All you project managers out there who are trying to determine how to best manage the immense pipeline, and multitude of tasks needed to successfully present your book to the outside world, try breaking your project into three steps:
- Writing Your Book
- Publishing Your Book
- Marketing Your Book
And you do these in order, correct? First you spend years writing your book, then you move into the publishing phase and once you have a finished product in hand, you hit the bricks. Right? Not really. Before discussing how all three phases can (and should) be done simultaneously – at least during the initial phases of your project – let’s define each of the phases listed above…
Writing Your Book
For some of us this is the most reward part of the process. This is when that brilliant idea for a book is born and you rush to the nearest napkin or scrap of paper to jot everything down before it dissolves into the air, never to be considered again. Then you pull out your notebook and expand on that initial idea. You come up with your characters, maybe a few lines of dialogue, your beginning, middle and end.
You’ll do some research and make sure you know everything you need to know about your topic. Maybe you attend a writing class to brush up on your dialogue skills, or to bounce your structure off another helpful writer. You think about your story while you’re driving, or sitting on the bus, or lying in bed at night.
Then there’s that part where you sit at your computer, typewriter or notepad and start banging out chapters like there’s no tomorrow. You work your way through writer’s block, tell yourself that your story is crap and then find ways to convince yourself that it’s great. You read what you wrote, cross out that part, add something here, make a note in the margin over there. You have people read your work, and in turn, you read everything you can get your hands on and come up with new ideas. Keep those creative juices flowing.
Finally you make it to the last page and type that final sentence that allows you to sit back in your chair, clasp your hands behind your head as you smile and triumphantly declare, “I’m finished!”
Then someone reads your books – and I mean they really read it. They call out how many times you used the word “and” in your opening paragraph. They underline phrases that don’t make sense, or call out problems with continuity “He was fifteen on page 9 but three pages later he’s seventeen…how is that possible if all this is happening on the same Saturday afternoon?” Once you receive that thorough edit, you realize that you’re not done, and go back to your computer, typewriter or notepad, crack your knuckles and get back to business. Finally, three months later, you clasp your hands behind your head, and triumphantly declare, “I’m finished!…Again!”
Hopefully this time, you mean it.
Publishing Your Book
If you self-published then you had a different experience from those who went through a traditional publisher but there are many similarities. Maybe you submitted your work to agents, publishers or contests, maybe you didn’t. You definitely used a professional editor who was (hopefully) even more thorough than your original circle of readers. In some cases they may have suggested major changes – or even wanted you to change the book’s title! Then the designers showed you the cover, which you either loved or hated. Or maybe you designed your own cover (please do not do this without the proper credentials). For my first book, Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy, I was lucky enough to chose from 4 different covers. I hope I picked the best one!
Then you got a look at the interior design – the font, the chapter headings, the dingbats. You added a summary to the back, an author bio, perhaps a picture. Then there were acknowledgements, pricing and a dedication. It was typeset and then you received a galley proof. You probably had another pass to look for typos or make any last minute changes. At this point you either sent your galleys to reviewers or sent it directly to print.
A few weeks later they called you up, or a box arrived on your doorstep with your most prized possession – copies of your brand new book! The fruit of your efforts was finally in the flesh. Some of you were happy with this. Others took it a step further…
Marketing Your Book
Did this start the day you received the final, printed version of your book? Let’s hope not. This is something that should start at Day One. I’m still writing “The Cigar Maker” and I have barely started the publishing process but I’m marketing the book as we speak. Watch:
The Cigar Maker: the story of a Cuban rebel who escapes to Tampa in 1898 and finds himself leading a violent labor dispute that threatens to rip apart the city’s underworld. Based on true events…Coming soon…
See how easy that was? It doesn’t take much. Just a few emails, a blog post, some sell sheets sent to bookstores or any place where you think your book will sell. Join a writer’s group, be a presence on the Internet, join discussion groups and network! Do a radio tour, a book signing tour, a blog tour, and pay visits to your former elementary school, high school and college. And get reviews – lots and lots of reviews!!
Which brings me to you…
What have you done to market your book and when did you start? Post your comments – let us know!