Thursday, January 07, 2016

How to Improve the Experience of Publishing

Ups and Downs: Publishing has changed enormously in the past couple of decades, but the author's experience remains the same in many ways. These stages are typical:
  • Euphoria: Before self-publishing came around, authors struggled to "get published" and then commonly experienced something like ecstasy when they got the word that a publisher wanted their work. Today, authors experience something similarthough to a lesser degreewhen they learn that self-publishing is a viable option.
  • Struggle: The mechanics of publishingediting, design, page production, printingwere and are hard work. The traditionally published author and the self-published author face the same frustrations. However, this feeling is mixed with a growing excitement as a rough manuscript acquires some polish and the edited manuscript begins to look like a book. Ultimately, the creative process is invigorating, more real because of the struggle. 
  • Euphoria II: When authors receive their first printed books, they experience the joy and satisfaction a mother feels when she holds her new baby in her arms. It doesn't matter whether the authors are traditionally published or self-published. They are filled with the same sense of hope. 
  • Struggle II: Once the book is printed, authors of both varieties wait for the sales to roll in. When those sales don't materialize, at least to the degree the authors expected or hoped for, they begin to feel disappointment. Traditionally published authors have the luxury of blaming their publishers for "not doing any marketing," which they invariably do. And it doesn't seem to matter what the publisher did or didn't do. Self-published authors have only themselves to blame, and it is all the more painful.
The above seems to be a common, almost universal series of experiences. At the same time, parts of itespecially the devastating disappointment of "Struggle II"—can be improved. To have a better experience, I suggest the following:
  • Begin at the End: Smart book development begins at the endwith marketing. Who are your core readers? What do you have to give them? How are you going to change their lives?
  • Focus on Your Work: Book publishing is fun, at least I think so, and I know my customers enjoy the process. However, there is a tendency to think that the book is the baby. It's not. The book is just a way of delivering the baby, which is to say "your work." True, your book is a "work," but ideally it should support your larger work. It is one way of reaching and teaching your customers. It is not the only way. Other ways are presentations, blogs, conversations, youTube, and anything that gets your message across. If you find yourself saying "buy my book" instead of "how can I help you?" you're doing it wrong.The good news is that focusing on your work is what you need to do to sell books.
  • End at the Beginning: When you do your marketing, give it the same attention you gave your book when you were writing, editing, designing, and producing it. When you do your marketing, bring with you the excitement you felt when you were creating your book. Enjoy the process. It's all about building relationships with your customers.—The Publishing Pro

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