A REALITY Check That Will Hopefully Influence Your Decision
I work with Book Authors every day … helping them promote their books.
The reality is, many of them should never have written or self-published!
Here’s what happens and WHY many people write and self-publish:
1. They believed the HYPE that you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars in your first year.
The reality is that most self-published authors don’t even make $100 with their first book. That’s a LONG way from $100,000!
2. They believe all you have to do is write the book and upload it and magically the book will sell.
Get real … that won’t happen in your wildest dreams.
3. They believe that people actually want to read a bunch of poorly conceived information scrapped off the Internet by dozens of other “instant millionaire wanna-be” writers.
4. They believe that you can write a GOOD book that will sell and sell and sell … in a DAY!
Hmmmm, how much do YOU want to buy a book that someone wrote in a day? It is probably well thought out, with loads of really great information … RIGHT?
5. They believe that all they have to do is write 100 — one-day books and they will rapidly rake in the cash … after all if they only sold $100 x $100 books, they’d making $10,000 a month! WOW.
The “theoretical” math is what will get you every time!
IF you want MORE reasons on Why You Shouldn’t Self-publish a book, be SURE to read this
Sheesh … I could have written a whole BOOK on the topic and made a boat load of money!
Now that you have a pretty good idea why you shouldn’t self-publish a book, the BIG question is
When and WHY Should You WRITE, and then Self-Publish?
I’m breaking this out into Fiction and Non-Fiction books … though there is some overlap (so read both), there ARE some differences.
What is YOUR reason or motivation for writing a novella or novel?
- You have a BURNING NEED to let out a story that is inside you.
- You have a BURNING NEED to BE an Author.
- You want fame, a following, respect. For some reason, when you say you’ve written books, people treat you differently.
It is NOT a sin to want to be famous. Just know and understand your intrinsic motivation … there may be easier ways to get there!
- You are a voracious reader and now you want to see if you can do it.
- Your short stories or articles have been published and NOW you want to bump up, work on your writing skills and write a BOOK!
You have had your short stories published by “others” — magazines, specialty fiction blogs, etc. In essence … someone else had decided your work is good enough to publish — maybe they even paid you.
You have written articles for article networks such as Medium AND received great comments and claps for your work. In other words you have … built an audience and have gained confidence in your ability to write, and have hopefully learned to write better.
Now you want to BUILD on those skills.
- You have invested time and money in reading, and in learning how to write.
Lee Child, with his best selling Jack Reacher series is an example. He was a television producer, who saw the writing on the wall far in advance. He knew the series he worked on would eventually end. He was also a voracious detective-mystery reader. He knew his next step would be “Book Author” and set out to figure out what best selling series authors did. He spent years studying, and analyzing. When at the age of 40 he was fired from his job, he purposefully BUILT a best selling character, and a success formula of his own.
We’re not talking a one-week “you’re a writer” course. He was already a writer (television) and he spent 10+ years figuring out how to write a best selling series. He went through a learning curve first, knew he still wanted it and then went for it.
- You have a burning desire AND are willing to learn as you go … knowing it will take time and effort.
Many authors I follow started out as competent writers and just grew better and better as they continued to write. Best seller Nora Roberts with over 200 books under her belt is one of those. About a year ago I found one of her first books in a second hand book store. I would NOT have become a fan if I had read that book first!
All of those are good reasons for actually WRITING a novel. Go for it if you are determined.
Almost all of the reasons for writing fiction apply to would-be non-fiction writers. Here are a few MORE reasons:
- You already have an audience (blog, list, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. ) Your audience NEEDs to solve a problem. YOU have the solution.
Dr. Jason Fung is an example of this. He has helped thousand of diabetics, reduce their need for drugs and lose massive amounts of weight. He had a HUGE following on his own website and in several forums. His “fans,” basically DEMANDED more. His three books are now being translated into multiple languages. https://amzn.to/2T24fv7
- You are an EXPERT, and have a body of knowledge, and years of experience inside you. You have a BURNING NEED, OR a reason to share.
Dan Kennedy, is a world class copywriter. He made hundreds of thousands from writing the marketing material for direct marketing sales campaigns. He ended up writing over a dozen books on copy-writing, direct-marketing, sales and more. See his Bio https://www.entrepreneur.com/author/dan-s-kennedy
- You have a real-life story that could help other people in some way. You have a BURNING NEED to share.
- You own a business — Whether you are a solo entrepreneur, or have a business of any size. Having a book helps build your credibility, give you author status, sets you apart from your competitors, and brings in more business. In other words a book is PART of your already established marketing strategy.
