Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Publishing a book in the 2020s may be one of the most daunting adventures you take. For the past three years, I undertook multiple book publishing projects which led me to experience many highs and lows throughout the process and the purpose of this blog is to share those learnings with you.
All emotions aside, there were five key lessons that I learned through the book publishing process that I want to share with folks on Medium. As an author with lived experience through these mistakes, my hope is that others will not replicate these five things below.
1. Publishing Too Early
People warned me that this may happen, but at 28 years of age, I did not fully grasp this concept. For me, I wanted to get my book into the hands of readers as fast as possible. This was my #1 mistake. In hindsight, I should have waited and fine-tuned my manuscript a bit more. I have since done this but I wish I had waited a bit longer knowing time was on my side at 28. When you get to the point with your book where your manuscript is finished, I recommend taking a break and reflecting on your manuscript in great detail. Give it time. Make sure you are 100% satisfied with it before you send it out to the world.
2. Not Knowing Your Market
I am still making this mistake as I write this. Probably because I am all about the organic process. I have believed from day one of writing my book that the process should be organic and that “everything will fall into place”. Although that philosophical approach can be a good thing in that it has allowed my previous books to enter into many markets, it hasn’t allowed me to fully narrow in on my true market….yet. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would probably tighten up this marketing strategy sooner so I could better corner my market.
3. Seeing Limited Distribution Channels
In-person transactions are quickly becoming a thing of the past. With the COVID-19 scare and social distancing, online transactions will continue to boom and the late adopters to places like Amazon will begin to arrive there. This includes online book sales as well. When I first published, I thought there were only a few online distribution centers like Amazon and Apple Books. Little did I know there are actually 30,000+ online book resellers (see top 15 list below). Getting familiar with these platforms and engaging with these companies on social media prior to launching your book will allow you to have greater success in book traffic and sales. Know the online distribution players!
4. Thinking Life Will Change Drastically
The day I hit “publish” was one of the coolest days of my life. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. The day I got my first book in the mail was even cooler. All of those highs were very special and I am grateful for those moments. However, life really doesn’t change when you become a published author. I compare it to winning a Nobel prize. After you win it, many recipients often report a lack of motivation and creativity. Life doesn’t really change much. The same was true for me. It was kind of a “business as usual” post-published life for me and still remains this way today. You may have a different experience than I did but just be prepared for all emotions and little actual change to your life.
5. Thinking Your Friends Will Read It
If I had a dollar for every time a friend said they were going to buy or read one of my books I would be rich. You need to have thick skin when you publish your book. People closest to you probably won’t read it — but don’t take that personally. People are busy and there are a million great books on the market. Just smile, nod, and thank your friends for thinking of you and your book. The rest is really out of your control.
Ultimately, I am grateful to have learned these 5 lessons the hard way through publishing multiple books and it has been an incredible journey. I only hope that in reading this, when others embark on writing their book, it produces even greater results that much quicker.