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3 Truths About Book Publishing I Thought You Already Knew

Since I am immersed in the publishing world every day of the week (I know it can be sad.  I do take some time off to do other things from time to time.) – I sometime forget you may not know some basic truths about book publishing.  Knowing these basic truths can make the difference between your book being a success and it being a time-consuming failure.

“I wish I Knew That Sooner!”

Every time someone is shocked by some of these basic truths I feel a bit guilty.  My immersion in the industry should equip me to communicate the basics first – and get to the more subtle nuance later.

Instead, I typically try to write about the challenges my latest author client faced.  By focusing on their errant perceptions about their particular situation, I will often skip over the things every single person reading this needs to know.

Your Book Will Probably be Self-Published

More than likely you have heard this said before.  However, there is a special type of narcissism involved in being a first-time published author.  You most likely think getting a literary agent and a traditional publishing contract will be different.  Most people think in this way.  Some authors will learn of all the people who tried and failed to be picked up.

The truth is fewer and fewer books are published traditionally.  The likelihood of getting a publishing deal with an advance payment is pretty much a pipe dream – even for the celebrities.  Publishing costs are always a risk to someone.  Why would a complete stranger, whose profits are being squeezed into oblivion, spend their money on an unproven author?

Traditional Publishing Contracts Require You to Market

One of the reasons why people want to go the traditional publishing route is they believe the big publisher is experienced in marketing books and will promote it for the author.  If you do get the opportunity to publish traditionally, it puts even more pressure on you to do more marketing.  In fact, your willingness to propose the book – WITH an aggressive marketing plan – increases your chances of being selected.

Managing expectations is an essential part of being successful as an author.  When you self-publish, you have a whole team to support you.  If you are selective in your team, someone will help you manage your own expectations.  (You can rest assured I will help you know all the pitfalls and realities.)  When you are working with a larger organization for publishing, perhaps the agent should tell you.  But they may think the expectations should be shared by the editor or in-house publicist.  Trust me, whichever type of publishing you choose, you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time (and some money) marketing your book.

Nobody Can Tell It’s Self-Published if It’s High Quality

The huge number of books being published weekly has diluted the reputation of a book author.  Many people think any self-published book is obvious to the reader.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some of the most professionally developed and marketed books are self-published.

The difference is in the quality.  Every single aspect of the book needs to be done exceptionally well.  The reason for being extremely picky about the quality is not about being self-published.  It’s about accomplishing your goals as an author.  If you want to be known as an expert in your field, everything counts.  From the way your manuscript is written, to the cover art and interior design, you are being judged by your readers.  If it looks like you did it yourself, they know it’s self-published.

I was in real estate for decades.  Many do-it-yourself homeowners took on tasks which should have been reserved for professionals.  What the homeowner didn’t realize is this: You would never hire a contractor to lay tile in your kitchen who has never done it before.  Why oh why would you lay the tile yourself if you don’t know how to do it.  If you must do it yourself, find a friend who is willing to swap labor for their home improvements and do their house first.  That way, when your buddy comes to help you lay tile in your home, it is your second time,  not your first.

The same is true for your book.  Do Not Compromise on Quality to save money.  Just like I recognized a homeowners first try to lay tile (and the buyers discounted the value of the home because of it), people will discount the value of your message if you scrimp on the quality of your book.