It’s a writer’s world. Digital and self-publishing have transformed the ease and speed of which writers can share their message with readers. Amazon quickly proves this fact with the more than 32 million books that it hosts on its global distribution platform. Yet, if you spoke to them, more than half of these authors will tell you that the success they looked forward to experiencing with the release of their books did not pan out the way they expected. That leads me to the five things I’d like to share with you today. There are some key things that all successful authors know, and five of them are:
1. Being a Good Writer Helps
This point may seem obvious to some, but oftentimes people proceed to write a book without actually sitting down and first mastering the art of writing. In fact, not all authors are writers, and not all writers are authors. Avid readers, the ones you want to attract and the ones you want to read your book and review it, can spot a poorly written book as quickly as they can spot a well-written one. If your writing skills need some work, don’t be afraid to take a class or two in order to improve. Also, especially if you choose to self-publish, invest in an experienced and skillful editor who can tighten your work and point out any areas that need improvement. However, a well-written book alone does not guarantee success.
2. Know Your Subject Matter, Really Know it
Having expert knowledge on your topic of interest will legitimize your authorship and qualify your voice as an authority on the issue. Research is important. Having a reputation or history of working in that particular field is also important. Writing a book based solely on opinion just isn’t good enough, unless, of course, you’re writing fiction. And even then, it is still imperative in incorporate some form of research to ensure the accuracy of specific elements in your story. When your audience trusts you, they will buy what you have written.
3. Know Your Audience
You’d be surprised how many authors I have encountered who have no clue who their audience is. As a publisher, it is my duty to ask authors who approach me about publishing their book a series of questions, one of which is, “Who is your audience?” If you’ve never asked yourself this question before, take a moment to think about it. Who are you writing for? And don’t say “Everyone,” because not everyone wants to hear what you have to say. You need to know who it is that you’re targeting. Is it single women over 30? Teens and young adults? Business professionals? Fitness enthusiasts? Your answer to this will help to direct your writing. Furthermore, knowing your audience also helps you to zero in on what it is that they want to hear and how they want it packaged.
4.Utilize Good Promotion and Marketing Techniques
Get used to self-promotion because you’re going to have to do lots of it. I know, it can sometimes make you feel queasy just thinking about it. Me too. As a professional who is also an introvert, self-promotion is probably one of my biggest struggles. But it must be overcome in order to share your book with more than your inner circle. You’ll have to sell yourself to sell your work. But should all your pep talks to yourself in the mirror fail, there are great marketing consultants who would be more than happy to develop a marketing strategy to help you succeed. Hire one.
5. Reform Your Idea of Success
Many first time authors walk into the process of writing and releasing a book with the idea that they will sell thousands of copies and make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Well, that doesn’t always happen. If that were true, then every single author on Amazon would be rich. The truth is that releasing a book can result in so much more than money. For example, it can lead to a new career as a sought-after speaker on a particular issue or topic. It can be used as a great promotional tool for the services you offer. It can be used as a professional credit to secure a teaching position at a post-secondary institution. And so much more.
The world of a successful writer is complex, and the turnovers are multifaceted. My advice is to approach your career as a writer with an open mind and a flexible will. There will be quiet moments and busy ones. But the world is literally at your fingertips. I hope to read your work someday.
By Kerri-Ann Haye-Donawa
Kerri-Ann Haye-Donawa is an award-winning writer and editor who is passionate about the art of clear communication. Kerri-Ann is the co-founder of Conclusio House, a hybrid publishing company based in Ontario, Canada. She has worked with an extensive list of authors, ministers, non-profit organizations, business owners, and various publications in Canada, the United States, China, Africa, and the Caribbean. Her aim is to help fellow writers and those who consider themselves ‘non-writers’ produce excellent written and published work.