Why can some authors do everything badly and get away with it? Do you need to be unique? Or good at branding? Guest blogger Suzanne Collier of Book Careers.com explains all
Even in today’s climate I am still speaking to authors who don’t do their research.
They somehow have gone down the self-publishing route, scraped together the cash to print 3,000 lovely hardback books which are sitting in their garage (or even worse they are paying storage for at a warehouse) without any thought about how they will sell or market what it is they are writing.
Sometimes, the impulse to get in print was so high, they forgot to get the book edited properly.
The key to any publishing success is sales and marketing. Yes, we are living in a marketing-led world, probably over-emphasised by far too much celebrity culture, but you as an author need to learn about what it is.
Top marketeers will call it your USP (unique selling point) but to me, you don’t even have to be unique, you can be writing the same stuff as anyone else but simply have a better idea as to how to reach your audience.
It isn’t even about branding. I have seen authors do everything badly – write appalling synopses, interview badly, give public talks where you wish you could gently slide under your seat with embarrassment (I admit I’ve probably given a few of those talks myself) – yet because their book has some personal appeal it has survived all of these mistakes and more.
So my advice to you, whichever route you choose to get your work published – be it by a ‘proper publisher’ or by self-publishing – is to do your groundwork. Learn as much as possible about the marketplace you are writing for.
You may want to write about fly tipping, but who is likely to publish books on fly tipping? Where are they likely to sell? How many people out there are likely to buy a book on fly tipping? If you as the author can’t see the market for the book, then don’t expect the publisher to.
I have seen some of the best authors get rejected by publishers many, many times, before they were accepted. I have seen a book rejected at one publisher turn up at another five years later (and accepted) because it became topical again. Publishing tastes change along with life.
It might all be a bit mystifying to someone starting out for the first time – even established people in the industry can find it overwhelming. But persevere. It will pay off.
(Publishing & Careers Consultant, Bookcareers.com)