Have you ever written, or thought of writing, a book? Should you?
Almost everyone says they want to write a book.
Sometimes it's a memoir. Other times it's a fiction novel or a nonfiction book about business. If you're into food, it may even be a cookbook.
With the accessibility of self-publishing, it's become "easy" to write and publish your own book, or so we've been told.
I've written two books--one through a traditional publisher (a nonfiction book about the history of pizza called Pizza: A Slice of American History), and another that I self-published through Amazon Kindle (a children's book called The Peanut Butter Bandit).
I learned pros and cons from both experiences.
1. It's a lot of work to write a book. I've written well over 1,000 articles in my career, but sitting down to write that nonfiction book was harder than I imagined. It wasn't the same as just combining several articles together. A lot of books out there promote things like, "write a book in a week," but if you want a quality book, it's not going to happen in a week. Same goes for the children's book. The learning curve to figure out how to format everything for Amazon took hours of research. My sister did hand-drawn illustrations for the book, so we went back and forth via email for months on how the book should look. Again, not an overnight project.
2. You are in charge of your own book marketing. Whether going through a traditional publisher or self-publishing, you have to be ready to put in the legwork to market your book. If you aren't a big-name author, you will be in charge of scheduling interviews, setting up book signings, promoting consistently on social media and more. There are close to a million books published every year. If you don't let anyone know about yours, they won't.
3. You probably won't sell thousands of books. Yes, there's the occasional breakout hit, but, for the most part, you have to ultimately feel satisfied that you're putting great work that means something to you out into the world. In fact, most self-published authors will make less than $500 from their book, according to the Nonfiction Authors Association. If you go into it thinking you'll become a millionaire, you more than likely, will be disappointed.
4. A book can be worth more than the book sales. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how many copies of a book you sell, if the book is in your niche. When associates and clients see that you've written a book, a funny thing happens...you're suddenly an "expert." You can link to your book in your email signature, mention it in your social pages and resume. Trust me, people will notice! I know a guy who has used one small nonfiction book to literally travel the world giving hundreds of talks--one book! I've been contacted and interviewed more than a dozen times just because I have a book.
5. You can't take low sales personally. It can be hard, especially as a new author, when you get your sales report and it doesn't show the numbers you were hoping for. Your sweet mom may even start peddling your book to family and friends in her well-meaning attempt to boost sales. But it's okay. You don't have to sell thousands of books, or have your book be a "best seller" for it to mean something. You're an author! Be proud! Use that book to get a new job, make a new sale, or promote yourself as an expert.
Interested in what some other authors have to say about their books?
Let's take a look...
Shelley Moench-Kelly says: "I've published Here's Your Pill, Kitten! (released October 6 on Amazon), about spending 90 days as the youngest patient in two nursing homes following a catastrophic accident. While my story is both horrific and hilarious, it also serves as a PSA, so readers can educate themselves about the state of nursing homes in America, the opioid crisis, and the broken healthcare system."
Carol Brzozowski says: "My book is: Author: "Empty Nest, Single Parent: Moving the Needle Toward A Repurposed Life (Amazon). The introduction starts with a clam bake and champagne that I enjoyed on a New Year's Eve as an empty nest, single mother. I didn't enjoy being alone, but I have always felt that whether I was alone or with others, I still deserve to eat well."
Paul King says: "Conversations with friends of mine from my hometown of Pittsburgh, led to the conception of both Iconic Pittsburgh: The City’s 30 Most Memorable People, Places & Things, and Pittsburgh’s Colorful Characters. The former was published by The History Press in February 2020, and the latter is scheduled for publication soon."
Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write for Food, says: "Promotion isn’t something distasteful. So many writers abhor it. It’s more about getting people excited about your book, and believing that you have something worthwhile to offer them. Besides, your audience wants to be entertained, more than anything."
Children's book author Sharna Carter says: "Don’t give up! I sent over a hundred picture book submissions before I got my first contract. It is hard work, but you have to be brave and keep going."
NYT best-selling cookbook author Phyllis Good says: "It’s harder than ever to be discovered and to break through, because the competition is so intense between social media itself and the networks and channels and all of that. It's really difficult, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try, and there's always room for surprises."
What about you? Have you written a book, or are you thinking about it? Tell us about it in the comments!