Showing posts with label Book Publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Publishing. Show all posts

How do I get published?

In my opinion, the decision of which publishing model to choose boils down to two essential things: ‘control’ and ‘who pays’. An appropriate visual would be the graph I've drawn below. Think of any publishing model as falling between these two variables. Basically, I think of control as referring to who owns the rights to the book and with that comes publishing responsibility (couldn't resist riffing off the Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility”). The other variable, ‘who pays,’ is simple - it’s either you and/or someone else. There is a reverse side to the ‘who pays’ coin and it is ‘who benefits.’ The more you pay, the more you control issues such as royalty and profits.

What about literary agents? Where do they belong on this graph? Some workshops I've attended think of literary agents as a subset of traditional publishing and I tend to agree with this categorization. Literary agents are the gatekeepers to some publishers. If you manage to land one, great! If not, don’t sweat it, according to a literary agent I spoke to. Anecdotally, only 5% of North American books published go through literary agents. On the ‘who benefits’ side of the coin, note that literary agents usually get 15% commissions on domestic sales of your book, which will come from your pocket. However, like any expert, they will leverage their connections to ensure your book succeeds, and some may do editing. An agent might be well worth the back-end investment.

Who is interested in reading your book?

Who is my audience? As an aspiring or newly published author you might be asking yourself this, wondering how you can connect with those interested in reading your novel.  Regardless of whether you self-publish or publish traditionally, I believe this is the most important question that an author has in mind when selling a book. I know lots of authors write because they just want to tell the story they had envisioned. However, do you find that after you have written your story, you may be having a problem selling your book?

Assuming you just got the itch and after writing your story were looking to sell your book, how do you identify your audience? From what I know and have heard, writers rely on those closest to them - typically family members, friends and writers groups. That is great support, but is it enough? I’d actually suggest that family and friends are ‘supportive’ and should not be considered as an appropriate audience unless you are writing specifically for them. Writers groups are great at critiquing your books but at the end of the process do you find that a few may buy your book and others are interested in selling you their books?  I’ve had a writer describe this to me succinctly as “a cannibalistic writers-marketing-to-writers situation.” Although you could be selling books worldwide, your audience and understanding of them is limited because you start your book off with a group that does not encompass a spectrum of ages and gender. Have you limited your initial audience such that you are having a problem with discoverability?

Let me say upfront that this blog is not for writers seeking to share their story with only a small circle of friends and family. If your aim is to write for a personal group or your consumption, please don’t change a thing. This blog is for writers seeking to share ideas on how to make their stories stand out and to share their creativity with an erratic world; a world, which is looking for a quick sound bite and is saturated with books, among other forms of entertainment.

Most writers I’ve spoken to have a general idea of who they are writing for.  For those interested in traditional publishing, publishers will want to know who your audience is and their demographics through the book proposal you send to them. In other words, can the book sell and to who? For some self-published authors, I’ve heard that question come up again during the marketing stage. A bit late? Maybe. More importantly, what would prompt any author to seek to understand their audience better during the marketing stage? I’d guess that their books are not selling as expected. If this describes you as a writer, then it sounds like you have not made your work stand out for the public. Your book is buried under an avalanche of other books on Amazon or even in bookstores. At least 3 ‘successful’ authors (success defined as ability to sell books consistently) I’ve met or listened to are good at marketing. This means that they have found ways to make themselves and their book stand out from the crowd.