My first memories of me are with a book in my hand. I dreamed of seeing my name on the spine of a book like the adventure series I devoured daily and the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy mysteries by the hour during long holidays as a child.
The dream never left me and in fact intimidated me the older I got as I saw the long process of needing to write a bestseller level manuscript, finding an agent who would lead me to a publisher with a fat advance and then needing to repeat the process on and on.
Then, the digital age arrived and with it self-publishing and on-demand printing. Suddenly my dream was within reach and the only thing getting in the way were my own fears and insecurities.
When I finally became a published author, I released two at one time; Truly Caribbean Woman’s Guide to Good Love (out of print) and Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Sales were minimal online because kindle was not an option and people were still experimenting with the idea of ordering and shipping from Amazon to the Caribbean. This is now the norm.
While books in hand were much easier to sell which is still the same today, you are limited by how much money you can invest to order them in advance and the risk of boxes of books left unsold. The easy part is writing and getting a book ready for market. The longer process is understanding your audience, ensuring you have produced a book they want to read and you have a clear system of making them aware of your book and how they can have it.
Saying, Hey I published a book one time on your social media does not cut it. If you’re blessed with nice friends, you may have a few who will buy it as a courtesy but you want readers who are waiting with baited breath for that notification that the book is downloaded or has been shipped.
Writing the book first is doing it out of order. That was a tough pill for me to swallow.
I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t have an audience ready to buy from me.
Before self-publishing and print on demand, publishers would do the grunt work of editing your manuscript, distribution and promotion. Now, publishers make decisions on who to take on looking at whether the writer comes with a built-in audience and a book that fits current trends.
If writing a book is part of a larger brand strategy then the focus should be on growing your audience and cultivating a relationship with them.
How do you do that?
Create content. Intentional content that allows the audience to get to know you, to learn from you, to care about the issues that matter to you.
What’s in it for them?
A fiction writer could possible write and share ten-word novels that people find entertaining and makes the reader ask when does the full story come out? Readers who can engage and be entertained by the bite size stories can become a captive audience for future books.
If your book is non-fiction and answers a specific pain point or champions a cause, then we would expect to be seeing videos and articles that shares your point-of-view in the spaces you show up. Why is this issue important to you and why should we care? Becoming known as a thought leader on a particular issue will make it easier for people to identify who you are and what you stand for.
You don’t want a book that will sit in boxes in your house or never make it on a best seller list even if only in local stores. Cultivating an audience THEN giving them a book they are hungry for is a better way to succeed with book publishing.
Sidebar – If you want to make a career of being a frequently published author through a traditional publisher then most definitely, focus on writing and finding the right agent to shop it around for you. However, expect to do much more work to build your audience and promote the new book than authors were required to do in the past.
The Visibility Project Accelerator opens to a new cohort on May 15. For three months you will work with me to craft the five Is that will take you from invisible to visible in whatever arena you desire. Publishing a book may not be how you want to become visible. The incubator will help you design your unique visibility pathway and the content strategy and activities to get there.
Learn more about The Visibility Project Accelerator.