OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
I spoke at Strathpine Library Book Group (Brisbane, Australia) the other night and thoroughly enjoyed the experience!
It was a group of lovely people, of varied ages and experience. There was the (almost) published thriller writer, the blocked sci-fi fan, the lovely ladies who wrote children's books, young adult and poetry, the footie fan who needed help with his audio transcription, and of course, the 82 year old who was not having any of my digital publishing nonsense!
I am certainly no expert on the craft of writing, so I went to inspire and excite the group about the possibilities there are in publishing right now. I also wanted to share the things I wish I had known prior to writing my first book as follows:
- Writing is a journey, but a book is a goal. You can make it. You can hold your book in your hands. It is achievable. But it is not just about just writing, you actually have to set a target and then make it happen. Make your goal SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based. So don't say “I will write my Lord of the Rings style trilogy epic in 6 weeks”. That's not going to happen. But you can say “I will write 1000 words per day on my <genre> novel and I will finish the first draft in 3 months”. When you write that first book, you struggle because it seems endless…but you can make it!
- You need to know about publishing options before you finish your book. I knew nothing about publishing while I was writing my book. I thought once I wrote it, I could just find a publisher. Imagine my surprise when I found out how long things take, and how small the industry is here in Oz compared to the US and UK! I also found out that I should have sent a query letter and a proposal as opposed to a completed book (for non-fiction at least). If you know your options, then you can set things in motion before you finish the manuscript.
- Publishers want a “platform” and a marketing plan as part of your query/submission. If you are not an established author, this is even more important. I have lots about this on the blog – but I will particularly point you back to How Gary Vaynerchuk got a 10 book deal with Harper Collins. Also, here is a free award-winning book marketing plan if you need ideas for your marketing!
- There are other methods to publication other than the traditional route. Don't be discouraged and don't give up! Free your creativity! Use your energy to get your words out there! Self-publish, publish an ebook, write a blog, write articles, do a podcast, use print-on-demand. There are so many options and adventures to be had with your creativity.
- You can sell your book on Amazon.com, the biggest bookshop in the world. You don't need a publisher to sell your book on Amazon. You can use a self-publishing service like Lulu.com, CreateSpace or Booksurge and distribute your book that way. You can use print-on-demand and you don't have to hold stock. It is practically free! Wow! This was (and still is) so exciting to me! Despite the #AmazonFail debacle, Amazon still provides an amazing service to readers and authors all over the world.
- Promotion can be done yourself, with time and no money. Suck up all the knowledge you can and do it yourself. Don't have your finished book sitting sad at home – get it out there! You can even make it onto Oprah with a self-published book now. My story is not quite so ‘big', but I made it on Australian National TV with my self-published book “How to Enjoy Your Job”. I didn't have the budget for a publicist so I spent 9 months learning about marketing. A great investment!
- Writing and publishing books is addictive! You might think you will only write this one, but soon you have loads more ideas for more books! I have since written 2 more – both are ebooks now, and both will be on Amazon in the next month or so.