An interesting statistic I recently read is that while more women write books, more men publish them. In the 20th century we could have blamed this on the publishing business, said that it was the prejudice of a male-dominated industry. But not anymore.
According to Bowker, the exclusive U.S. agent for issuing International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs), 3,500 books were printed daily in the United States in the last year. That’s a staggering 12,460,000 books published in one year, up from around 4 million only a few years ago. That means that if women don’t step up and get into the publishing game we have no one to blame but ourselves.
So what is stopping us? I think it is the fact that so many of us are always ready to invest in others — our children, our families, charitable causes — but we feel guilty if we invest in ourselves. That means that when we do get up the courage to write and publish the book that means so much to us, we cheap out on the details, either with money, with time, or both. So, what do you need to do to finish writing your manuscript and publish and market your book — and make it a financial success?
Step One is to decide to do it today, and do it right. Don’t just make publishing your book your goal for 2014, make marketing your book your goal — getting it sold and getting it read. Writing your book is the easy part. Marketing it is the difficult step, but there are many experts who can help you along your road to publishing success.
Step Two is to develop a plan. It doesn’t have to be a costly plan, but you will have to budget some money. Make a list of the things that you are good at, the things you need help with and the things that even though you could do, you just won’t. Then decide which areas you will pay experts to help you with and which you will do yourself. Here’s are some areas to think about as you make your list:
- Editing and Proofing. You have written your manuscript, you know what you think you said. That means you cannot effectively edit and proofread it yourself. Hire an expert.
- Covers sell books. Or hurt sales. Unless you are a really talented graphic artist, hire an expert.
- Learn technology. If you can’t attach a document to an email, if don’t know how to track changes, if you are struggling with any piece of technology that you need on a regular basis, take a class and learn it.
- Social media. Use it, and if you don’t understand it, hire help. To get a great overview of social media for authors, buy Sonja Hegman’s book, Moving at the Speed of Twitter.
- A website. Make sure it looks professional, has links to a variety of ways to purchase your book, and don’t depend on your best friend’s 15-year-old to get it done for you for $50. Hire professional help.
- Get an e-book, and don’t format it yourself unless you are very patient. Hire help.
Now, for the good news. There are also dozens of ways you can promote your book that only cost time, or very little money, and that you can do yourself. There are so many ways to market a book that you really can’t do them all, or not all at once. And you don’t have to. Pick four or five things that you can spread the word about your book to friends, family, colleagues, and most importantly, strangers. Work diligently on them for three months to six months. Then evaluate. What is working? What is not? Tweak your plan. But don’t forget that you have a goal – to get your book in the hands of readers.
Now that you have written your book, write your marketing plan. Working on that plan is an investment in yourself; the best investment that you can make in 2014.
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