The problem most first-time authors face is that they’re great at writing but they’re lousy at publishing. They don’t understand how books are made or how they are sold. They don’t realize the simple fact that writing their book is only 5% of the work involved in selling books.
What are the most common misunderstandings? As a publisher, I’ve seen the gamut, but here are just a few:
- They think if they write it, buyer’s will just show up automatically.
- They are overconfident that their title will easily outshine the 300,000 new titles published each year.
- They think publicity is someone else’s job
- They misjudge their audience’s buying habits.
- They create the cover art themselves or ask/hire a friend to do it for them.
To become a best selling author you’ll need to get educated about literary agents, book proposals, book size options, pricing, cover design, interior layout, proof editing, distribution and how to work with major retail chains. There are lots of ways to gain this experience. You can go to author events, survey a variety of publishing blogs, or talk with your friends and colleagues who are successful published authors.
You can also check with a publishing insider who makes a living in this complex marketplace. A quick discussion will reveal the areas where your book is strong and where your tactics need to change.
For example, do you plan to publish your book in hard copy, digital, audiobook or all? Keep in mind that Amazon sells more digital books than print books, but both formats remain popular. Consider that having a hard copy of your book can boost your credibility as an author and give your audience something to remember you by. Checking with an expert can help you make the right decision.
Exclusively Yours – Or Not
Most authors tend to think of Amazon exclusively when they think of publishing their book. However, Amazon is only one sales channel for your book. There are literally hundreds book retailers – along with special companies whose purchases far exceed Amazon for certain books.
If you want to tap into the market in the most effective way, you’re probably going to need some help reaching the buyers for those retail and corporate markets. Even in the Digital Age of do-it-yourself , having a publisher is a big help with this task.
The difficulty in using a legacy publisher – those traditional publishing houses that once ruled the literary world – is that they hold all the cards. A legacy publisher has no qualm about taking control of your manuscript, paying you a pittance for it, then burying it in a warehouse after 90 days on the market – literally sinking your project until your contract expires years from now.
Whenever possible, publish your book non-exclusively so you can reap royalties from a wider variety of platforms. Using an assisted self-publishing model can help you navigate these waters more safely and effectively.
Even after you choose to self-publish, you can hire an agency to help sell your book into retail markets nationwide and around the world. Before going this route, consult with an expert to ensure your book is designed and priced perfectly so you’re not left holding the cards when returns start rolling-in.
There has never been a better time in history to be an author. However, having your book on the virtual shelves of retailers worldwide isn’t’ enough by today’s publishing standards. The #1 problem for authors is that of obscurity in online catalogs, with millions upon millions of book listings. The smartest idea for your book publishing may just be that you don’t have to know it all. A wise captain of industry knows when to work with a team.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. He works with bestselling authors and consultants which have included the late Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher and marketer. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.