Give yourself the gift of knowledge

“I’ve written a book. Now what do I do?”

This is an increasingly common discussion topic title in writers’ groups and forums online. The poster is “moved” to write a book and does exactly that without first exploring what’s involved with publishing, marketing, and selling a book. What’s more, the individual doesn’t seem to understand that his question can’t be answered in a few paragraphs by anyone — whether they know what they’re talking about or not. It would take a book to explain how to turn your manuscript into a book . . . and another book to address how to market the finished product.

Creating a manuscript in Word is just the beginning. If you want others to buy and read the book, you’ll need it edited by a professional. Whether it’s an e-book or one that will be printed, it needs an interior design that makes it easy to read. Your book’s cover should be designed by a professional who specializes in effective cover design because we do judge books by their covers.

At the same time, you have to be realistic and clear about who might buy your book — and understand how to let them know about it in a way that makes them want to make that purchase.

The e-book option makes it easier than ever to say you’re an “author,” but is that enough for you? Or do you want to be an author who actually sells books? If you wrote your book to entertain, educate, or inform others, then you owe it to yourself to invest in your own education about book publishing and marketing. Start the new year with a stack of books that explain the publishing and marketing process. Make the time to read them — even if it takes a few months — so that you’re making informed decisions about how to proceed with your manuscript. Take a course — there are plenty of options online, or sign up for one at a local college or adult learning center. Use the knowledge you gain to ask specific and targeted questions in those online groups and forums so that you can better benefit from the experiences of those who have already been through the process.  You want your questions to be more like, “Who do you recommend for e-book formatting?” not, “I’ve written a book. Now what?”

Knowledge is the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season.

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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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