Out of a U.S. population of approximately 311.5 billion people, 81 percent want to write a book. While the number of books published each year increases, the number of people—and publishers—who buy them decreases annually as well. That means aspiring nonfiction authors must ensure they write a book deserving one of the few open spots on bookstore shelves. Yet, most published books stand less than a one percent chance of being stocked in an actual bookstore, according to Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Once in either brick-and-mortar or online stores, the average book typically sells only 500 copies per year, reports Publisher’s Weekly.
Despite these daunting facts, millions of aspiring nonfiction authors around the world continue to dream of self-publishing or traditionally publishing a nonfiction book and seeing it in a bookstore. If you are reading this post, you likely share that dream.
However, if you are like most aspiring authors, you may have no idea how to accomplish this feat or whether you are even up to the task. (You also may have no idea what the task really entails.) You want a way to go from aspiring to published author. Not only that, you want to become a successful published author—one whose book doesn’t sell a measly 3,000 copies in its lifetime but instead becomes a bestseller. Therefore, it behooves you, the aspiring nonfiction author, to discover the steps necessary to guarantee you write a successful book—one that actually sells to readers and to publishers.
For that, you need a training manual—a book that teaches you, step by step, what you need to know and do to become published. Lots of books already that tell you how to write a book, how to compose a query letter, how to produce a book proposal, and how to market and promote a book. You can also find books on how to self-publish your book in printed form or as an e-pub.
But there has never been a training manual for that actually tells you how to become an author. But there will be.
Just a few weeks ago, I signed a contract with Writer’s Digest Books to write The Author Training Manual. This book will not be like the other books I mentioned. The Author Training Manual will be the first book to provide you with a step-by-step process to evaluate yourself and your book idea to determine if you’ve both got what it takes to become published. It will help you figure out exactly what you need to learn and to do and who you need to become to succeed as an author. It’s a manual for aspiring authors who want to become successful published authors.
Writers Need Training to Become Authors
The concept of “training” to become an author or needing a “manual” may seem a bit odd. How do you “train” to become an author? And why do you need a manual? And do these two concepts even go together?
Let’s start with the idea of a manual. If you’ve ever tried to learn how to do something technical, you probably used a manual to help you along. There are manuals to teach you to use computers, televisions, clock radios, video cameras, etc. If you’ve ever worked in a corporation and been asked to learn something new, you might have gone to a “training” and received a manual. It contained the information from the course for you to study and put into practice when you got back to the office. A manual is nothing more than a step-by-step guide on how to do or to learn something—anything—from putting together a piece of furniture to producing an ebook to exercising with a Pilates ball. I purchased an ebook the other day that teaches me how to use email auto-responders more effectively. It’s a manual; it takes me step by step through a process. I then have to put that process into practice in my online business.
That’s where the training comes into play. Like a runner who trains to win a competition, you begin training every day to become an author as soon as you know what you need to do to achieve that goal. A manual tells you the steps, then you begin practicing or putting what you learned to use. You practice certain actions over and over again until you get them right, they become easier, you begin to enjoy them, or you develop muscle or brain memory of them. This makes it easier to achieve small and large successes over time—and to reach your ultimate goal (a traditional publishing deal or a self-published book, either of which end up selling more than the average number of copies per year). It helps you make it to the finish line: a successful published book. (Check out the free training program, for example, available at Write Nonfiction in NOVEMBER! that helps you prepare for the writing marathon I run during that month by completing writing prompts three times a week.)
Or think of it in terms of that corporate training program mentioned earlier: Maybe you learned a new computer program. Once you complete the training, you return to the office with your manual and begin using what you learned, referring back to the manual as necessary. You might have to practice opening the computer program and going through some of the functions several times, reading the manual again and again, until you get good at the program. Eventually, using it will become second nature. You might even become an expert at it.
The same principle applies to becoming an author:
- You discover what you need to do (besides writing your book) and learn how to do it in the training.
- You begin practicing those activities, doing the necessary things, until you are ready to become an author.
Do You Know What You Need to Do To Become Published?
There are lots of things you need to do to become published:
- Create a unique, necessary and marketable idea
- Write a great manuscript
- Develop an author platform
- Find an agent and/or publisher or self-publish
- Promote your book
For each of the items mentioned above, I could probably list 1-5 more action items. My question to you is this: Do you know what you need to do to become published and to succeed as an author? What’s lacking in your training?
If you don’t know what to do to get published, then you might need to start from scratch and actually seek out basic training. If you do know what you need to do to reach your goal, ask yourself if you have mastered the skills? If not, you need more advanced training. Ask yourself if you need to learn how to:
- evaluate your idea to find out if it is marketable?
- Improve your book concept?
- build a platform more easily or in less time?
- write a better query letter or book proposal?
- sell more books?
I suggest you write down a minimum of three activities you need to work on in the next 3-6 months—activities you need to either learn about (read a manual) and train in daily or, if you’ve already learned them, simply train in daily to help you reach your goal of becoming published. What things do you need to practice so you get in better shape and improve your chances of becoming an author in 2013?
My Big Announcement(s)
Okay…if you thought I already made my big announcement when I told you about my book deal, I didn’t. Well, I did, but I have two more.
- I have been given permission by my publisher, Phil Sexton, at Writer’s Digest Books, to blog a good portion of The Author Training Manual as I write it! Why? Because the process worked so well for How to Blog a Book, which has been a bestseller on 3 Amazon lists since its release in May 2012. More than 26,000 words of the first draft of that book appeared first on my blog by the same title. Right now I plan to publish a post a week from the new book here on this blog for the next six months or more. This is actually the second one; previously I published this one. They are both from chapter 1. (In the future, posts will be shorter than this one.)
- Today I am launching a new program called Author Training 101. It will be a series of 8 teleseminars (recorded with replays available) during which I will teach the material included in The Author Training Manual. I have previously referred to this as the “proposal process.” This material is included in my self-published workbook, How to Evaluate Your Book for Success. I wrote about it extensively in How to Blog a Book as well. Those who register for this program, however, will get the training and will become my beta readers for the new book. Additionally, they all will receive e-copies of How to Evaluate Your Book for Success; I’ll also be looking for feedback on how to improve the workbook, which will be included in The Author Training Manual, and anecdotes from their use of the workbook to use in my new book. So, if you sign up, you might be included in The Author Training Manual, which will promote your new book! If you are interested in Author Training 101, you can find out more and register by clicking on this link. I’m taking only 15-20 writers, and registration opens today.
That’s it for today…It’s enough. I never write blog posts as long as this one, but the information seemed to warrant it! At least, I hope you thought so.
Photo courtesy of Miles Stuart | Freedigitalphotos.net