6 October 2019

Top Ten Mistakes Author Make: #2

(This series is adapted from and originally published in the book Lead Me to Success in Publishing: 101 Ways by Melissa Wilson and Jon Malysiak [Networlding Publishing, 2012] currently available on Amazon)

Mistake #2: Assume That Because an Experience is Meaningful to You, It is Going to Be Meaningful to Everyone…Because It Won’t Be

I realize this sounds horribly negative and pessimistic and, perhaps more so, downright cynical. It is and it isn’t. One of the dirtiest words in publishing is “Memoir.” When I was agenting, I’d say that the majority of proposals that appeared in my inbox were for memoirs or autobiographies that chronicle not-all-that-uncommon experiences we all share in our daily lives. I would also say that I rejected 99.999% of them, not because they were badly written or didn’t contain the ability to educate and uplift the potential reader. I rejected most memoirs because the majority of them weren’t written by celebrities, and even then a memoir can be a really tough sell. This gets back to the point I made above—unless a reader or a publisher or an agent has heard of you, they probably aren’t going to be interested in reading your life story, regardless of how deeply the experiences you relate have impacted you. This is perhaps one of the most brutal realities I’ve had to share with potential clients. An author’s platform is always important, but it’s even more important when pitching a memoir.

But if you still want to pursue the memoir route, as you consider the story you want to tell, ask yourself: 1) Has my story been told before? Chances are, in some form or another, it probably has. It then benefits you to consider how your story is better and/or different from what is already out there. Do your research. Spend some time browsing the shelves in your book or idea’s category. How can you bring something unique to your story that hasn’t been presented or shared in the same way before? And 2) Who is your target audience? It is so important to be clear on this, just as it is equally important to understand that your book isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Whittle down your proposed target audience and write your book to that market. It’s okay to have a secondary or even tertiary market in mind, but for the purposes of your book, make sure you know that initial target audience like the back of your hand and tailor your idea accordingly.

30 September 2019

Top Ten Mistakes Authors Make: #1

(This series is adapted from and originally published in the book Lead Me to Success in Publishing: 101 Ways by Melissa Wilson and Jon Malysiak [Networlding Publishing, 2012] currently available on Amazon)

Mistake #1: Assume That Your Work Is Done Once You’ve Turned in the Final Draft of the Manuscript

This is perhaps the most common misconception I’ve seen first-time authors make. Yeah, by all means revel in the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you email that final draft off to your editor. It’s a tremendous achievement and quite unlike anything you may ever have experienced. However… the truth is, while you may feel the worst is behind you, you’re wrong. You may very well have written the next New York Times bestseller, but unless you are prepared to market the heck out of your book and yourself as an author, that precious accomplishment of yours is not going to sell. It just isn’t. If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to pick your book off the shelf or download it from Amazon.

So what does this mean? It means you need to be aggressively letting everyone you know—and more importantly, everyone you don’t know—that you’ve published a book and that they need to go out and buy it. Sure, publishers have their in- house sales and marketing teams, but more often than not, they are going to rely on you to help them reach out to the marketplace. It’s never too early to start the pitch process. I’ve seen all too many worthy projects fall by the wayside because the author hasn’t been diligent in building his or her marketing platform. Quite simply, many publishers won’t even consider acquiring a new project unless the author has a proven publicity track record. It’s all about PLATFORM, PLATFORM, PLATFORM! This is perhaps the most overused word in the publishing lexicon. Get acquainted with it, make it your friend, and use it to your best advantage. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are great places to start. If you don’t have an account with one (or more) of these social media sites, sign up for one today!!!