The Journey from Manuscript to Published Book
While I have thoroughly enjoyed writing my book, I have also discovered a tremendous amount of information along the way that I wished I would have known from the very beginning. My journey has been punctuated by quite a few mistakes along the way. Fortunately, I find mistakes very enlightening. Once you’ve finished lamenting them, you solve the problems they create and—hopefully—never make them again! Join me as I share some of the tips I have gleaned along the way.
When I embarked on my first book, I was simply preoccupied with telling a good story, and having a good time while doing it. I didn’t really care about the production of it into a novel (when I use the term production, I am referring to everything that comes after you finish writing. This includes editing, typesetting, cover design etc.). I most certainly had no thought about marketing in my mind! After all, I was an artist. I could hardly be expected to lend my mind to lowly pecuniary considerations!
What I did not account for was that I would actually finish writing the thing one day. And when I did, I was faced with what alternately appeared to be a good book and a terrible waste of time. The perception that it was a good book prevailed and I launched myself into what I termed earlier, the production phase. That was hard and tedious. Compelled by my professional training, I trudged on and lo and behold, that phase was also complete.
Then, I found myself staring into the abyss of commercial considerations. On the other end of this frightening chasm of the death of lofty artistic considerations, stood my book, clothed in the light of success, bearing the seal of best-sellership. I gasped. Perhaps I could find an alternate path to the dream of success. But alas! I had, for better or worse, chosen to tread the path of self-publication. This meant that if my book were ever to fall into the hands of those wonderful persons who shared my taste in books, it would be because I had placed it there.
When the requisite amount of time for feeling sorry for myself had passed, I began to explore opportunities to market my book. Some were frightfully complex options, requiring me to beat algorithms of varying natures. My literary minded brain reeled and I fled, terrified, from the scene for a few hours. When I returned, I decided to chart a course of action that I would implement. While plot outlines have never failed to fail me, I felt fairly confident that an outline and strategy for marketing would be a sound idea, as the two enterprises were considerably different from each other. Accordingly, I created a bulleted list (another frightening consequence of my academic background) of strategies to pursue.
After reading a number of articles on the subject, I came to the conclusion that I would have to set aside my intense aversion for social media (more on that in another post) and embrace it, at least momentarily. Every piece of advice to authors I encountered on the Internet, ordered me to create a social media presence without the slightest delay. I recoiled from most of the advice splashed on these sites, until I ran into two excellent posts that encouraged me to take the plunge. I will revisit this subject with links to these posts at a later date.
My mind reeled at the idea that giving away my books for free would help me sell more. Nevertheless, the prevailing wisdom in the marketplace is that book giveaways are good for business. Authors can post giveaways on sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, book blogs etc.
Good old-fashioned advertising is another option for authors who wish to promote their books. These are usually planned to a set budget and you are charged every time someone clicks on your ad. You can customize your advertising campaign to suit your required timeframe and your budget and even track the effectiveness of the advertisements in terms of sales generated.
Lots of advice directed at self-published authors is centered upon soliciting reviewers who will post unbiased reviews of your work on sites where your book is listed for sale. It is important to distinguish between customer reviews and professional reviews. The options for the latter may be somewhat limited for self-published authors. Furthermore the desired outcome from each can be different.
Independent publishers often find the doors to large and prestigious book awards shut in their faces. Fortunately, several independent publishing awards are available and open to those taking the self-publishing route to book publishing.
Book Promotion Sites
Authors can promote their books on book promotion sites that reach hundreds of thousands of subscribers. The assumption, of course, is that the subscribers in question open their emails, and actually follow their recommendations on books! There are a number of book promotion sites that are often very selective on the books they are willing to promote. Getting featured on these sites can be very helpful to independently published authors.
I listed this tool the last because it is the bottom line in the entire writing and publishing business. When all is said and done and authors have explored their dizzying array of options for marketing, this is the one key factor that will make or break their efforts. A poorly written book will not sell, no matter how much time, energy or money you spend on it!
Of course, there are a host of additional strategies one could pursue, but these are the ones I decided to investigate. As I spent time exploring my options, I also came to the conclusion that there is more to this journey than simply selling lots and lots of books. Critical acclaim, exposure, building your brand and good old satisfaction are some of the other targets you might want to aim at. In the weeks to come, stay tuned to my posts on which of these strategies were useful to me, and my adventures (and misadventures) along the path to self-publishing.
In the meantime, I hope you stay true to your passion and keep writing. You cannot discover the end of your journey before you get there. In writing, like everything else, you will arrive at your destination when you arrive at your destination. Don’t allow the bewildering world of book promotion to stay you from what you love best—writing!