I’ve done a lot of market research in the process of creating programs for people who want to write books and one of the biggest areas of insecurity a lot of people have relates to whether or not anybody is going to read their book. What if they go to all that trouble to write a book and nobody reads it—or even buys it?
I totally get it. Part of the reason it took me 13 years to write my first book was that I was crippled by the self-doubt that came with never having written a book before. And so, I fully understand that doubt about whether a writer can write something that’s “good enough” for the buying public to read.
With five books to my credit now, I tend to turn that insecurity around and suggest that as authors, it’s our job to learn how to make our books as readable as possible. And that concept strays into the arena of our writing skills, which is another area of big vulnerability for many members of the book-writing demographic with whom I work.
Writing a good book
I feel there are three areas of consideration in this department and that writing a good book comes down to Structure, Story, and Craft.
Now before anybody gets worried about whether they have the chops to do this well, let me tell you that almost nobody does. Every well-known author you have ever read, has an editor. At least one editor. Some have more than one. An editor’s job is to improve an individual’s book manuscript in several possible ways:
1. The editor may work on the structure of the book.
2. The editor might work on how colourful your book is, and improve how well you tell your story, adding details about characters, setting, emotional impact, and so on.
3. The editor might prompt the author to answer important questions that seem to be left hanging.
4. The editor might improve the sentence structure and work on stylistic issues
5. And the editor might proofread the book and correct details like punctuation and formatting.
No matter who you are, you are going to want to work with an editor. An editor is committed to supporting the author in the writing of a strong book. And what that means is that you don’t have to do this all alone. Before that book hits the market, you have the option of hiring an editor to perfect it.
Every professional organization employs professional editors:
• News outlets
• Government agencies
• Marketing agencies
• Corporate communications departments
• Editors are everywhere – nobody who cares about their reputation will publish a document that has not been seen by at least one other set of eyes.
There is naturally a cost involved in hiring an editor. Typically, the better the editor, the higher the price tag, and this is one area where you get what you pay for. The less well written your book manuscript is, the more time an editor is going to have to spend getting it into shape for publication. And the more that is going to cost you. Editing is a seriously important part of the book publishing process. But it will save your reputation and confirm your own professionalism.
Marketing also has a hand in determining whether people will find their way to your book and read it. But if you start with the best book you can possibly write, and you back that up with a solid marketing plan, then you stand a good chance of chasing the self-doubt monster back into its corner. Writing a book is serious business. And to make it the best book you possibly can create, make sure you invest in a team.