Have you ever dreamed of writing a book? The advantages for you as an introvert include engaging in some of your favorite activities like researching, thinking deeply about a topic, writing, and even editing. The rewards for doing so can include a boost to your career by raising your visibility, further establishing yourself in your field, and extending your reach. However, your duties as a published author extend far beyond the keyboard. Let’s take a closer look at that.
Earlier this week I participated in an event for authors interested in getting published. A literary agent, an editorial consultant, a branding consultant, and a book publicist spoke on a panel. I was invited, along with several other published authors—Pamela Weinberg, Maria Murnane, Jacqueline Novogratz, and Marissa Lippert—to share a bit of my experience in getting my own book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®, published.
Adelaide Lancaster, co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a women entrepreneurs’ community I belong to, moderated the panel, which was co-sponsored by the New York Women Social Entrepreneurs. First I’ll tell you a few highlights from the panelists’ remarks and then I’ll share the contents of a handout I prepared for the event which contains my advice to new and aspiring authors (introverts and extroverts alike).
What you may not know about publishing
- A glimpse into the future of publishing. Alexandra Machinist, a literary agent with Linda Chester Literary Agency, shared that the trends around romance novels are “a good predictor of where things are going in the publishing business.” What might that look like? “E-books delivered every month directly targeted to the reader,” she said.
- Diamonds in the rough beware. Diane O’Connell, the editorial director of Write to Sell Your BookTM, said that there’s “not a Bennett Cerf type editor out there waiting for a brilliant author.” She added that editors today are terribly overworked, so they’re looking for manuscripts that are ready to go. “They won’t see the beauty in the mess,” she added.
- Way beyond writing. Marcela Landres, an editorial consultant and author of the e-book How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You, dispelled a myth. “Authors think their only job is to write,” she said. In fact, writing a book is more like running a business, and the responsibility to prime the publicity pump falls mainly on the writer.
- Widen your web. Fauzia Burke, president of FSB Associates, a book marketing and publicity firm, asked, “Will the Web be more or less important in two years?” When the audience all nodded in agreement as Burke asserted, “More,” she added, “How many things can you say that about with certainty?” She emphasized the importance for authors of developing a Web presence as early as possible.
My advice: 10 tips for new and aspiring authors
- Purpose. Get clear about why you want to write a book versus an article or something else. Is it to reach more people, build your personal brand, hit the jackpot on the New York Times’s Best Sellers list?
- Money. Determine how you’ll juggle making a living while writing your book. Will you save up plenty of money, go on sabbatical, work part-time—or work full time while writing your manuscript at night and just take catnaps while standing in elevators?
- Self-publishing versus conventional publishing. Weigh the pros and cons of self-publishing and e-book publishing versus conventional publishing. If you decide to go the conventional route, find a literary agent who is passionate about your book idea. She will “shop” your manuscript around at publishing houses and help negotiate the best terms for you. For a list of agents, check out the Association of Authors’ Representatives; also ask published authors for their recommendations.
- Branding. Start building your brand long before your book is published by writing, speaking, using social media tools, organizing and/or joining special interest groups, and spreading the word through your network.
- Product. Consider whether you want to offer a product or service in connection with your book. If so, set the wheels in motion now so that when your book comes out, you’ll have more to offer your readers.
- Public speaking. If you’re not already comfortable with public speaking, which is an important skill for an author, take a course, hire a coach, join Toastmasters International, and get some practice, even at small, approachable venues. Down the road, closer to the time of your book launch, also consider investing in press training to buff up your skills at answering questions on the spot for media interviews.
- Published authors. Meet them. Buy their books and review them on Amazon. Gain from their insights. Build relationships with them and ask for their advice about your book.
- Publicity. Save up now to hire a publicist, but don’t rely on him to do all the work. You’re the engine; start building relationships with journalists and organizations where you can speak that are interested in your topic.
- Information for authors. Read books, magazines, blogs, social networking sites, and other resources to become an informed author. Check these out: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published by Sheree Bykofsky (whose literary agency represents me) and Jennifer Basye Sander; Poets & Writers magazine.
- Support. Get the support you need to write your book. Join or form a group of other authors, turn to a mentor, hire a coach, start a Meetup or Tweetup, and read, comment, and post questions to authors’ blogs. You’ll benefit from having a community of authors and can learn a lot from one another.