Do you want your book to live on bedside tables, or in bargain bins?
Books are either loved—or they’re forgotten. If you’re an avid reader, you undoubtedly have your own beloved books: you’ve read them so many times they’re dog eared, marked up and highlighted throughout, and in some cases, the glue in the binding is barely holding together the pages.
The other books, the forgotten ones, are shoved callously on a bookshelf, barely opened (the spine still makes that sexy book-opening noise). Maybe you read the first few pages at one point, but since nothing caught your attention and compelled you to keep reading, back on the shelf it went with the other orphan books.
Which kind of book do you want to write?
Books, in their purest form, are created for people to love, live with, and learn from. In order for that to happen, they must be good. As authors, it’s time to draw a line in the sand about the quality of work that we’re sending out into the world.
“In the long run, the cream always rises and the crap always sinks.” – John Elway
Readers today have more than enough paperweights and shelf space fillers. Let’s give them something GREAT to read.
Self-publishing and quality (or the elephant in the room)
When we talk about perceptions of book quality, an inevitable elephant wanders into the center of the room and plops his big gray butt onto the marble floor. His name is “self-publishing.”
There are mixed reviews that come with this form of book publishing, and unfortunately the word of mouth about self-publishing can be quite hideous. This begs the question: What’s wrong with self-publishing?
It’s time to confront the elephant.
Self-publishing doesn’t have the benefit of community cohesion. Unlike the authors and titles represented by publishers or publisher imprints, the self-published author often feels like the solo resident of a desert island. In reality, the self-publishing community is massive—and every member’s reputation is equally at stake.
When a self-published author chooses to cut corners with an unprofessional cover, a quick proofread by a well-meaning spouse or favorite aunt, or a mundane, muddily written manuscript—all self-published authors take the hit.
It propagates the popular story of self-publishing that leaves people with noses crinkled and eyebrows raised in doubt and disapproval: “Oh, you self published? Is it any good?” (The last part is usually silent.)
All self-published authors then have to double their efforts just to to set the record straight. Yes, this means you. If you want to thwart that reaction, you have to make the right decisions—starting with the quality of the writing.
Your good name will be on the cover of this book forever; not just until you move onto your next project, whim, fancy, or method of promoting your business. Your book, your name, and your legacy live on, whether you like it or not.Now, how would you like to proceed? What kind of mark do you want to leave behind?
Most people don’t have the training and experience to be able to write a book without some support, be it an editor, a coach or a ghostwriter. In other words, the quality of your book comes down to the talent and skill of the people you hire.
What you may not realize is that book professionals can also be very choosy about the projects and clients they pick. After all, a good book usually takes several months, up to a year or more, just in the writing. Ideally, the author and the writing expert develop a close relationship as they collaborate to create a unique and compelling book.
Over 15 years in this business, I’ve worked almost exclusively with authors who are committed (often to perfectionist standards) to writing significant, candid, memorable books that move the needle—even one degree. Their books, in many ways, are grounded in manifestos: strong points of view that they feel compelled to convey in writing. Working with such passionate souls is truly the greatest joy of my life.
Are you ready to move the needle? Do you have the support of someone who believes in your project, and is skilled enough to help you execute it? Here’s how to find out.
How to find expert help to make YOUR book stronger
Use this interview template to vet your writing expert. There are no right or wrong answers: if you like the answers you’re getting, it’s a match.
- Are you a published author or a writer?
- How many other authors have you coached/edited/written books for, and over how many years?
- What happened with their books?
- Where do you find your new clients? How many projects do you work on at one time?
- When you coach your book clients, what specialized expertise do you bring to the relationship? Do you give writing feedback and instruction, or do you focus solely on accountability?
- I’m looking to develop the best structure, style and flow of my book. Do you have experience structuring and plotting books?
- If I’m your client and I’ve written myself into a corner; if I’m banging my head against the wall trying to end a section or chapter—what are a few different strategies that could help me?
- Help! I’ve decided I have no business writing this book but my publisher is waiting for my chapter. I’m ready to walk away from the whole project! How have you handled this situation when writing for clients, knowing you can’t walk away?
Moral of the story: Align your goal with the skills and experience of the person you choose to help you achieve it.
Trust me: there’s a big difference between authoring your own book, and writing books professionally for clients. (I speak from hard-won experience). If you’re aiming to write a book that can change lives, make sure your “expert” coach, editor or writer is qualified to help you do just that.
Inconsistent quality in self-publishing is always going to be a problem to overcome, but you have the ability to overcome it and experience major success. It all comes down to your decision to write a book that your readers will love, re-read, dog-ear, highlight—and never throw away.
Are you prepared to write THAT book?