When I signed the contract for the traditional publication of my first book, I was beyond thrilled. I had been hearing for years that becoming a traditionally published author was the kind of radical benefit reserved for famous people and extraordinarily gifted writers. And yet, with the stroke of a pen, I joined an elite group of authors who don’t have to worry about the nitty gritty of publishing, distributing or marketing our books.
In the years since that remarkable day, I’ve become the traditionally-published author of three additional books, and today I assist my clients to get their own books written and published. Here are five things I believe every one of us must do on the journey to becoming an author:
1. Become obsessed with improving your manuscript.
It was a big surprise to me to discover that the third draft of my manuscript didn’t mark the finish line. I sought input from people whose opinion I respected and made additional changes based on their feedback. I hired a story editor who suggested further revisions. Then I hired a copy editor who came up with even more suggestions for improvement. It seemed to take forever to finish that manuscript and I was heartily sick of working on it by the time I called a halt to the work. It was worth the effort.
2. Make sure you get your manuscript professionally edited.
I cannot stress this enough. Editing a manuscript is a huge amount of work that calls into effort a great number of diverse skill sets. A professional editor is highly trained and the right one will go over your MS with an intensity, and an ability to improve it, that your life partner or cousin probably can’t muster.
3. Interview several editors to make sure you get the right fit.
Every editor is different, and we can only edit up to the limit of our life skills and experiences. You want to make sure your editor is sensitive to your vision for your book and has the internal grace to nudge the book into that final format. What’s more, you work with an editor over a period of many months, sometimes years, and you want to feel a healthy connection with the person who is helping you bring your book to life.
4. If you are self-publishing, get quotes from different companies.
Every self-publishing company offers a different set of packages and you want to go over each offer carefully to ensure you understand what they are offering, and make sure that is what you want. Some self-publishing packages cost upwards of $10,000 and include a measly 10 printed copies of the book. Others might print plenty of copies – on tissue-thin paper. Be vigilant!
5. Become a marketing maven.
Whether you are going to be traditionally or self-published, you will need to get clever about marketing your book. And this takes a lot of work! I can tell you from experience that you don’t just plant your book on Amazon and expect it to rocket to the top of its category on its own (not that this can’t happen!). You need a marketing strategy and you need to devote time and money to executing it.
Becoming a published author is a dream come true for most of us and it takes a huge amount of time, energy and heart to make it real. The path is often fraught with self-doubt and uncertainty. But it is also an exciting accomplishment that will catapult you into a new sense of who you are and what you are on the planet to achieve. If you’d like help with that, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about your success!