Writing a book is both an author’s labor of love and a long journey. The adventure begins with your idea for a book and continues even after you’ve written the initial manuscript – as you work through the development, editing, and design processes and into the publicity phase of the journey.
I’ve already addressed three of the top-ten items an author needs to consider to get published. These were:
- Passion: passion for the topic of your book ‒ not just for the idea of writing a book ‒ and communicating that passion to your reader.
- Be a Story Teller – People remember stories and relate them to friends, family, and co-workers all of whom repeat this, creating powerful word-of-mouth advertising (even endorsement) for your book.
- Be Reader-Conscious – Knowing your audience and, as you write every sentence, thinking about – even imagining – their reactions.
Here are three more things the author should consider:
1. Determine the Market Need – A book that sells is a book that fulfills a need in the lives of its readers. Now that you know what you want to write about, you need to determine if there is a market out there for it. Honestly, this is where many authors fail – right here – at the beginning of the process. Maybe you already know there is a market because you are an up and coming speaker, business leader, or pastor who already both has a growing audience and knows their needs. On the other hand, perhaps, your book idea is obscure, it may have only limited interest or appeal. Either way, you must determine your market.
How? Just start with Google and Social Media. How many searches do you find on your specific subject? How many pages on Facebook or Twitter? What kind of fan base is there and how many followers? (Be careful to not be too broad in your idea-search parameters – stick to the precise topic of your book.) Finally, how many other books have similar subject matter? Buy the top three and read them. This will help you better define your uniqueness, or brand. Ask yourself,
- “What does my market need from me and my book?”
- “What will change my reader’s behavior?” … or …
- “What pain point am I hitting in my book that captures the reader’s attention?”
2. Get Your Idea on Paper – This means coming up with an outline for your book’s manuscript, in some manner, to collect your thoughts on its topic. It could mean writing it out longhand, typing it on your computer, or even verbalizing it into a recorder. No matter which way you work best, the important point is to get it recorded in some medium in some format. I like to encourage authors to employ the ‘Brain Dump’ method of getting things on paper – simply getting your thoughts down in a sort of ‘brainstorm,’ ‘mind-map,’ or ‘stream of consciousness’ fashion.
During this process, don’t worry about formatting, punctuation, spelling, complete sentences, grammar, or other such English-Teacher niceties. Merely get your thoughts down and resist the temptation to edit them. This will come later as your development editor helps you organize your material into a more logical form. As you go through the Brain Dump process try to stay on topic and imagine a chapter as you write. You can also associate subjects, thoughts, or questions into sections, at least in your thought process, but don’t worry about organizing them at this point. As I said, that comes later.
3. It Takes a Team – Writing a book, like a lot of other tasks in life, is a team effort. After completing the initial manuscript, you will work with multiple editors, a cold-reader, and many others to get your book to the point that it is ready to be published. This process is not for the thin-skinned who don’t want anyone altering their work. A good author realizes that it takes a whole bunch of people looking at a manuscript to get a marketable book out there to the public.
The Bottom Line: Do your research, figure out your market, and get your thoughts expresses. Then be prepared to have your manuscript dissected, rewritten, and tightened up to make it easier to read and more marketable to its audience.
Next time, we’ll look at several more of the Ten Things You Should Know to Get Published.
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