interesting? Does the reader care about them what they do, become, happens?
Savvy authors work with an editor that “gets” their book, supports the “voice” of the author and does it for a living.
2 Believing that your book is for everyone. Get over it—your book isn't for everyone—that’s a fantasy. Could it sell zillions of copies to lots of people? Sure—but not everyone.
Savvy authors-to-be learn early on that a book that has a niche market can gather a following—followings lead to book sales and chatter. Chatter is good.
3 Believing that your book will be a roaring success and sell mega-thousands of books. And for that matter, too, too many authors-to-be are not really able to determine what success means in book land. The latest and greatest story about an author who has sold a million copies via the 99 cent
e-Book route is surely going to happen … maybe …most like, not. Be realistic—the average author in the self-published arena sells a few hundred copies. That’s it. If with a New York publisher, it’s not a lot more.
Savvy authors know that if their book is going to be a roaring success, it’s they, and only they that will make it happen. In other words, they've got to work their butts off. And they need a plan to do it. Success doesn’t have to mega-thousands in book sales—it can mean consulting, recognition, media appearances, speaking engagements, another book, even just a few letters from buys who have written saying what a difference the book made in their lives.
4 Believing that you can wing your way to success. Game plans are important. In fact, they are critical. See above. They include the who, what, where, when and why. Plans ID who the target market/reader is; they are clear about what the book is about and what it’s purpose is; they know where there market is; when the timing is ideal to launch the book (and yes, launching needs a plan as well); and they are very, very clear as to why they are writing the book and why they, the authors, should be the author.
Savvy authors have fire in their belly—that they need a plan to keep the fire burning.
5 Believing that publishing is not really a business. Not grasping the simple fact that publishing is a business; that there is a P&L you need to understand and answer to; that understanding and negotiating contracts will come into play; and that you need to view that you have an investment in play.
6 Believing that book marketing starts after a book is published. There is nothing vague about marketing. It starts before the book goes to print—if you didn't, it starts now. Today, it is seeded with lists—who knows ya’ baby! Social media is an active ingredient in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Groups (especially for business books), Pinterest (if your book’s market is for the female audience, Pinterest is a must), YouTube, and Blogs—yours and others that are your genre oriented. For fiction authors, eBooks are a great tool in kicking off a book—offering free chapters to seduce readers before rolling out the book and building a buzz
Ideally, you want a marketing plan in place long before you go to print. Most authors don’t. It’s part of the over-all plan. For authors who are post printing, it doesn't mean all is lost. It just means you've got to move faster and smarter. Now.
Savvy authors include in their marketing plans which platforms they will be working with and on; what their budgets are; what and where their personal skills are best used; what pros do they need to assist them; what time are they going to dedicate to marketing; what lists/names they need to build within social media; what blogs they should follow to make both comments on as well as to reach out when time is right to launch/market their books; what complimentary promotions would be a fit; what industry, association or groups might be possible fits to connect with; and so much more. It’s part of the plan. The good news is that the Internet has allowed authors to roll-out a variety of different launch strategies to keep books alive.
7 Believing that if you pay a company to publish your book, you are “self” of “independent” published. Understand this: If you pay a publisher to publish your book, and that publisher uses its own ISBN on your book, you have not self-published—you are in what is called a “pay-to-publish” operation; a subsidy publisher; or a vanity press. You really have little control or little say. In most cases, editing in non-existent; cover and interior designs are so-so—usually done via a template of sorts … you get to choose vanilla or vanilla.
Savvy authors know that vanity presses usually produce an inferior looking book that few reviewers care about and that most bookstores ignore. The stigma that the “self” and “indie” markets carried is evaporating. To make sure that you don’t get caught in the fog—create a quality print book using book professionals. For eBooks, professionals are still used for editing, cover design, sometimes layout and marketing strategies.
8 Believing that you can do it all yourself. Can you do it all? Sure … and it would look like it. Errors are guaranteed—from the cover, to the copy on it, to the interior and the editing. In other words, it’s everywhere.
Savvy authors know that authoring and publishing is a team thing—it isn’t a solo act. Get help—ask around. Look at covers that you think rock—who designed it? Always read the Acknowledgements and copyright page—you will usually see these pros that were major assists in the creation of the book ID’d. Google them.
9 Believing that everyone should pay for a book. Give some away—in fact, it may be a key marketing strategy to give a lot away. For reviews from print; for testimonials (think Amazon); for consideration for a speaking gig; for libraries; for contests; for raffles; for getting your name and title out there; for who knows what … it’s all part of marketing.
Savvy authors routinely give away hundreds of copies.
10 Believing that time is short and you have to rush to publish. Outside of poor editing, failure to use professionals; and failure to market—rushing to publishing guarantees failure in a massive way. Breathe along the way—get the right cover, the cover that really says what the book is about and beckons to the reader; the right interior layout—the one invites the reader in and creates a visual path to eases and supports the reading journey; the right editing—the one that supports your voice and vision; if you are printing, the right printer—not all are the same; if you are going the electronic route—learn how to do it right if you are going to try it solo … or engage someone who professionally lays out e-Books. And most of all, write with your voice and write well. If it’s not your skill, get help.
Savvy authors know that books don’t happen overnight.
Every author will make a blunder … most likely, plenty of them. Some will cost little in money; others lots. Some can be corrected with a few tweaks; others will need a wrecking ball to unravel what happened. Know that you will have mistakes—they’re rarely book fatal, although it’s a possibility. They can be costly, bruise your ego and slow your publication … and in many cases, were preventable. Get savvy, get smart … and ask questions before you start the process.
Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd a book publishing expert and coach. She is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms, Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences.
Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at http://togi.us/authoru. Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at Judith@Briles.com.