by Alicia Dunams
Today’s publishing industry ain’t your grandmother’s publishing industry, that’s for sure. Within the last five, ten years—things have changed. Information zips around the globe and back in seconds. If you’ve got a story, a message, a product you’re just dying to get out, you don’t have to wait. You shouldn’t have to wait. It’s in your hands to make it happen right now!
But first, let’s check your thinking.
Are you guilty of these three publishing misconceptions?
1. “Real” books must come from traditional publishers and should be found in bookstores.
Now that we’ve got desktop publishing, print-on-demand (POD), and e-publishers like Create Space, self-publishing is taking the world by storm. Did you know traditional publishing takes two years on average? That’s after you’ve written the book, queried publishers, and landed a contract. If you’ve got a message that people need to hear, if you’re ready to unleash it on the world, you don’t have time for that! You want it out now.
And actually, a bookstore is probably the worst place to sell your book in the age of tablets and e-readers. Due to a paradigm shift in the publishing world (over 400,000 books get published each year), maybe one or two copies of your book will end up shelved in the back, spine out. (Can you imagine a traditional bookstore squeezing one copy of every new release—just from that year—into its stock? No? Neither can I.) There’s very little real estate on a bookstore shelf. And what if your book is just what Karen in Ottawa is looking for, but she’s never even heard of it because her neighbourhood store doesn’t happen to stock it? How’s she going to get it?
2. You can submit a proposal and get a big advance from a major publisher before writing the book.
Sorry to burst your bubble. Approximately 98% of proposals sent to acquisition editors are rejected. In fact, more major publishers like Simon and Schuster are adopting a self-publishing formula to mitigate financial risk.
3. A traditional publisher will pay for and do my marketing for me.
Wrong again! When it comes to publicity, you are it. These days every author, self-published or not, has to take the marketing end of the business into his or her own hands, create a marketing strategy, and network like crazy, primarily online. You can sell more books in front of your computer, creating online demand through your own or your friends’ blogs, article dashboards, viral video, and social networking. New media is where it’s at. Don’t know your Facebook from your Twitter? Don’t worry—you can learn it.
Those are just a few of the misconceptions that still float around today. And what about the biggest mistakes an author can make when prepping, writing, and marketing a book? Here are three of the biggest I’ve seen:
1. Delaying the writing of the book.
Whether it’s your inner editor picking over imperfections, or your inner Doubting Dan making excuses (Does “I just don’t have time!” sound familiar?), we all find reasons to put off a job that seems difficult and overwhelming. Guess what? While you’re busy flinging more Angry Birds at Fruit Ninjas (joking!), each day your book stays “all up in the ol’ noggin” is another day it’s not spreading your ideas or converting customers. It’s another day your book isn’t working for you.
2. Expecting the book to finds its own audience.
That doesn’t happen. Books themselves are passive; they don’t seek out the correct audience for you. They don’t put themselves in front of readers. So before you even begin writing, you need to identify your audience and shape your content for them. If you’re writing about best alternative medicine for pain, don’t throw in every other method you’ve tried. Target it toward the people who need it.
3. Expecting the book to stand on its own and rake in the money.
Great, you’ve written the book. So now you just kick back and wait for the royalties to roll in, right? Nope. Your book becomes your calling card, something that gets you where you want to be. You leverage it. Give away a chapter or two for free. Have easy bonuses like worksheets, printable charts, and downloadable activities on your website—accessible with e-mail opt-in, of course, so you can build your client database. Whatever your book is, it’s not the end-all, be-all culmination of your life’s work. It’s merely the springboard that launches you, and what you have to offer, into new territory. And that’s exciting!
So those were the myths, the mistakes. What should you be doing to write a kick-ass book about your work or your brand? Every author has his or her own approach. But there a few nuggets of truth I recommend to everyone. You can’t go wrong with these three to-dos.
1. (Most of) your budget should go toward marketing.
You’re wondering about the numbers, am I right? Book layouts, colour printing, fancy paper. All that adds up. Now, a book with valuable information will sell. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Spend your money on marketing instead. That includes a bold, professional cover.
2. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
You’re the expert. But maybe you’re not the fastest writer. Or maybe you’re not the best editor. Tell you what–it’s OK to get some help! Dump all that information out somewhere. Just get it out. Let a ghostwriter or an editor do what they do best. That way, you can focus on doing what you do best, be it helping your patients or talking up new clients.
3. Give your reader value.
Good writing doesn’t create bestsellers—demand does. It’s only when your book gives people something they want that your book might even begin to approach bestseller-dom.
Have you been thinking about writing a book? I hope sharing my 3 misconceptions, 3 blunders, and 3 to-dos got you thinking about the next step in becoming an author!
Alicia Dunams (@AliciaDunams) is the founder of Bestseller in a Weekend®, a live online workshop that helps business professionals write, publish, and market books in record time. Dunams also coaches her clients on how to promote their book and achieve bestseller status. To contact Alicia Dunams, please visit http://www.aliciadunams.com/. She also offers an evergreen webinar on book publishing you can check out here.