NOTE: I consider the last reason one of the BEST reasons to self-publish a book. The “owner,” doesn’t even have to write the book!
IF any of those are the reasons you want to WRITE a book, just go for it.
You might want to write, you may actually finish writing a book … but the next step is to PUBLISH your book, and this is where a …
… will make the difference between success and failure.
Once your book is written, choose ONE of the following three paths:
1. Put your completed book on a back burner (later, tomorrow, manyana) or forget about it … permanently.
You have actually accomplished something big … so allow yourself to FEEL that accomplishment
- You’ve followed through on your commitment
- You’ve actually FINISHED
- That BURNING need is no longer driving you crazy
- You are a realist and you KNOW the book is just not good enough (what would Simon Cowell say) and you are not willing to go through another learning curve to make it better.
- You have accomplished a finished book, and decide that you prefer the process of writing blog posts, articles and short stories. You’re happy to have learned that little fact about yourself and just let the book thing go.
2. Find a traditional publisher to publish your book. For example, Harper Collins publishes both fiction and non-fiction books. Self-Counsel Press only publishes non-fiction books.
Most of the bigger publishers won’t deal with individuals, you have to get a publishers agent first. This takes a huge amount of time and effort. It may take years … during which time you are happily writing more books.
Getting a traditional publisher is highly encouraging. It means many people (a committee) have read your book and believe it will SELL. They are willing to invest their money in you. Unfortunately they could be wrong. Your book may not sell AND they will tie up “publishing rights” for years, making it impossible for YOU to self-publish.
Another thing to keep in mind is that in today’s market, traditional publishers expect YOU to already have an Author Platform in place … a website, a list, a social media following. Some of them may love your book but won’t publish unless you actively participate in the selling process.
Having a book published by a traditional publisher gives you a certain kind of STATUS, which might be important to your version of “author.”
Traditional publishing CAN be, but is not guaranteed to be … a road to success.
3. Self-Publish. There is a reason why authors only get 5% — 10% royalties. The publisher theoretically does all the marketing. They also edit, proof, PRINT and DISTRIBUTE yo ur books, and maintain an on-line presence. They may (depends on your contract) represent you in foreign language publishing rights and in TV or Film deals.
As I wrote about in “You Should NOT Publish A Book,” Your book is 10% of the self-publishing business … marketing and sales is the 90% that counts.
If you are not prepared to undertake the 90% — DON’T SELF-PUBLISH.
MY Fiction Writing Venture
I’ve been a freelance writer for over 40 years. NON-FICTION. I read incessantly … over 200 books a year divided some what evenly between fiction and non-fiction. In fiction, I read almost everything except for horror (scares the hell out of me) or erotica (boring as hell).
So I’ve had this background dream of writing either a romance series or a mystery series for years … decades! At one point, maybe 20 years ago I fully outlined a mystery series. LOL … I still have the outline and still think about it.
So a while back I started thinking about a romance series again. I was seriously PISSED OFF at myself that this kept on niggling at me.
NO I did NOT have a burning desire … just this incessant niggling.
So one day I just decided to do it. I issued a 100 day challenge to my Blog readers and DID IT.
In then end I wrote three novels … the first got to a second draft stage and the next two were first drafts.
I took an HONEST look at them. They were actually semi-good. Actually better than a lot of the stuff I see on Kindle.
They were NOT good enough for me.
I decided I wouldn’t publish either under my own name or a pseudonym. I know at some point (the niggling) I will pick them up again and MAKE THEM BETTER. I will take the time and just do it.
Who knows when the niggling will once again propel me into action. In the mean time I am happy and content to write the stuff I am good at … the stuff I am paid for and the stuff I AM willing to publish.
At the SAME time … I continue to build some of the elements of my author platform … so when I am ready, it will help me sell the books I publish.
In a nutshell:
- IF you have a BURNING DESIRE or COMPELLING REASON to write a book … write it!
- Start building your author platform the second you hit the GO button.
- Once you complete the book, look at the three paths and decide which one you will take.
- If you decide to shelve your book … do a dance of happiness and feel the satisfaction of COMPLETING something you needed to do.
- If you decide on the traditional publisher route, take the steps to get an agent. Keep writing (agents and publishers love trilogies, or series.)
- If you decide on the self-publishing route. Block out big chunks of time to build your marketing machine and to develop a marketing plan. At the same time … maintain a daily writing discipline.
Have you read? If you are considering writing a book and self-publishing, read the following article PLEASE … it is important.