3 reasons you might want to wait to publish your book

Our guest blogger today is Nina Amir, author of a new book from Writers Digest Books this month, The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively, which transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Also the author of the bestselling How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time, Nina moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that impact the world.  Learn more about Nina on her website.

3 reasons you might want to wait to publish your book

By Nina Amir

You’ve got a book idea. Maybe you’ve even written the manuscript. You’re ready to move forward because you’re eager to get to the end goal: published author. After all, it’s your dream to become an author.

Ask yourself this question before you begin to write: Do you want to become a published author or a successfully published author? There’s a distinct difference between the two.

The average nonfiction book sells just 250 copies per year. Novels don’t sell a whole lot more. The average e-book sells only about 550 copies per year.

Successful authors sell an above-average amount of copies. Not only that, they outsell the majority of similar books in the same category, which is how they achieve bestseller status.

I bet you want to be a successful author.

When is the right time to publish?

With that in mind, you want to think twice about rushing off to self-publish your book or even to send off your proposal or manuscript to an agent. Be certain that now is the right time to publish your book. 

In fact, it might be better for you to wait and publish later if you don’t have all the necessary elements in place to create a successful book. If you do hurry to self-publish, you’ll end up sorry you did so when your book doesn’t sell. And if you want to traditionally publish, you’ll be disappointed when agents or acquisitions editors reject your project because they feel the time is not yet right.

Author Training ManualSo when is the right time to publish? That time arrives when you have everything in place to promote your book. That means you have:

  • Built a strong author platform
  • Created a sound promotion plan
  • Written a book that is unique compared to the competition, necessary in its category, and provides benefit to your ideal reader
  • Created authority or expert status 

The four necessities

Let’s look at each of these elements and why they are necessary to produce a successful book.

  • An author platform: Your author platform provides the foundation from which you promote your book. In simplest terms, it’s a built in readership for your book. More specifically, it is a combination of visibility, reach, authority, and influence in your target market. Having a platform means you become visible to the target audience you want your book to reach, your audience sees you as having authority, and your audience engages with you at a high level, thereby giving you influence in that market. Ultimately, influence equates to platform. Thus, visibility, engagement, reach, and authority with your book’s target audience gives you influence in that market and allow you to successfully promote your book. Why? Because people listen to those with influence; they follow their recommendations.
  • A promotion plan. A sound promotion plan builds on your platform, allowing you to target your potential readers in a variety of ways. Without a promotion plan, you rely solely on word of mouth or the general searchability or discoverability of your book. This is not a recipe for success. It’s better to have a plan comprised of both tried and true promotion tactics and new, creative, and out-side-the-box methods that increase searchability, discoverability, and reach to potential readers.
  • A unique, necessary, and beneficial book. For a book to succeed, it must be marketable, and the elements of marketability include being different from the competition, filling a need in the market, and providing benefit to readers. If your book or idea doesn’t fulfill these criteria, it’s not yet time to go to press because it will be difficult to successfully promote the book (i.e. sell the book).
  • Authority or expert status. You have to have the ability to write your book. If you are a novelist, you may only need a marketable idea and good writing skill. If you are a nonfiction writer, you also need credentials—expert status or to be thought of as an authority or thought leader in your subject area. Without this, you won’t be credible as an author, and that will make it difficult to promote you and the book. As such, the book becomes harder to sell. 

If you don’t have one or more of these elements, consider waiting temporarily to pursue publishing your project—if you want it to succeed—while you strengthen the necessary elements. The wait will be worth it in the end, because your book—and you—will stand a much higher chance of succeeding.

Which of the four necessities do you score the highest in — where are you the strongest?

Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!


  1. Thanks so much for this article. I have a couple of questions. 🙂

    This sentence jumped out at me:

    “If you are a nonfiction writer, you also need credentials—expert status or to be thought of as an authority or thought leader in your subject area. Without this, you won’t be credible as an author, and that will make it difficult to promote you and the book.”

    I am writing a biography of a largely unknown American woman. She was very well-known when she was alive (1847-1916), but, she is one of those great American women whose amazing story has not yet been written into mainstream history. Her name is Sarah Farmer. If you’re interested you can read something about her here:


    My questions are, what constitutes authority and influence for the writer of a historical biography, where the many themes of the story are unified only because of her involvement in them? How do you build a community of interest around an amazing historical figure who is not familiar to the general public? And what does “expert status” mean in this context? I will have the necessary training to credibly write the book, and the drama in her story is very compelling, but I’m not a tenured professor or anything like that.

