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Defining success is like trying to glue water to sand. It’s impossible! That’s because it is so subjective! One’s definition of success is oftentimes based upon material things instead of emotional well-being and a clear sense of self. For the writer, this gets even tighter in regard to the former because to the publishing industry, your/their success is determined by book sales and bestseller rankings. I want to share with you five (5) “must-do’s” for success regardless of the publishing path you decide to take be it with a traditional publisher or self-publishing. I heard an agent speak about a few of these “must-do’s” and have added one or two of my own. The bottom line, for me at least, is to always keep my intentions for the work in perspective, and to remember that my writing is a reflection of me.
- Make sure your story is GREAT
- Edit, edit, edit (hire a developmental editor, line editor and proofreader)
- Create a killer book cover (yes, a beautiful, professional cover is imperative – it must match the storyline)
- Tune up your marketing skills (i.e., yes, you must engage in social media & know your platform)
- Commit to quality (see all of the above; this also includes format, design and paper quality)
For more tips on being an authentic, successful writer, read “5 Takeaways” or “The Key to a Successful Self-Publishing Career.” Check out The Pierce Agency, LLC for a FREE 20 minute author consultation.
A strong book cover is a necessity when it comes to publishing a High Quality book. As much as we may not like it, books are judged by their cover! According to ‘The Wall Street Journal’, “The average bookstore browser who picks up a book spends eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds reading the back.”
Therefore, the window of opportunity to sell the book by its cover is limited. To attract attention and make a lasting first impression, be ready to do all that you can to be at the top of your game and make that first impression one that last in the mind of the viewer.
Today with all of the amazing technology, self publishing a book has become a more attractive option. Gone are the days of someone’s dreams and visions being placed on hold or forced to wait because they are in search of a publisher to accept their book. I remember hearing so many stories of how many attempts, how many companies, and how many rejections it would take before an author could get published. I don’t know about you but I always had this image in my mind of traditional publishers sitting on a throne deciding the fate of the literary world. To me it was like a secret society that allowed a select few to enter and those that did had very little control.
Today that image has changed for me. When I set out to publish my first book, going the traditional route was not a consideration. “Why?” you might ask. As I alluded to earlier technology has revolutionized the publishing world. The internet along with the social media platforms have empowered and given a voice to so many talented authors; many of whom would never have received even a rejection letter from a traditional publisher. Traditional publishers, like so many industries because of technology, have been forced to develop new business models. Major publishers are faced with downsizing and cut backs making it even more difficult for a new kid on the block. Most of the traditional publishers today want authors who have a celebrity size following or a distribution list that equates to immediate ROI.
There are a lot of opportunities in self publishing a book. You can do it completely yourself. When you publish your work yourself you are responsible for the editing, formatting, securing distribution, communicating with the printer, and copyrighting it to name a few. The other option is selecting a publisher that will handle all the previously mentioned items, but allows you to remain in control. If you are a writer and perhaps run another business, the latter option would more than likely be the most beneficial for you. Here are top 5 things you should consider when looking for a self-publishing publisher:
1. Is it a good fit?
Believe it or not personality means everything. Your book is your baby. It’s a project and not a drive-thru menu experience. Ask yourself, “Are you comfortable with their style of communication?” I know its cliché, but communication is the key to everything. Does the publisher make you feel like you are valued and not just a number? Is there a real interest in your project? What’s your publisher’s background? Many times I have seen authors when self publishing their book forfeit the importance of literary and business experience of their publisher. Make sure when selecting a publisher they have literary experience and business acumen.
2. Make sure you maintain all your rights.
In the traditional world of publishing you generally give up a large portion, if not all of the rights to your book. This means all of the control on editing, characters, book cover design, etc, are determined by the publisher. This is primarily because you have received an advance for your book. When you are self publishing a book there are publishers who cater to authors who desire to self publish. In this case if you are not receiving an advance you should maintain all the rights to your book. All of the decisions from editing to the book cover design as mentioned before should be your final say. You should also have the option of taking your book with you if you decided to leave that publisher.
When self publishing a book it is my opinion that you as the author should receive the higher percentage of royalties. In the traditional world it can be viewed slightly different because they have a larger distribution, they have provided you with an advance, and there is more at stake. There are some self publishers who will do a 90/10, 75/25, or 60/40 split, with you receiving the lower percentage. In this case I would make sure you get the higher, because there is no upfront investment in you from the self publishing publisher.
4. What type of services do they offer?
Do they offer various editing services from rewrite to copywriting? Editing is extremely important when self publishing a book. Be mindful of a company that will publish your book that doesn’t offer or require editing. In most cases if they don’t offer editing, your publisher should have a list of editors they can refer. It is true today with technology and a fast paced society the standard grammar has become more relaxed. However, you still want a quality product that will stand the test of time. Other services you should look for are marketing that includes social media, graphic and website design.
When self publishing a book often authors assume the publisher is automatically going to promote your book. This is not the case. You as the author should have an option of acquiring those additional services.
Yes, I know everything is done at the speed of light today. We no longer have to wait on the 6 o’clock news to find out what’s happening around the world. We can email a document that used to have to travel by what we now have labeled “snail mail”. Although this has made our lives easier, when self publishing a book, we still want to value the time it takes to create a quality product. Again, self publishing should not mean you should compromise and produce an inferior product. That’s what the big guys and critics expect and/or automatically assume. I have seen companies that promote one to two week turn-rounds. That might be the case. However, please allow yourself the time for editing, correct formatting, the right cover design, to receive a proof (an actual copy of your book), etc. A reasonable amount of time should be 60 to 90 days, but this is determined by so many variables. How long it takes you to submit your work, and to sign off. You may realize that an entire chapter needs to be deleted. Allow for creativity which is often something that shouldn’t be rushed. Remember experts say today a book is the new business card. What do you want yours to say?
Deborah Hardnett is the Founder and CEO of Wealthy Sistas® Publishing House. Wealthy Sistas® Publishing House focus is to help authors self publish their books. If you are considering self publishing a book, visit www.wealthysistaspublishing.com Wealthy Sistas® Publishing House website today and get more details on how you can achieve this without the exorbitant fees and retain all your rights to your intellectual property. Deborah and her staff are strong advocates of the self-publishing industry and offer an extensive variety self publishing book services.
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