Ever dream about becoming an author? Today it’s easier than ever. And I will be first in line to encourage you to pursue your dream. But making your dream come true means one also takes into account the cost, the reality, and the practicality of how to make that dream actually happen.
The following seven “dream-busting” myths are not meant to discourage you but rather to toughen you up for the exhilarating but often difficult journey almost every author encounters.
1. Publishing a book will make you an instant celebrity. The truth is, it may make you a celebrity in your circle of family and friends but there’s a lot of book competition. In 2011, three million books were published in the United States and the count has been doubling, tripling, rising steadily every year.
2. Becoming a published author will make you rich. The average book sells 500 copies. That’s an average. If you take into account that the big sellers sell millions of books it means that there are many authors who sell less than 100 books. Thousands upon thousands of authors can’t even give away their books. Are they bad? Not necessarily. Perhaps, there was simply no interest in the topic, style of writing, or any number of other factors that weren’t taken into consideration before the books were printed.
3. Having a book will open doors to get you onto radio and television. Sorry, not even close. In fact, one radio host told me privately that authors are in fact some of the worst people to have on his show. A lot of authors, he says, can string a bunch of words together beautifully on paper but flounder hopelessly in front of a mic. Most authors will benefit from media training if they want to sell books on the air.
4. Once your book is published, everyone will want to buy it. Wrong again. This was never true even back in the good old days when fewer books were being published. Many people only buy books from authors they already know and love. It takes work, persistence, and imagination to get your book selling by the cartload.
5. The hardest part of book publishing is writing the book. If only that were true! It does indeed take hard work to write a book and even harder work to stay with the editing and rewriting until it actually sparkles. And it is true the publishing part is the easiest of the whole process. But the truly hard part for most authors is marketing. The good thing is that once authors make the commitment to promote their books, many find that, though hard, it is lots of fun!
6. Once your book goes to press, your job is done. Only if you want to print 25 books and send them as Christmas presents. Selling book number 26 to 5,000 is going to take some push and promotion. Many authors mistakenly believe that it’s up to the publisher to promote their books. The fact is, even major publishers spend only a tiny fraction of time and energy to promote a new book. Unless it’s going to be a mega seller. And even then, popular authors with bestselling books spend hours on the road, in front of cameras, talking on radio shows, and doing a lot to promote their books. Once your book is published the “real work” has only begun!
7. Every book can be marketed in the same way. This may only be true if you’re writing a series of books with the same topic, same target audience, and same appeal. But every day is a new day. What sells like hotcakes one year may not have the same thrill of excitement another year. Fads come and go. Vampires are in, vampires are out. You must constantly study the market, follow the flow, and, if at all possible, get ahead of it with imagination, creativity, and boldness in order to get and keep your book in the limelight.
So, does this mean you shouldn’t write and publish a book? Not at all. If you want to do it, jump in and start making a splash in the water. Once you have your feet wet go out a little deeper and learn to swim. Just as you can get a lot of enjoyment out of swimming without being an Olympic champion, you will discover there are many rewards to writing a book besides fame and fortune. And there’s always a chance your book will make it big. Especially if you have the fervor and commitment to see it through to the end.
You’ll never know if you don’t try.
Finally, I leave you with the best reason of all for writing a book: Do it because you love it. Because you have a story to tell and a message to share. As a result, once you’re done with the manuscript and your book is published, not only will you have a huge sense of accomplishment, you will experience the joy that being an author (yes, even an only slightly famous one) can bring.