"Above all, write the best book you can." Concise advice for new authors.
You’ve written, you’re writing or you’ve published a book.
That’s good, that’s great. I can truly appreciate the time, effort and mental gymnastics you’ve endured.
The chances are that you started to write the book before you really thought about the audience. Don’t get me wrong, you had an audience in mind, and with the time one spends caught up in the writing, challenges, re-writing, concerns, re-writing, frustration, and re-writing, elation; you’ve probably given a fair amount of thought to the potential audience.
What I mean is that the desire, drive or creative urge to write probably came first, the thought or idea or need had been inside of you for some time – so the audience question wasn’t really going to prevent you from writing.Time being what it is, however, going by as it does, inevitably the pressing moments in which you think about your readership, will eventually arrive. At this point, you may get to pondering something that I touched on earlier – the virtual shelves are infinite, they contain all the great works that have gone before us and the thousands that have come after, and the thousands more that mark this new age of information liberation.
Even so, you’d still like your book to be read; you may want to submit it to agents / publishers (perhaps you already have); you may expect it to sell commercially (why not); you may go down the self-publishing route (again, if you’ve carefully considered the pros and cons – why not) or you may even want to give it away for free (on the premise that you’ll develop a readership and so enhance your future reputation as a writer and for future writing projects).
So, go on, ask yourself and answer honestly - who are your readers likely to be?
I continue to be amazed by the physical book, it remains one of the greatest inventions (its form is perhaps 1,600 years old) and perfectly combines content and portability.
Also, it can be an object of great beauty and its endurance gives it a fine legacy that seems to bestow authority on the words of the author. I still read physical books and can fondly recall what those on my shelves have brought to me.
However, we’re living in times that pick up and carry some of our deeply held traditions on the fast flowing waters of change. We see an object that we had associated with all sorts of ways, means and experiences, we take our eyes off of it for a moment, and when we look up again it’s not as it was; the ways and means remain but the medium has altered.
This has happened to the physical book (or p-book) in recent years (over the last 5, perhaps). First the e-book came onto the scene and then the portable device on which to view the e-book fell into our hands. Now we have the portability (batteries permitting) combined with the accessibility; access to multiples of books. It’s for this reason, though with heavy heart, that I think it’s best for writers to consider publishing to e-book first. Of course, the medium doesn’t suit all kinds of publications at the moment but it does present outstanding possibilities: flexibility, cost and access being just three.
So, I hope you’re with me when I say; publishing an e-book first and foremost is probably the most practical and sustainable way forward at present. Of course, those waters of change will continue to flow but even so, having your book in a transferrable format should stand you in good stead in all future respects too.
Electronic content in hand then, we face the digital world.
Our book is published and we raise its profile amongst friends and family, push it out as far as possible into our social circles (physical and social media) and await its fate. And, await its fate...
Any initial interest, reviews, purchases may be followed by a period of lull but that shouldn’t necessarily concern you. You’ve nurtured your manuscript to its fully fledged eBook independence and now you’ve launched it onto the competitive market place, where to some extent it’ll need to be able to stand on its own content.
And, unless you’re extremely fortunate, and blessed by a random sequence of positive events – you’ve hit on a topic that’s of the moment, your controversial and outspoken at just the right time, you’ve been picked up by key influencers who are giving your work their full endorsement, the originality of what you have to say is so startling that it demands to be read, your perspective is so insightful that people flock to seek out your insight – then your book will survive it’s launch and move into a more regular phase of being available to your potential readership over time.
The publishing industry and we as consumers, generally, are conditioned to look for the next big thing – the latest release, new topic, smash hit, blockbuster.
In reality, if your book is as good as you believe, then it doesn’t have to achieve instant success, it just needs to be regularly taken up and appreciated by readers along the way. Some of those readers will hopefully show their appreciation by letting you know or recommending your book and its sales will continue to develop. A good book can have a lasting shelf-life, it isn’t about how many you sell in the first 12 months, it could be about how many you sell during the lifetime of the book – which might be several years.
The good news is; you don’t have to sell a million within the first 12 months of publication. The challenge is; how will people continue to find your book in the digital sea of content?
At last, we get to the reason why I think a website is such a good idea for both you and your book.
Your website (wordpress site, blog, social media platform, etc,) could be the equivalent of a billboard in a physical shop or ‘brought to your attention’ highlight on the homepage of an online content store. Your website can represent you and your book today (it can retain its relevance and importance) to potential readers.
Your website can provide you with a platform to engage with readers / potential readers; letting them in on various behind-the-scenes insights into why and how you wrote your book. About the plot, characters, narrative, motivations. Your website can relay reviews, comments, updates and provide a central core for your social media activities. Your website can keep the focus on your book over time, so that it’s presence and availability is a constant that follows on from its launch.
In short, your website can be the platform for your book, a place for readers and potential readers to visit to explore and find out more. A means of extending interest in you and your work.
But, I’m a writer, why do I need a website? You are a writer and it’s a fair question to ask.
You’ve spent a lot of time crafting your manuscript, making sure it’s just right, agonising over the descriptions, tone, includes and excludes – worrying about character, plot and whether you are even good enough to be doing this. So why would you want to concern yourself with anything other than the finished article – your book?
I think the answer to this is just that – what’s already been said above. You’ve spent so much time trying to get it right that you deserve the opportunity to have your book read. You appreciate that not everyone will want to read your book but you know that it’ll be just right for some people and you want those people to know about it.
Stressful as it is to write I think it's worth a try to get your labour of love recognised - so why not consider it or give it a try.
Read Part One
© unheardwords.com, June 2014 (all rights reserved)