Unless you are writing a private diary, you ultimately want your writing to go out into the world to educate, entertain or enlighten. This is an exciting time to be writing books as there are many different ways to reach your target audience. It could take the form of an ebook on your website; you may want to try for a book deal with a publishing house or you may consider some of the self-publishing options now available. The choice is yours!
Whichever option you choose, one of the most important things is having a publishing platform. This is the sum total of your media coverage, any speaking opportunities, your own database of clients, any strategic alliances you may have formed and your website and blogging activity.
You will need a platform to convince a publisher to consider your book in the first place. A US publisher I spoke to recently, said “platform, platform, platform”, otherwise “the book dies on the shelf”.
If you are offered a book deal, you will still be expected to be proactive in terms of doing media interviews, speaking at events and marketing your book to your own clients.
If you decide to self-publish your book, then the more proactive you are, the more successful it will be. Plus retailers are more likely to order your book if you have a profile of some kind.
The self-publishing versus publishing deal debate is really about how much control you want over the process and the kind of experience you would like to have.
You may want a publishing deal for the gravitas and prestige that it confers, plus the fact that the company will have a sales team to get your book into retailers as well as media contacts and a marketing budget to promote it. However, some of the above is contingent on the commercial potential of your book and the overall experience will vary depending on the publishing company.
If you want to go this route, you’ll need to research the publishers and their lists to see where your book would fit and think about whether you want to target small independents or large conglomerate (many of whom only accept submissions through agents). You’ll need to submit a publishing proposal and sample chapters to persuade them to take it.
Self-publishing, on the other hand, puts you in the driving seat. It has come into its own and no longer suffers from the label of vanity publishing. There are various companies that offer self-publishing packages and you are likely to make more money this way, have total control over the process and own all the rights to your book.
However, you will be paying for the production and printing costs and you will have to publicise, market and sell the book into retailers. It is also essential that your book looks as good as anything you would see in Waterstone’s or Borders.
Sometimes self-publishing can even lead to a subsequent publishing deal such as with Masaru Emoto’s book ‘The Hidden Messages in Water’.
The other self-publishing option is an ebook that you can make available directly from your website. This may be one way to test the water with an idea that you have, as you can modify it according to the feedback you get. You will also need to think carefully about your website strategy and affiliate marketing.
Once your book is out in the world, it is out of your hands. This is perhaps the scariest and most exciting part. Like anything in life, you may receive mixed reactions to it. Provided you have written it from a place of authenticity and integrity though, you will find your right audience.
Writers and Artists Yearbook 2009 (A & C Black)
Writer’s Market UK 2009 (David & Charles)
Self-Publishing for Dummies by Jason R. Rich (John Wiley & Sons)