“It is only by imitating the vices of others that I have earned my misfortunes.”
~Marquis de Sade
How do you handle unfamiliar territory?
If you decide to write a book but are unfamiliar with the world of publishing, where do you start? As a naturally social creature, you might begin by having casual conversations with people you know who are already published authors. You’ll ask about your friends’ experiences and get their advice on where to start. From there, you might be referred outside your own social circles to even more published authors and resources. Soon you might find yourself swimming in a pool of details, often-conflicting recommendations, referrals, and unfamiliar terminology.
How do you know which information you can trust and
more importantly, which is right for your project?
After all, the criteria in all these interactions is usually – “You published a book, right? How did you do it?”
Some on social media use the same investigative research method to diagnose and treat mysterious illnesses, find someone to manage their money, and find a spouse (“You’re married, right? How did you do it?”).
This method of research has the source of the information well covered – we trust our friends first right? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that either.
However, when it comes to making costly business decisions in unfamiliar territory, wouldn’t it also make sense to take a step beyond the “who” and also get details on the “what” – the results? It’s all well and good to ask for advice from someone who has traversed the path to becoming a published author. But aren’t you also interested in their results? (Beyond “#1 Amazon bestselling author.”)
Sure, publishing results can be hit or miss, especially in the world of “self pub” and especially if your last name isn’t Gladwell or Grisham.
But there’s still a basic set of questions you can ask to determine whether you want to follow in someone else’s publishing footsteps:
- Did you self-publish, use a traditional publisher, or go with a hybrid?
- What were your initial goals for your book that guided that decision?
- How did you narrow down your list of potential publishers, including self-publishing/indie houses?
- What was the number one factor in making your ultimate selection? Factors might include: speed of publishing, lowest up front investment, most all-inclusive in publishing services, best customer service/project management, best distribution options, or best marketing support.
- What obstacles did you encounter along the way and was your publisher able to handle them, or did you need to hire an outside consultant?
- What were the greatest lessons you learned from publishing your book? What would you do differently next time?
Isn’t the investment in and success of your book worth a thorough investigation that goes well beyond the source, all the way to the results?
When in doubt, why not consult with an experienced publishing professional first, to remove the costly guesswork and create a path to published that makes sense for you?