Darren M. Palmer
Winning Before Beginning: Tips for Aspiring Authors
When it comes to book writing and publishing, there are a considerable amount of boxes that need to be checked throughout the lengthy process. If you want to win before you begin, take a few of these tips into consideration.
If you understand the publishing process, that’s awesome! But if you’re a first-time author, it’s probably best to adhere the advice of professionals! and, of course, PR. This is just the tip of the iceberg…
There are several valuable things I want to share, but I’ll start with being teachable. Especially if you have never written or published a book before! Yes, have a vision for your book. Yes, do some research, but keep in mind that you need to partner with someone who has successfully completed the process of publishing a book.
If you understand the publishing process, that’s awesome! But if you’re a first time author, it’s probably best to adhere the advice of professionals!
If you’re like most folks, you’re probably procrastinating, wondering how you’ll ever eat this elephant. I like to tell all of the authors I work with; the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
So many people get carried away and attempt to do everything by themselves, which can prolong the process or cause unnecessary stress! Let someone else worry about the process so you can focus on writing! Not the other way around.
Many of us are true to form when we are faced with something we’re unsure of. We start by asking for help. Writing an entire book and then navigating the publishing industry can be intimidating.
That’s the core reason why most people connect with people who have done it before. The publishing world has changed dramatically and created a need for experts.
In the past, it used to be that if a publishing company or a particular editor saw potential in your manuscript, that was half the battle. And when you made it, you were swept up in the whirlwind of being an “author.” In-house editors did the work of polishing your manuscript, and the publishing company handled your marketing and public relations. Making it to the big time certainly had its perks.
But it’s no secret that the world itself has shifted dramatically in the last two decades — and technology has had a palpable effect on every aspect of our lives. What used to be out of our reach is now in the palm of our hands.
Nothing happens overnight, and it takes a lot of hard work — but it’s doable.
There is no doubt that technology has opened doors for us that we never dreamed possible. Effecting every industry, and publishing is no exception.
Before writing a book and stepping into the world of publishing, you must be teachable. So I have to ask you how teachable you are?
Teachable refers to someone’s willingness and ability to grow and relinquish control in an area in which they are unfamiliar. Teachable can also mean the willingness to accept and incorporate feedback.
No one has everything figured out, so why not follow the advice of others who have been successful in an area you desire to be successful?
In my experience, I’ve found that the best results come with a true partnership — creating win-wins for everyone!
How are win-wins defined? To me, it is helping my clients be their absolute best — by guiding them on the steps of publishing that teach them how to leverage their books in business, work on their strengths and overcome their challenges.
Win-wins are defined when my team and I have been able to guide them towards becoming more effective writers, entrepreneurs, leaders, and authors who get more consistent, better results. It’s whether the work we’ve done together has helped them reach their goals.
As a self-publishing company, our job is ultimately to help our clients be more productive and successful in completing their book(s). It’s challenging to do this if our clients consider that their current “best practices” are, in fact, the best.
This is why you must be teachable. Being teachable begins with accepting the fact that everyone can improve, no matter how good they believe they are. My team and I can only truly “work our magic” if everyone involved is on the same page (pun intended). Those who want to be open. Those who wish to be informed. Those who trust the process.
Authors will only have valuable experiences if they make the experience useful for themselves by jumping in with both feet. It isn’t just about being able to hear feedback. It’s about being open — to new experiences, perspectives, methods, tools, and ideas — so they can figure out what resonates with them.
So they can keep what sticks and let go of what doesn’t, and ultimately, so they can grow into a more refined version of yourself. Writing a book is more than just becoming an author. A lot takes place from beginning to end.
One of our roles is to engage with our authors actively — to challenge them, offer our insights, and help navigate them with the publishing process.
When an author is open to instruction, they are free to see the connection between their specific responsibilities, and everyone can stay aligned with the vision. Every author has a vision and mission that they are trying to achieve. As a publishing company, we want to ensure that our clients’ needs are met and that we help them fulfill their vision.
One of the most telling signs that someone is ready to move forward is their ability to hear and apply feedback, and their willingness to learn new skills/knowledge. Before committing to the process, you must seriously consider if you are willing to embrace the process that comes along with becoming an author. It requires work, discipline, and diligence. Everyone sees the author signing books at the book launch, but no one sees the attention to detail and the work that takes place behind the scenes.
