There are three ways that you can go about writing and publishing a book:
- Just blunder forth. Unfortunately, it’s extremely likely – if not certain – you’ll run into problems you don’t know how to solve. If you try to muddle through them, you’re likelier to stumble into (or create) bigger problems.
- Employ a hokey methodology. Enough so-called writers sell them nowadays. A book should be X chapters, Y amount of words, and it should have this and do that, etc. These are gimmicks. Your book – even if it belongs to a well-populated genre – is unique. While all writing shares certain precepts, your content drives the structure that should be employed.
- Learn. This is undoubtedly the best option. Once you know the landscape, you then know how to best navigate it.
In the broadest sense, this is what you need to consider for your book …
What’s your idea?
If I were to ask you to pitch it, could you? Or would you bumble around, unsure how to express it? If this is the case, then you actually don’t know what your idea is.
Your idea is your lighthouse: it keeps you to a course.
Make sure you know what you’re going to be writing about.
There are two types of writers:
- Planners: planners map out every single detail of their book before they sit down to write.
- Pantsers (known as such, because they fly by the seat of their pants): they make it up as they go along.
For something as big and meaningful as a book, though, I doubt there is a genuine pantser. Everybody must do some planning, even if it’s just to think about it in their heads. This acts as the framework.
If you do just make it up as you go along with little-to-no thought, you’re likely to become repetitive, overwrite, and lose focus.
It takes endurance to write a book. That’s because it’s an incredible commitment.
There are times you’ll doubt the quality of your writing, that you’ll fall out of love with your content, that it will all seem like a stupid idea, that others will make you doubt yourself, etc.
Compound that with issues such as time management, responsibilities, work, family, etc. Any of these can be discouraging. Next thing you know, you haven’t touched your book in months.
But you promise yourself you’ll get back to it.
The biggest reason people stop writing, however, is they hit an obstacle, and they just don’t know how to navigate it.
Once your manuscript is finished, what do you do with it?
Surprisingly, a lot of new writers don’t know. Some even believe that their book will simply be discovered, as if by magic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
The publishing landscape is always evolving. It incorporates:
- Traditional publishing
- Partnership Publishing
There are also subsets within each group.
Each comes with it’s advantages and disadvantages.
The problem arises that one of those options can involve predators who prey on the inexperienced, and will extort money from them by making promises that are impossible to guarantee, e.g. that your book will be a bestseller.
Nobody – nobody – can guarantee that. If there was a formula, the big, multi-million-dollar publishers would be employing it.
You really need to know what avenue is best suited for you.
Another misnomer is that once the book is published, people will buy it.
Why? How will readers know that your book is out there? Don’t forget, this is a competitive industry. Walk into a bookstore. How many books does it contain? Thousands? And more are being released daily. So why will people flock en masse to your book?
This is your responsibility. A traditional publisher might have a marketing plan that runs over a limited time – e.g. the first month after the book’s release – but they can only do so much. Also, they always have another author coming through.
More and more, it’s the author’s responsibility to create that awareness for themselves (as an author), and their book.
There’s a popular misconception that writing a book is easy, and that selling it is a given.
It’s hard work.
As we mentioned from the beginning, you can blunder forward and hope you can work it all out – and that nobody takes advantage of you in the process – or you can find a gimmick you think will work for you.
The other option is to learn.
It’s the foundation of our lives: you learn a skill so you can use it to move forward.
Writing, publishing, and marketing your book is no different.
Learn what you can.
Check out our Book Camp workshop on Saturday, 22nd February, 9.00am – 5.00pm.