4 Ways NOT to Be A "Lost Author"
Last week I attended Book Expo America, the largest trade show for books in the U.S. I was there because of my work as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. Thousands of booksellers, media, librarians and others from the publishing industry were showing their latest and forthcoming books. It was exciting to see bestselling authors and enthusiastic readers of books.
This massive event can be overwhelming—especially to the new author. Several times during the week, I met authors who were “lost.” Now to be honest some of them didn't know they were lost. From my interaction with them, I knew they were in this category.
In different places of this trade show, there are small booth exhibitors. One booth was attracting people with fresh cookies. I stopped but didn't eat a cookie. I listened to the author. This former journalist had written a novel. I recognized the book was self-published from a company where I've met authors who have spent $20,000 with them and the books are only online and not inside any brick and mortar bookstore. I asked if she fell into this category in terms of her personal investment. To my relief, she had not. Wisely this author had spent most of her budget on editing her book.
As I listened to her pitch about the book, I learned she had written a civil war historical novel based on her part of the South. The cover was a “different” looking drawing (not your typical eye-catching book cover). I could hear the passion in this author's voice. It was not only a historical novel but a young adult time travel fantasy. See the challenge for booksellers and librarians to process this string of categories? It doesn't neatly fall into a single place in the bookstore or library. While I admired her passion and commitment to market her book, I knew this author was lost in the market and probably had no idea why her book wasn't getting attention and readers.
A little later, I met another author. This former pro-athlete who gave me a copy of his book. I took a quick look and noticed it was also self-published. The book was small and an odd size. When I opened it, the typeface was not what you find in books and had full color photos. This author had passion and had invested in publishing his book—yet I knew he was also lost and unsure how to find readers and sell books.
While self-publishing is exploding with almost 5,000 new books entering the market every day, my personal bent is to get the broadest exposure for my writing and books. In other words, I want my books to be available online but also in brick and mortar bookstores. I want to give you four ways not to be a “lost author.”
1. Study the publishing world and get to a writers' conference, take classes and meet experienced professionals. I'm speaking at several events so check them out and I'd love to meet you at one of these conferences.
2. Write a good book. Your book needs a good foundation so make sure you have a target audience in mind and are writing for that audience. Get an outside editor or join a critique group to get feedback on your book before publishing it.
3. Create a book which fits the market. The details matter in publishing. Even if you are going to self-publish, make sure you have an attractive cover and interior. Show the cover to the target market and get their honest feedback. Does your book look like books from major publishers? Does it have a little logo on the bottom of the book spine? If not, change it so it does. You don't want people to wonder about such details but to simply accept your book as a solid product.
4. Take your own responsibility to market and tell people about books. Get others to give honest reviews for your book. Tell the media about your book and get booked on radio programs and other venues.
Even if you do everything “right” with a solid publisher or have a literary agent, not every book sells or some books still have dismal sells or they take several years to take off. There is no set formula for a book to sell but there are good practices in publishing.
Are You A “Lost Author?” Here's Four Ways NOT to Be “Lost” (ClickToTweet)