Authors must now do more than just write. The days where the author’s only job was to charm the reader with an exciting arrangement of words on a page are all but gone. The fact is, at this particular point in our timeline, the authors have access to research and marketing tools, and they should be using them.
And authors with a better understanding of the process, i.e., knowing what they need to bring to the table, would perhaps stand a better chance of being successful in their industry.
It is vital to have someone work with you in every area of the book writing process. You will need help with grammar, syntax, plot, and sentence structure along with the design and marketing. That’s why it’s best to have a team. Instead of trying to fill in all the blanks, consider walking alongside someone who does this regularly. I always tell aspiring authors that it saves time and energy when you can partner with a one-stop-shop for publishing needs instead of hiring and partnering with multiple people/companies.
While writing a book, partner with someone to help with all of the following:
Setting realistic expectations
Holding you accountable to keep you on track (so you get the work done)
Helping you develop and/or expand your author platform
Identifying your target market so your book targets the audience that will purchase the book in the future
Proofreading and editing services
Teaching you how to improve your writing
Overcoming any creative stumbling blocks
For first-time authors, before committing to writing a book, I advise you to determine what works for you. Whether you need help writing your book, fleshing out your plotline, organizing your chapters, or even a refresher on the basics of grammar, chances are you can find a company that provides your every need.
As the entire world pivots and jumps on the DIY bandwagon, it can be tempting to think that you can write, publish, and market a best seller yourself. I’m sure there’s a YouTube video for that out there somewhere. But while there are many things you can do yourself, a perfectly polished ready for publication book may not be one of them. If you’re a first-time author, this thought process can be particularly foolish.
Truth be told, if you’ve never written a book before, you do not and cannot know the ins-and-outs of book publishing. Save that for those who work in the industry.
Last but not least, don’t wait until your book is complete before you seek help. Conventional thinking might lead you to believe that you should first write your book and then look to get it published. Truth be told, this is not the correct order of operations.
For many writers, the road to publication often begins with “I have an idea for a book, but I don’t know where to begin.” Seeking out services at this stage of the game is the right move.
Stephen King once said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” And isn’t that the truth about anything unknown?
If you’re at the beginning of the process, investing with experts can help your ideas take shape and give you what you need just to get started. Even if what you need is simply some encouragement and moxie.
If you are further along in the process and closer to a finished manuscript, you may find yourself moving a bit quicker than you anticipated once you get started with publishing. So if you have already started writing, you need to get with someone who can help you with the process.
Considering that writing a book is a time-consuming labor of love (for most), choosing the right company is crucial. The imminent relationship between you and your publisher should be something that you take under substantial consideration. Ideally, you want to find someone who understands your passion project and one that honors the process. The right company will have a belief system and a work ethic that aligns beautifully with yours.
Look for a company who understands your goals
This one should be quite clear. If a potential company doesn’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, how can they ever get you there? A good company should ask you about your goals early in the discovery phase. Failure to do so should be a red flag.
Find a team with a good track record
Your potential publisher’s website can be quite helpful here. Read through client testimonials, and don’t be afraid to ask for references. Anyone with a list of happy clients would be glad to oblige.
Don’t be afraid to ask if he/she offers a test run
Not all publishers do this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Perhaps this looks like one chapter of your book. You can work with the potential company to get a feel for the process, as well as the expected results.
Read anything the publisher has published themselves
Publishers often start their businesses after they have gone through the process themselves; some have done it many times over. Do your research and read something that the company has published. Whether you love it or hate, you will walk away knowing if that company is right for you.
Use social media to your advantage
Social media is one of the best tools available for conducting reconnaissance, and you can learn a lot about anyone from their social media accounts. In this case, use social media to decide as to whether or not your personalities would jibe.
The publishing industry has changed significantly over the last twenty years or so, and writing a book to completion is only half the battle. Potential authors are now required to know more and do more. Along with a completed manuscript, they also need to have a well-established author platform and a clearly defined target market. This divide between new authors and the publishing industry has given rise to the book coaching niche. That is why it important to look for self-publishing companies who are willing to help you with the process.
Self-publishing companies can provide a wealth of services anywhere from correcting spelling errors to marketing. And while there are plenty of services available, it is up to you, the writer, to determine what they need and do their homework to find the right person to help them achieve their goals.
Writing a book can be a long, arduous, and emotional process. Success is not guaranteed unless you are willing to put in the work and seek an expert who will help you along the way.
These are a few tips to win before you begin writing!