    I find that I have a hard time applying a lot of the advice I read about building platforms to this particular situation, and I can’t seem to find really good examples of author platforms built to promote biographies.

    I would be grateful for any insight you might have. Thank you so much for your time.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jonathan.

      In this case, expert status comes in part from your knowledge of Sarah Farmer — which is a given, if you’ve done enough research to write her biography. You will want to be the one person in the country who knows more about her than anyone else — which shouldn’t be too hard, since you might be the only person to write her biography, right? Since she’s obscure and you’re the biographer, it seems like you’re automatically the expert. (Let us know if that’s not the case, of course….)

      As for community of interest, you really need to know who you’re writing this book for — who will want to read this biography? I’m sure you have a target audience in mind. As you know, it’s not enough to write the book. You’ve got to make sure the people you wrote it for know it exists. That starts with knowing as much as you can about your target audience (further reference: http://buildbookbuzz.com/how-to-find-your-books-target-market/ .


    2. Jonathan,

      I’d echo Sandra’s very good comment. Your expertise is in your ability to write and your knowledge of the subject. And by knowing your market, you can go out and begin talking about your subject and the themes involved. Start thinking in terms of how Sarah’s story benefits the reader and build on that. Your authority lies totally in your knowledge base and your platform will be built on how you use that knowledge–how you offer information to your audience in a way that provides value.

  2. Super! Glad it was helpful, and I hope you’ll find How to Blog a Book helpful as well. I talk a lot about how to know you are ready to take on authorship and become a successful author in The Author Training Manual. Good luck!

  3. Hello.

    My book is a hybrid book–and I don’t think there is anything out there like it. It’s a self-help book that includes my prose and poetry about my journey to love myself and accept my body. It also includes discussion questions that can be used as an individual or in group discussions.

    Body image issues are huge in America and globally–and plays a role in bullying, low self-esteem, anorexia, cosmetic surgery, and just females never being satisfied with how they look and feeling poorly about themselves. So much time and resources spent on filling an everwidening pit–instead of using that same time and resources on what brings joy and fulfilment.

    My vision is the book is used in college and university classes, healing circles, writing groups, book clubs, by women and girls, by counselors and other health professionals. Possibly even parents wanting to bring this issue up with their children.

    I am not an expert or a counselor. I am a person who has gone on this journey myself and through my writing I want to offer a helping hand to others wanting to become aware and work through these issues. And to do it in a more personal and kind way–through poetry and prose that is honest and understandable–that reveals my fears, challenges, and ultimately my healing. And so hopefully inspires and supports others. I have found books to offer me this and so I am turning around and doing the same.

    I wouldn’t market myself as an expert. I’m not a counselor or someone who works daily with guiding folks on these issues–nor do I want to be–there are professionals for that–so how would I market myself in relation to getting this book out into the world?

    More on my book can be found at http://www.kathrynVwhite.com.

    Thank you,


    1. Kathryn, that’s a big question that’s impossible to answer in a blog comment. I teach a 4-wk e-course that helps authors answer that question — that’s how much work goes into the process. The short answer, though, is to know your target audience very well (http://buildbookbuzz.com/how-to-find-your-books-target-market/) and do what’s necessary to get your book title in front of them.

      I suspect that you’ll do better with (and be more comfortable with) conversations and discussions than with tweets and status updates, so look into Facebook and other online groups where your audience hangs out, doing radio and other media interviews, and going on a virtual book tour (http://buildbookbuzz.com/virtual-book-tour-basics/) that allows you to get some conversation going.

      Nina might have something more to say, too.

      Good luck!


  4. Kathryn,

    That is a big topic. However, the one thing I would suggest is to start a blog on the topic and write regularly and consistently in a focused manner. In this way you put yourself out there as an expert–granted a lay expert. In your own authentic way, you can offer the information you have and attract a readership, and then, also, a clientele. You can build a business around your blog. I have a program I offer called Build a Business Around a Blog and consult on this topic, and howtoblogabook.com has many post on how to build your expert status in this manner.

    I hope that helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *