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Don't Romanticize The Outcome Of The Book

A realistic perspective of what it takes to write, publish and sell a book.

Publishing a book is an opportunity available to anyone with a computer, internet access, and content. But can everyone go through the process smoothly without a blueprint?

In the last 30 years, the number of in-print books in English jumped from 500,000 to 19 million titles according to data shared by Ingram's print-on-demand platform. If we add to that list the books that are exclusively published in ebook formats, this number goes up to approximately 30 million titles. Along with that incredible increase in book releases, the distribution and sales processes have continued to evolve, going from robust brick and mortar bookstore chains with nation-wide sales teams, warehouses, and in-person events to online promotion of the books with print-on-demand orders. These virtual strategies to publish, distribute, and promote books now represent over 80% of total sales, leaving traditional publishers and bookstores with 20% or less of the market share.

But is a final manuscript, cover design, and being able to upload the book to print-on-demand platforms enough to successfully get a book published the right way? The publishing concept has drastically changed, but it is still very fuzzy: what might look like a great plan for one author may not be a good fit for another. The fact that some of the decisions can make or break the book, such as having a detailed price strategy, royalty rates, exclusive distribution agreements, and even content guidelines, should be carefully considered by the authors aligning it with the main purpose of the book release.

Authors usually see the bright side and romanticize the outcome of their book. However, the truth of the matter is that no book will automatically turn into a successful title overnight and sell itself from day one. Having a book readily available on retailers websites is just the tip of the iceberg and several issues halfway through the publishing and selling processes may arise. In recent years, all sorts of rules and guidelines have been implemented by retailers to protect themselves and the readers from content that entices violence, offers easy-fix advice to solve physical or mental health issues, and provides strong political point-of-views. As such, not knowing these rules and guidelines in advance can affect a book even if the authors have the best intentions and do not present these types of content in the books. All it takes is one misplaced keyword on the title or graphic on the cover to be considered a red flag, and the book will be buried with no chance to be promoted and all the time, money, and effort will be wasted.

Having a realistic perspective of what it takes to write, publish, and sell a book properly can give the authors the necessary know-how of how the market operates, providing significant advantages over the competition with no surprises of what is after the curve. Most decisions are irreversible once the book is published, so the time spent on the development and research of strategies will never be a waste of time. It will prepare the book to have what it takes to be a successful title on the digital bookstore shelves and get the books in the right readers' hands.

The way the author communicates with the audience before and after the book is published is one of the publishing aspects that remains unchanged. If the author chooses to go with a traditional publisher to back up and support them on their publishing endeavor, the promotion and sales tactics will still be a task that relies on the author's responsibilities. With that, a clear messaging strategy is also a big part of the book's life. It should start long before the manuscript is completely finished. The issue is that with so many options of digital promotion opportunities, most authors often feel lost, trying to do it all at once with no results. A key aspect is to take a step back, adjust expectations, and identify the author's strong abilities and how to apply them to the book promotion tasks. In addition to that, consider the budget and time each task demands. A solid promotional budgeting is as important (if not more) for a book as the time and money allocated on the editing, design, and publishing phases.

A book is an incredible tool to bring awareness to a cause, grow a business, or as an entertaining content, but the decision to write, publish, and sell a book should be carefully considered. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, publishing a book is no longer a decision that involves having the manuscript accepted by a traditional publisher. It has admittedly become an opportunity to anyone with a computer, internet access, and content, but being aware of the many steps to the process is absolutely necessary and will provide a significant edge over much of the competition.

To prevent authors from spending hours and hours searching on the internet for answers to their questions and to help them avoid all the pitfalls associated with the publishing process, PRESStinely created a series of online courses that present everything that is needed to know to turn aspiring writers into successful published authors. From straight-forward check-lists to thorough blueprints, these online courses will level-up the strategies and planning to guarantee that authors have the best chance to share the message with readers in the most effective way.


Kristen & Maira


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