Over the past three decades of working with traditional and independent publishers, we have gained some powerful insights into, essentially, how successful authors approach publishing their books.
If there could be one way of describing the approach which those authors who experience the most success take, it would be ‘starting at the centre’. What does this mean?
Your book is at the centre of a network of interlinking things; digital selling platforms, mailing lists, social media, websites, forums etc. All of these are outside your book, and will need to be utilised for exposure, marketing, sales and delivery. But creating a book involves many processes of its own, from writing, through proof-reading to design and eBook development. These ‘book-centric’ tasks should be first on an author’s to-do list and completed to the highest possible standard.
To begin with one’s books may seem obvious, but too often authors release titles into the market without taking good care of proofreading, having a professional cover or print design created, often to undertake these essentials at a later date for varying reasons. This is the wrong way round and exposes even potentially great books to negative criticism which can not only irreversibly damage sales, but in the process destroy the confidence of a good author.
Naturally, commercial publishing houses begin by creating a solid, professional book. The same should be true for self-publishers. Your potential readership is used to books produced in this way. You will never find a big-name publisher releasing a book with poor design and proofreading in the hope that sales will pick up. It just doesn’t work in the market; readers don’t buy unfinished books.
“I have to say it was perfect”Gregory Sanderson, author of The Benefactors
Authors can spend huge amounts of time growing their social media presence, building mailing lists, engaging in PR, events and going to launch before perfecting their product. Once the book is released, the visibility can be very high but the reception is lukewarm or worse. This is an example of working from the outside in, and should be avoided.
Your books should not be exposed to market feedback until they are market ready. Once your book is in as good shape as it can be; designed, proof-read and looking great, you can then begin to introduce it to your potential super-fans and the huge outer network which is waiting to consume it. Don’t waste valuable time networking if it’s stopping you from creating something that the network will want to buy.
At the centre of your self-publishing career rest your books. The quality of these will represent you as an author thousands of times online and so it’s vital to make sure that each connection your books make with these outer networks is as strong as it can be. This is what successful authors understand.