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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The 3 Questions Every (Successful) Book Author Must Answer

Earlier this week, I spoke at the Vernon Area Public Library about getting published--and paid--for your work. I talked about selling articles to print and online markets and the different options available to book authors today, including POD, e-books, and of course traditional publishers. I explained how traditional publishers work, the pros and cons of opting for POD, what platform is, and what an agent can (and can't) do for you as an author.

But possibly the most important point I shared with would-be authors was this. If you want to publish a book, you must be able to answer three critical questions:

1. Who is the audience for your book? (If you say "everyone," you've got a lot of work ahead of you.)


2. Why will readers buy your book? (Even if you plan to give away an ebook for free, you still have to attract readers. And if you expect people to pay for a book--which as an author, I think it quite reasonable--you've got to be able to give them reasons to shell out money for it.)


3. How will you, as the author, reach them? (This is the most challenging part of writing books--actually selling them. Traditional publishers expect you to have a comprehensive marketing and promotion plan, regardless of whether you're writing fiction or nonfiction. And if you're going it on your own, through POD, an e-book, or becoming a self-publisher, then all of the marketing falls to you.)

I know, you're thinking you just want to write your book and not worry about selling it. Well, dream on. Last year there were more than 3,330,000 books published (by traditional publishers, POD companies, and as ebooks) so you're competing against literally millions of other titles. You can't just publish your book, cross your fingers, and hope it sells. You've got to be willing to market it for months--more likely, years.

Look at it this way--I'll assume you don't just want to publish a book--you want people to buy it, or at least read it, as well. So consider these three critical questions as you write your book, and you'll be better positioned to sell it when it is published.

**Last call for survey responses...we're at 168 right now. If writing (and writing-related work) is your only source of income, I consider you a full-time freelancer. So please take the 2012 Freelance Income Survey...results coming soon! :) Thanks very much.