By Carol Barreyre
(Full post)When I signed my publishing contract last September, I had been writing for about eight years. Even though I’ve been a professional writer and marketer since college, nothing prepared me for the reality of book publishing. Not the marketing degree, years in corporate PR, and even more years consulting. Publishing a book is the most frustrating, joyous, difficult, and downright fun things I’ve ever done. Here are a few of the top things I’ve learned over the past few months.
- (It really is incredibly important to) Write the best book you can. We’ve heard this statement dozens of times for a reason. Once published, you’re stuck with your work. You can’t take out the chapter you weren’t sure about or strengthen a character you didn’t get to know well enough.
- Publishing is a very out-of-sight, out-of-mind world. Your potential buying audience is HUGE! Estimate the number of people you’ve encountered in your life (maybe roughly 10K). Multiply that by 4,300 and that’s only the population of Canada, the U.K., and the United States. The numbers are staggering even though your potential buyers may be specific – middle-grade readers and those who might buy books for them and librarians, for example. The enormity hits when you’ve had your book launch, you and your publisher have social media’d the heck out of the new book, and you realize you’ve just reached a fraction of your audience. Is there enough marketing, social media, money, and time to reach them all? Be diligent and smart about your marketing efforts.
- You’re building a brand. It’s not that different from Kellogg’s launching a new cereal. Think of what you’re known for outside of the publishing world. Now, how do people inside the publishing world know you? Everything you do, say, and post on social media goes into that brand. Be deliberate about everything. Take your publisher’s guidance. Then be thoughtful about how you’re known to prospective buyers – especially in the world.
- The journey doesn’t get easier after you publish. Don’t take a break in your marketing efforts. Take advantage of everything you can from guest blogs to promotions to appearances, and accept any help your publisher provides. When reviews and sales figures start coming in, take them as guidance without being overly sensitive. Encourage readers to write Amazon reviews and learn from them. It’s empowering to get your first not-so-great review out of the way so you can move on.
- Independent publishing houses work for lots of us. Explore them. There are only four major publishing houses now, along with their imprints. By signing with an independent house, a debut author can be more equal with those who have published many books, and get a more even share of the marketing budget.
- It gets harder to make time for writing, but do. It’s worth it and necessary to continue publishing and building your brand.
- SCBWI provides a great foundation. No matter the age or genre, SCBWI has provided me the most solid foundation of writing craft and business of publishing knowledge than any other organization I’ve encountered. Through SCBWI, I’ve also built an amazing writer, agent, and publisher network.
Please take a glance at Becker Circle by Addison Brae, my new adult romantic suspense. I’m particularly proud of the book trailer. If you read Becker Circle, I would appreciate a review on Amazon. I’ll repay the favor with a kind deed someday–or perhaps a review of your book.
When Jackie asked me to share some wisdom from my publishing journey, it was a little intimidating to share with so many people who’ve had incredible journeys of their own. Journeys are different for everyone, and these are some realities from my journey.
Bon voyage for your journey!
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Carol lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. As a child, she was constantly in trouble for hiding under the bed to read when she was supposed to be napping. She has been writing since childhood starting with diaries, letters, and short stories. She continues today with articles, video scripts, and other content as an independent marketing consultant. She’s also an SCBWI member and recent SCBWI North Texas regional advisor.
When not writing, Carol spends her time traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes and hosting parties. She’s still addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing, and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy.