We all have goals in life that we wish to fulfil and reach; learning an instrument, speaking a foreign language competently, writing and publishing various work.
If you’re reading this, I’m presuming that you are interested in some key things to think about when publishing a book, or perhaps you’re just curious.
Publishing a book is a thrilling experience, however taxing and time consuming the process may be. It is also something that you and you alone will always remember, and cherish, regardless of its readership. After all, it is, and will be, your baby, and it is completely up to you how you market and promote it.
But before that comes labour…lots of labour. I’m not going to liken publishing a book to having a baby, but come the result, you’ll feel refreshed and happy in the knowledge that you completed it, and hopefully did yourself justice.
So let’s talk through 5 things to think about when publishing, or wanting to publish.
5. Who is your audience?
If you’re publishing with a particular readership in mind, make sure you take note of it. It seems pretty obvious but would you want to read 250 pages plus on what you think is going to be a detective story, that in fact turns out to be an account of trains…if you’re going to advertise and pitch to a particular readership, you need to make sure you deliver what you claimed you’d deliver.
If you’re relatively relaxed and don’t have a particular audience in mind, then my advice is to see yourself as your target audience. If you’re publishing for personal reasons then don’t be afraid to publish what you’d like to read…after all if you don’t want to read it, then maybe it is a bit rich to expect others to.
4. Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing
Again, as with most things, knowing what you want to publish is a key factor when deciding whether to go it alone and publish, or pitch to established publishers. There are pros and cons for both, but if you want to publish relatively quickly and have complete control of the process and finished outcome then perhaps self-publishing is more up your street.
Traditional Publishing will leave you more financially secure in the short term than opting for self-publishing, however you will have to wait longer for the finished product. They say time is money, but actually in this situation, money is time. Self publishing can leave you hundreds, if thousands of pounds out of pocket when you first send off your work to be speedily comprised, however if you’re proactive with your marketing and sales technique then you can turn out of pocket to bulging pockets. I initially shelled out money to publish my book of poetry when I was fifteen, but, when the finished copies arrived, I avidly sold to friends, family, teachers, friends of friends, acquaintances, and eventually turned my collections of poems to warm, solid, physical, cash. The author is therefore responsible for marketing and distributing the book, filing orders, running advertising campaigns, and that’s after you’ve designed the product.
It helped me gain insight into selling culture, while as chief self-publisher on my own project I acted as publisher, marketer, merchandiser, designer, and writer; an invaluable experience in total.
3. What is your topic?
Crime fiction? Sci-fi novel? Maybe a collection of poetry, or even an album of travel photography. Publishing is a wide and broad field. Perhaps you’re eager to publish a book of recipes, giving a modern twist on some classics, or maybe you wish to publish a book of letters as a gift for a loved one.
Having an ‘I want to publish’ thought is the first step in an exciting but rigorous process so you need to make sure some key ideas and concepts are watertight from the off. While a novel might take a different direction and path when writing it for publishing, having the primary idea of what you’re writing about or aiming to get out of the process is important and should not be overlooked.
These seem like obvious things to think about, but it is incredibly easy to overlook the finer details of a work when you’re blinded by the end result. Take it slow and steady, and you will not be disappointed.
2. Why are you doing it?
This is no question a panel would ask in an interview, and it isn’t meant to be interrogatory. What this question aims to do is to make you think honestly and realistically about why you want to publish, and what you want to get out of the process. If I asked thirty people their reasons, I know I would be greeted with an array of different responses, and that is what is so fantastic about publishing and motives for publishing.
The important thing is to understand why it is you want to publish, and remember that feeling even when things seem tough and you feel a little disheartened, as it can happen along the way.
Don’t feel ashamed to accept that it may be something completely for you, to pride yourself on and to be excited about. Having a published book is something to be proud of, and still relatively rare among students, so don’t be anxious about your goals and your motives behind your motives.
1. Persist, persist and…persist
As with any writing, there will be redrafting, redesigning, rewriting that will all eventually become rewarding.
Making sure you’re happy with the finished piece is of paramount importance as a writer and publisher, so cutting corners where grammar, editing, proof-reading is concerned is not advised.
Get a fresh pair of eyes to read your work, perhaps a family member, or maybe someone who owes you a BIG favour, after all, if it becomes a hit, they’ll thank you afterwards. Being self-critical is a good thing when it comes to writing, but it is always reassuring if someone else approves of your work. It also will help any errors come to light before being sent to the press.
If you’ve read this far into my wordy post then I am sure you have the persistence to see your publishing dream become a reality. Don’t be shy to show your work if you want some advice or second opinion, and don’t be afraid to admit that publishing is a serious goal of yours, after all, if you want to learn that instrument, or take apart that rubix cube, there is no time like the present, and it’s up to you to do it.