So you’ve decided to write a book … That’s great! I just want you to understand all the effort, energy, blood, sweat and tears that you put into birthing that book (for some people this is a decades-long process) adds up to only 5% of the work needed to have a successful publication.
Only. Five. Percent.
Wait! Don’t walk away just yet.
I liken this to the statement I make to parents when they can’t quite shake worrying about their little ones who are not in their presence. I explain it’s understandable – no one is going to watch or care for your children the way you do. As parents you inherently know this. The same goes for your book. No one is going to care for it or attend to it the way you have. That includes your publisher.
So here are five tips to move you towards a more successful outcome as an author:
- Have fun! If this has become like labor – painful, bloody, gory and you’re just not having a good time – then put it aside for now at least. Your writing is going to reflect the state you’re in. Even if it’s a painful, emotionally-charged subject you’re writing about, catharsis can be fun. Seriously, even if you’re challenged it can be fun. However if you are dreading every moment of it then you’re not accessing your highest level of creativity. Put it aside. You may or may not come back to it. That’s okay. Find the piece that you can have fun with and write that one.
- Do it for the right reasons. If you’re looking to write a book to make millions, stop it. No, I mean it. Stop it. Yes, it happens for some people. That is up there with the odds of getting struck by lightning. If you’re writing to give back, share insight, information, education, inspiration, humor, or take people on a guided tour of the world you created in your mind with the hopes that they connect to that world … well then, you’re doing it for the right reasons.
- PAY for experienced editing. Your third cousin once removed who has an advanced degree in English may be able to help you format sentence structure, but unless he is an experienced book editor you’re wasting both of your time. An experienced book editor is going to put things in the right order so that it makes sense to the reader. Just because it makes sense to you doesn’t mean the reader will get it. I have a wonderful editor who I’ve worked with for many years and she knows how to turn a phrase to bring greater clarity to my work while retaining my voice. That’s important. An experienced book editor is also going to format the work for you as well.
- Don’t depend on your publisher to make it happen. Their job is to bring the book to market, your job is to get the market ready. Publicity, publicity, publicity! Get out there and speak about it, do radio interviews about it, hit social media with it, get in on joint venture with colleagues to promote it, just do one or two things daily from the time the book hits final edit and consistently build buzz. You can automate a lot of these things so that the well-oiled machine keeps running long after the book launch.
- Don’t give away the milk for free. I know you’ve heard “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” – and a lot of authors feel that giving away portions of or entire books will keep people from buying them. Not so, I say! Use your blog or a guest blog to share excerpts from your book or whole chapters. It generates buzz, and people hate feeling like they’ve left something unfinished, so they’ll be inclined to buy to read the rest.