When I speak at events or read emails from authors, a lot of people say: "I'm ready to publish." In fact, many of them are, but the lion's share of these folks really aren't. Wondering which category you fall into? Here's a list of some ways to know that you're just not ready and what to do to improve your publishing game.
- You haven't researched the (publishing) industry: This is pretty important. You need to understand your industry, what's going on and what changes are going to affect your book and publishing experience. How can you do that? Get to know the trades that report on publishing, read them, read blogs, know what is happening in the industry. Believe me, it's not only good to stay current but it could save you a lot of time and money. And who knows, you might even learn a thing or two about this often chaotic market!
- You haven't researched your market or genre: This is another biggie and oddly enough, very often overlooked. Do you know what's selling in your industry? Who else is writing about your topic? Have you bought or read their books? It's important to know what's trending in your market, what's selling and what isn't. It's always good to read other people's work because you really want to know how others are addressing the topic that you're going to be writing about. Not only that, but these could be great people to network with.
- You hope to get famous: Another hot button. First, who really wants to be famous in the age of Twitter and YouTube? Okay, well, maybe you really do. If that's the case, don't spend too much time dreaming about it in publishing because fame is always preceded by hard work, and a lot of it. The problem with best-selling authors such as Amanda Hocking and others who have started with nothing and become success stories is that everyone wants to emulate them. It's wonderful to have a goal but it's not always realistic. Most authors who have attained great success didn't just show up at the fame-party ready to sign autographs. Most of them probably spent months working tirelessly to get the word out about their book. Could fame happen? Maybe. But first focus on the work.
- You believe that book sales are what it's all about: It's not the end-game, trust me. Book sales are often elusive and never, ever guaranteed. We recently had an author say that she was considering hiring a marketing firm who promised her X number of book sales. Unless they planned to buy the books themselves there's no way anyone can know how many copies of a book will sell. Create other goals or other mile markers. Yes, we all want to sell books and sure, at some point that will happen, but much like point No. 3, this is always preceded by a lot of hard work.
- You haven't started marketing your book: So you're at the threshold of publishing and haven't done a single thing to market your book? That's bad news. Why? Because there were 300,000 books published in 2012, and if you want to break through that noise you'd better start early.
- You're impatient: Book publishing and impatience are not a good mixture. A publishing study done by IBPA cited that it could take up to two years to show any returns on a book you've been working on. Now, two years might seem like a super long time, and yes, it is. But candidly, everything in book publishing and marketing takes a while. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but there's no place for impatience in this industry. This was a hard one for me, too. If you look up the word impatience you'll see my picture there. Take a deep breath and a step back. As long as you're doing everything you can, and you're doing the right stuff, you'll eventually see a return.
- You have no marketing plan: It doesn't need to be formal, but you should have an idea of what you're going to do to market your book. Some kind of guideline, something that gives a structure to your plans, your goals, and your marketing efforts.
Finally, let's talk about editing. This extremely important step is often overlooked by authors. Why? Because it's easy to find someone to edit a book, right? Wrong. Editing is a pretty specialized skill set; someone who can find "typos" isn't a good editor. You want someone to help you raise the bar on your work and create a final product that is something you can really be proud of. An editor will give you critical feedback (especially if you've hired a content editor, which I highly recommend), and often improve your work beyond what you might have been able to do on your own.
It's good to remember that publishing isn't just about finding the right place to print and publish your book. It's about a lot more than that. Publishing is a business, if you treat it as a business model you will always succeed.
So, ready to achieve success in publishing? Coming soon: 10 Ways to Succeed in Publishing!