Monthly Archives: October 2009

Finding Your Place in the Book World

I talk with many authors and aspiring authors each week and I find they fit loosely in two camps:  those who are 110% sure of themselves and their messages and are certain their books will sell in the millions (unless someone else screws them up) and those who have every doubt in the world of whether they can even write a book, let alone write one that anyone other than close family and friends would think of buying or reading.

The truth of any author’s experience in becoming an author and writing a successful book is a trip between these two extremes which can be taken in a shorter time than it takes to read this sentence.

Authors and those who aspire to become authors are at one moment supremely confident.  They know they have something important to say and that there are people who want to hear it and will benefit from it.  Just talk to an aspiring author who has given a workshop or successful teleseminar and she knows she has it in her to write her book and get it published.

Then talk to her two days later when she’s had her car breakdown, had a fight with her significant other and is doing the laundry and you will hear the opposite extreme, something like this: “I don’t know what ever made me think I should write a book.  I’m not getting anywhere and I’m wasting time I could be spending with clients and making money.  And who is going to want to read what I have to say anyway?  I’ll just be one more author of one more book that never sells any.  At least now I still have my dreams intact.  Why should I waste so much time and money on something that has so little chance for success?”

So let’s assume you’ve been through both extremes over the past month and try something that could be a little more productive – some strategic thinking.  You know you have something to say because you have clients who value you.  You argue the points when you read books of other authors and think to yourself that you could do this as well, if not better, than they have.

One key is to find where your expertise meets the needs of your audience.  The best place to find the need is with the people who read your blog, listen to you speak and in conversations with your clients.  Listen to what they ask and write these things down.

Another key is to write as if you were writing a personal email or having a one-to-one conversation with that client.  When you try to write over the audience instead of connecting with a single individual you leave them all behind.

A final key is to do research at the bookstore.  Find the very shelf where you would like your book to be and write down the names of three to six publishing companies that publish the same types of books that you would like to write.  Can you think of reasons why your book would be a good addition to their product line?  Would it be a good companion work, one that could be marketed alongside another book in their catalog?

Know that if you are passionate about your subject and that you regularly speak to or connect with your audience that there is probably a place for you in the book world as an author.  Rarely is an aspiring author either a “nobody” or a “VIP”, but generally somewhere in the middle.  Start where you are and be objective about your situation.  It takes time and consistent effort to become an author of a book worth reading, but many have done it.  You must find your own place and write your way into it.