You’ve decided to write a book and you are not certain where to start and what to do. The best advice is to start at the beginning, which means identifying a few key facts.
What key facts?
The initial key fact or ingredient to writing is determining your level of talent. Assess your literary arsenal. Have you written in the past? Have you gotten positive feedback from your writs? Is there a list of publications or products where your writing is exposed or shared or presented? If so, assimilate that list to create your byline and short and long biography.
What is a byline, short and long biography?
The byline is a short snippet that provides a synopsis of your current literary or nonfiction status. Ms. Clandestyne Convertus is working on her title, “Random Acts of Tradecraft” releasing in 2017. The short biography is for marketing briefs up to 50 words generally and the long biography is for your WordPress Blog, Website and perhaps your One Sheet. More thought should go into the byline, short and long biography than normally does. This is your initial branding tool and it should demonstrate what you’ll like readers and book buyers to know about you today, tomorrow and into the distant future.
Some authors create quip biographies suggesting a puzzle, or a vague statement. These are inadvisable. They read: novice. You don’t want to say, for instance, “An enigma” with no further clarification. It does not appease a reader. The byline, short and long biography should “clarify” why a reader should a) buy and b) read your book(s).
Determine what you know to write about:
We’ve all heard it, write what you know. Stephen King is a prime example of this steadfast rule. His titles all share elements of the North Atlantic – it is what he knows. Each story is inherently different – they are all macabre, Gothic horror or just plain scary horror but they all share a glimpse into North Atlantic U.S.A. lifestyle and culture. And, this element sews a thread of congruence and authenticity readers love. While each story is altogether unique, readers know they are getting realism in the sub-plots about a culture and its origin in some way, shape or form.
If you have always written business documentation and never anything creative and intend to write a novel, then start with short stories and novellas. Enter a few contests for short fiction. Get a handle on your art. Join a writer’s group, share some initial writs, gain feedback. Hone your craft. Conversely, if you’ve never written nonfiction, take time to hone the skill prior to writing a memoir or business title.
Then when you pick a story-line or nonfiction project – plan it out – especially the first book. Outlining is often suggested to be a plague but it is a great tool and like scheduling it should adapt to your style.
Create a writing schedule:
All the best authors can tell you their writing schedule. It may be tight and structured or loose, and shooting from the hip but they have a schedule and they know it. Know your schedule.
Don’t announce you are writing a book until you are one-half done:
Many would be authors share too much too soon. Keep your secret. Write the book first if you can. And, don’t count on your immediate circle of family and friends to be a) honest about it, b) supportive, c) the source of all things positive. Close circles go one of two ways: either they tell you “it is great, great, great” or they tell you “you cain’t, cain’t, cain’t.” Don’t put your literary or nonfiction success off on them. Families and close friends see the you at age(s) 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 16, etc. They see the you who didn’t pay a bill once or tripped the light fantastic or just went through a divorce or changed religions or whatever. They don’t see an author generally unless you come from a literary family. So . . . learn to be an author in your own right.
Additionally, you never see mainstream authors announce they are going to write a book and then begin divulging it on the Internet piece by piece. They don’t ask readers to choose a cover or to review a chapter unless they are part of their editorial team. Don’t make foolish mistakes like that. Sometimes, a title is a strategy release. It should be most times. Perhaps a new major publication is coming out on a date your publisher knows of and no one else does yet . . . your title might bun up with it. Or Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) may be a tool in your Writing Arsenal that is thwarted by sharing bits and pieces. A good ARC is best when the individual reviewing the ARC feels privileged to review your title; if it has been shared chapter by chapter the ARC is really no longer of value.
Self-Publish or go with a Publisher?
The big question today is to Self-Publish or go with a Publisher. There are good reasons for either trajectory. Do you have a family title, Book of Remembrance, Personal Essay, How-To Guide to a product you “own or manage”? If so, Self-Publishing makes sense. If you want to become a burgeoning best-seller, a Publisher may be in your best interests. Also, if you intend to Self-Publish first and then find a Publisher; it is best to Self-Publish a title you do not intend to re-edition with a Publisher. Instead, Self-Publish a stand-alone title. It isn’t a bad idea to get a lay of the land. Learn the ropes and use a pseudonym as well. Stephen King published for years under a pseudonym for good reason.
Once you have determined to Self-Publish or go with a Publisher, create a Marketing Plan:
Publishers love authors who arrive with a market strategy and thousands of books already in demand. Publishers do not necessarily aid authors with a promotions platform. Instead, Publishers produce the title and align it to the marketplace with all required identifiers and background information in place to aid the author toward literary or nonfiction success. A Publisher does not guarantee success. They do get authors into otherwise inaccessible doors of potential but as the marketplace is altering – Publishers role is an ever-changing scenario.
The fact remains, a Publisher’s logo legitimizes a title. And, more so that inner circle of family and friends, are usually more convinced by a Publisher approved book than not.
Either way – own the business of your book. Don’t believe you write a book, get a Publisher and then voila’ become a millionaire. It just doesn’t work that way. Success with your title takes work. Daily work on the part of the author and a marketing plan or strategy results in gains and it should involve your Publisher but not be 100% reliant on them.
Also, Publishers too vary in size, shape and capability. If you find a Small Press Publisher or Indie Publisher who accepts your title – understand they are what they are. They are a step beyond Self-Publishing but they are not Random House or Hachette. Many debut authors make the mistake of anticipating Random House from Sally’s Publishing. They are not one in the same. It is unfair to expect more than what Sally’s Publishing can accommodate.
You can always make a publishing move after your initial Small Press Publisher but if you do remember to include any required monikers from the first publishing house if you re-edition any titles. Commonly, you include the former publisher as the prior edition publisher in front matter. Also, don’t be afraid to “ask” or “let your publisher know” you want to make a change. Ask for a referral letter and let them even coordinate your move. That is the professional manner for transitioning publishing houses and sometimes there is a sale price for the new Publisher contingent upon your book’s sales history. You may be surprised to learn the Publisher thinks a move is a good idea too when the time is appropriate. However, it is a general rule of thumb to stay with the Publisher for more than one year post-release of your title so they have an opportunity to earn back their investment and an opportunity to work your title. Usually this is approximately three to five years.
Remain a professional!
Lastly, whether you Self-Publish or have a Publisher – make certain you remain professional. Keep all the relationships happy and healthy. You’ll probably want to call on them again in your future. Many novice authors feel they have to insult their former Publisher in making a move. This is demonstrative of a Novice or Amateur. Seasoned authors just make business moves with the business of their book and do not make change a personal vendetta – you shouldn’t either.
There are many additional factors to consider in your key decision-making for an initial book project. We’ll talk about more of them in the future so subscribe and visit often.
Book Marketing in a Post-Modern World, by D. L. Quesinberry
The National Writing Examiner (NWE) accepts ideas, comments, story suggestions, interviews, etc. Write today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quote: “From your first word to your last word, remaining aware of your author brand is integral to the creative process.” ~Ms. D. L. Quesinberry, Autho; Poet; Entrepreneur; Empowerment Coach, Speaker, and Trainer.