11 things to consider before you publish your first book
Last week, I talked about how to start writing a book, but writing it is only the tip of the iceberg. If you thought you worked hard writing the first draft I have some bad news for you. You’re, unfortunately, not done yet and I’m afraid you’ll need a lot more work to cross the finish line. While you’re taking some time/distance from your work before editing, it’s always good to think about where you want to go. Before you publish a book there are things you need to know/keep in mind, and these questions may also help you shape your book.
1. Making mistakes is fine.
Along the way, you’ll make mistakes and things won’t go your way. Again, that’s completely fine. This is how you learn and there is nothing more valuable than learning from your mistakes. You can’t take this as a failure, but a way to improve your writing and grow.
It won’t be easy, and you might even feel discouraged at times, but what will make you stand out is your ability to tackle obstacles and willingness to grow from your mistakes.
2. Editing will need to stop at some point.
Accept that your best is not “perfect” and this may be tough for many of us to accept. At the end of the day, if you wait for perfection your book will probably never get published. However, spend enough time on editing so that your book is complete and ready for publishing.
Make sure you have Beta and/or critique Group look at your work and provide valuable feedback. Listen to them and take what’s best for your story.
Kill your darlings! Only keep what truly serves the story and this is by far the most difficult for many of us.
Make sure your work is being reviewed by an audience with individuals of different age/background (if your genre allows it).
Consider getting it professionally edited because you won’t see your mistakes after a while and reading a book full of typos and grammatical errors is a turn off for all of us.
3. Know who is your audience and edit accordingly.
Depending on your genre, you need to think about who will be interested in your book.
Check that your book is adapted to Children or Young Adult if that’s what you’re into. While editing, you need to consider if the language and scenes are adapted to your audience.
This question will also help you figure out which avenue will be best for you.
4. Not everyone will love your work, and don’t feel discouraged because of this.
Even though you poured your heart and soul in this book, some people will not like it and that’s ok. You need to prepare yourself to extract the constructive feedback from the negative review and forget the rest.
You will learn from this experience and maybe you will find some valuable advice for your next book. Not all negative reviews are negative. Take it as an opportunity to look at your book from another perspective and grow from it.
5. Reviews are important.
You will need to make sure your readers review your book, and knowing your audience when writing will help with this.
It may benefit you to look at the new review rules on Amazon because this will affect who you can ask to review your book, but the more reviews you have the better. There are a few articles on this on internet, but I might write something about this as this isn’t very clear.
When you buy a product online, the first thing you do is look at the reviews. Well, your book is no different.
6. Think about what type of publishing you want.
If you write fiction or non-fiction books and have an established platform with a robust mailing list then you can probably go either way, but self-publishing may be more profitable.
If you write selling stories – meaning you have the right genre and great writing – then the traditional way of publishing may be best for you. Just ask yourself what you want out of it.
7. Traditional publishing: Make your pitch/query easy on you.
A Literary Agent I listened to recently said that to write a good pitch, you need to determine who is your main character, the antagonist, and the character’s goal. From there, you identify the main event that makes the story move forward and in which way the antagonist is preventing your main character to get there. If any of this isn’t clear to you, you may then need to spend more time on your book.
She was so right! If you’re having a hard time defining this, your reader won’t be able to do it either. Have a clear story and your pitch will be easier to write. Always end your pitch with a sentence that will create curiosity. So make sure when you edit, all of this is very clear.
8. Getting an agent and a book can take time
Keep in mind that agents are solicited all the time. Be sure that who you’re submitting your query to is representing your genre and also following the submission guidelines to a tee.
Be humble – you are not the next Stephen King. You are who you are so be proud of this.
Take rejections as a way to improve or think of it as it wasn’t meant to be at this time. You need to get a lot of letters out to increase your chances of getting representation, but if you’re faced with rejections, maybe you need to go back to your book and reassess.
Don’t rush into self-publishing after receiving a few rejections. J.K. Rowling received 12 letters of rejection before being published. Give agents a chance to read/reject before deciding if traditional publishing is what you want.
9. Promotion will eat up a lot of your time.
Unless you sign with one of the big 5, you won’t have a massive PR team behind you. You are your own PR. In a nutshell, get ready for more work – Writing the book is the easiest part.
You need to get ready to promote your book without becoming a stalker or annoying, and the best way to do this is to first build relationships with people. The best way to achieve this is to have an author platform, which brings me to my next point.
10. Start building your Author platform today.
Breaking news! No one will be outside and do a standing ovation for you when your book is completed. People will continue to live their lives so if you want a chance to have people notice your work you need to start as early as possible. You do not want to start promoting your book when the book is ready because you won’t have an audience. Growing your online presence takes time and waiting for the book to be ready to start will be a great disservice to you and your book.
Plus, it’s a wonderful way to build relationships and a great way to get great advice from people who have already been on this journey.
11. Set yourself achievable goals/expectations.
Ask yourself what would truly makes you happy. On average, a book sells 3,000 copies throughout the course of its life. The question is: What minimum copies sold will make me happy? If you have a memoir you wrote for only your family and friends, then maybe self-publishing would be more appropriate.
Your goal needs to be in line with the industry. Some may be happy selling 10,000 copies, while others will consider this number to be a failure. Be honest with yourself and know what you want to accomplish, how big is your audience, and what type of product you offer. Then, create the audience you need to achieve it BEFORE you publish.
Of course, you will always want to reach bigger numbers and you should, but you also need to be realistic with what you can offer to avoid frustration and disappointment. Finally, remember to celebrate where you’re at and always recognize yourself when you reach a milestones..
Many of these points could have an article by itself because there is so much to say, but this is something to keep in mind while writing your first book. I hope this was helpful, and if you’ve had any similar experiences please share! Your own journey can be an inspiration for someone.