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 mistakes … many that could have been prevented with a little prep work. Starting with these first five, next week will be Part II:
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 bookland. 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.
Savvy authors view publishing as a business and learn to evaluate what the costs are, as where their break-even comes into play.
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.