"Reality is the best place to fish for the truth."
Like all authors, you will make millions from book sales, the stories from your books will be turned into blockbuster movies and Oprah has you on speed dial...
In deciding what topic to start with for the Tip of the Month, I thought the subject of “real expectations” was a great place to start. Of course a bit of word play is always fun, so I changed out the word “real” with the word “reel”. Just out of curiosity, I looked up synonyms for the word “reel” and to my surprise a list of words popped up that included the following: stagger, totter, stumble and wobble – How appropriate! Whether you decide to self-publish or go the traditional publishing route, your expectations must be real. You must grab hold of the reality that you will need to do your homework to understand not only the industry itself but what your role will be in the process. You will need to understand the options available to you, specific editing and critiquing techniques, how long production will take once your manuscript is ready, how will your book be promoted or marketed, who will own the rights to your work once it goes to print, how much money can you expect to spend, how much money can you expect to make, etc… If your expectations are not “real”, you will be left staggering, tottering, stumbling and wobbling – and ultimately disappointed. If you decide to self-publish know this: Yes, self-publishing is hard work. Yes, you will spend hours researching the process. Yes, you will need to decide which options are best for you as there are many. And yes, the list of things you need to know and do goes on and on. But if you are as passionate about getting your work into book form as you are about writing it down in the first place, and the traditional publishing method is clearly not the way to go at this time, you will come to the same conclusion that I did; that self-publishing is an exciting and viable means by which to be a published author. Once you have published your own work and have held your book in your hands for the very first time, you will never look at books in the same way again. So as you write your stories, novels, poems or memoirs, think about how your work is going to get published and make sure you start out with “real” expectations. Listed below are several questions to help you understand as well as determine your expectations. Remember to base your answers on what is “real” not what you assume or hope. Questions: 1. Why am I writing this story, novel or poem in the first place? (It is a hobby, a side job, a passion) 2. What is the purpose of my writing? (To teach others how to…, to entertain readers, to convey a message) 3. How much time do I have to devote to the self-publishing process? 4. How much money do I have to spend on publishing and marketing my book? 5. Which of the following items do I need? Copyediting Marketing/Promotion Typesetting Website Creation/Design ISBN/LCCN/SAN #’s Association Fees Bar Code Subscriptions Copyright Shipping/Handling Costs Cover Design Business License Photography Illustrations Printing/Binding Other_________ Other_________ 6. How will I allocate the money I have on the items I selected above? 7. How long will each process take? 8. Which items noted above can/should be done by others and which items can/should I do myself? 9. What demographic of people will be interested in reading my book? How do I know? 10. Where is the greatest concentration of people who will be interested in my book? Are they online, in bookstores, at the mall or in trade schools? 11. How do I determine the retail price of my book? 12. How many copies of my book do I expect to sell in the first year? 13. How much money do I expect to make? 14. How long will it take to publish my work once everything is done? 15. Do I want to employ an agent? If so, what do I expect him/her to do for me? 16. Who is going to promote my book? 17. Do I want/need my own website? 18. Where/How am I going to sell my book? 19. Do I want to use a Print-On-Demand publisher? 20. Whose name do I want as the publisher of record? The preceding list of 20 questions is not exhaustive, but is intended to get you thinking. Keep in mind, your answers to those questions will change over time. Why? Because life changes. Because your needs change and the needs of your readers change. You will learn something new and decide to change course from where you originally thought you wanted to go. You will get promoted at work which means you may have more financial resources, but possibly less time to devote to your writing. Maybe that book you published years ago didn’t do so well because it was ahead of its time or the market was flooded with similar stories. Perhaps a bit of revamping and a new marketing strategy can breathe new life into old work you thought had nothing left to offer. All of the hard work that goes into writing, publishing and marketing your book will not happen all at once, so pace yourself. Revisit areas of the publishing process you may have struggled to understand or grasp earlier in your endeavor as they will become clearer to you over time. If the self-publishing blues start to set in, refocus on why you are writing and publishing in the first place. And most of all stay flexible and realistic about your expectations. (Homophones: Words that sound the same but have different meanings)