Most writers and authors I know and/or work with are so much more. They are mothers and fathers, caregivers, homemakers, cooks and bread winners. They work day (or night) jobs as accountants, factory workers, cashiers, salespeople, business owners and top executives. They all struggle with finding the balance between their passion, their families and meeting their mortgage. Life is complicated enough without trying to write, but every one of them is driven, obsessed with their plots and characters, striving for perfection with the written word and usually dog tired. They’re courageous and talented and among the most creative and busy people I know.
Now, add negotiating the shifting paradigm of the publishing industry and what do you get? A borderline crazy person. Some writers are new and baffled by the currently vacillating publishing maze. Some authors are embedded with the original publishing business profile and having a difficult time accepting the reality of this new landscape.
I’m proposing that change is deceivingly simple, it’s just our mindset that makes it appear complicated. Don’t panic.
Let’s start with that quaking landscape. Rising up from all this upheaval is more promise and potential than a writer ever had. There are more options and more variations available today than ever before in publishing. All should be looked at, dissected and considered for making intelligent choices. Traditional publishing, sprouting indie publishers, POD, e-publishing, market shifts in reader genre preferences, purchasing outlets and how the reader likes to read a book. (Kendel? Hardcopy? Online?). Yes, it seems like the zoo has gotten overpopulated, but really … the reader base has expanded vastly and that’s a good thing. Honest.
No matter how you publish, you must market. I’ve covered this topic before and won’t go through it again. The bottom line is … you must market. All authors are terrified of this prospect but in truth, I have never met a writer who isn’t so completely sure of their story, that in a few excited words they can’t sell it. You CAN speak in front of a group. You CAN talk to the media. You CAN do this. All an author needs to do is believe it and make the time for it. Time was carved from a hectic, full life to write the book; there’s no logic in deserting your baby as it’s about to take flight.
Now you need to make plans. Don’t shy away from this, it’s no different than plotting your novel. All you’re doing now is plotting your success. You need a business plan, a marketing plan, a press campaign plan, a speaking engagement/event/book signing plan and a plan for your next book. Close your eyes and imagine the success you want, then get it down on paper.
It’s time to open your mind and expand it. Spark up those creative juices, get your brain crackling to uncover all those unique, untapped markets for your book. In truth, you should have been doing this since you began writing the book and you probably didn’t realize that you were. The trick is to jot those ideas down as they come. Discount nothing. Save them all for a brainstorming session that breaks all the acceptable molds for the sale of your particular book. Just be fearless. The massive shift in the industry has opened neat little cracks and anything is possible. Never concern yourself with the fact that something hasn’t been tried or that you never saw a book sold in that particular venue before. If it fits, would be powerful, and you’re excited enough about the possibility, you can succeed. Call in all your friends and associates who write and don’t write, share your ideas and get their ideas. Who knows, you may just be the author who cracks a bookselling venue no one ever thought to approach before.
Decide how you want to deal with professionals. Of course, you may have a literary agent and you will have a publisher to deal with. Those are based on your informed choice and you deal with them as you would your doctor or lawyer. Respect them, stand your ground and smile. But there are other professionals, all clamoring for your attention, your project, your money and a coveted place on your coattail should you make it big.
There are knowledgeable people everywhere and they’re knocking on your door. You’re no longer a lone, private writer taping away at your keyboard. Now, you’re visible. Early on you may have come across an Author’s Liaison, a newly created professional geared toward helping writers find self or join publication for their novel. If you’re not super duper computer savvy, you may be either approached by or on the prowl for a website designer. Later, when your book is a reality, you’ll meet local media people, bookstore owners and a slew of other authors (if you’ve been diligent at social marketing). All these people are brimming with great advice and seriously want to help you … some for a cost. You’ll consider hiring an assistant to help organize all the wonderful book events and speaking engagements you see in your future. Then you’ll notice that all these eclectic, scattered, dismembered efforts require someone to pull them all together and keep them targeted and you may consider hiring a publicist.
Here is a vital piece of advice regarding any and all of these professionals: If they don’t know when to hold your hand and say “Breathe”, then they’re not worth their salt, much less their fee.
Everyone clambering to be part of your future success is not always there to support you, the author. Everyone you come across who loves your book and knows someone who knows someone related to Jeffrey Katzenberg or Opra, is not necessarily your ticket to the big time. They may be, but keep your head on straight and don’t forget to … Breathe.
Breathe deep and do it often, with intent and determination to remain centered and think clearly. This is where all those plans you made earlier come into play. They target the goals and help you keep your eye on the prize. With the right attitude you can attract the right professionals to get where you want to go. The best professionals understand that there are times an author needs to be reminded to step back, think, and enjoy the ride.
Be happy and remember to …