Too many aspiring authors produce manuscripts or books only to discover later that they aren’t viable—they don’t sell to publishers or to readers. Or they discover they simply aren’t cut out to produce successful books—ones that do sell to readers and to publishers. In other words, they don’t have what it takes to become a successful author—or they don’t want to do what it takes. After putting in weeks, months and sometimes years writing, they then suffer great heartbreak and disappointment when they discover traditional publishers don’t want to publish their manuscripts or readers don’t want to read their self-published books.
What’s the solution? Find out what you need to do to turn out a viable book project—one that sells to publishers and to lots and lots of readers—and to become the type of writer who can be a successful author—one who produces successful books. And do this before you write a word of your manuscript.
To go from aspiring to successful published nonfiction author, today you need more than a good idea and good writing You need more than a compelling query letter or an author platform. You need to be a good businessperson–a good business partner for a publisher. You need an entrepreneurial spirit. This is especially true if you want to self-publish your books. By doing so you take on the job of “publisher”—and publishing is the business of selling books. When you become an author, publishing becomes your business. That means, like it or not, you not only write, you sell books, too. Also, no matter how you publish your book, you need either the aptitude for some of the tasks necessary to create a successful book, tasks publishers no longer do for authors, or the willingness to learn them, become good at them and actually embrace them as part of your daily job as an author.
That means you need to wear more than just a writer’s hat.
One thing I know for sure, as Oprah likes to say, is that most writers, maybe you, too, only like to wear one type of hat: a writer’s hat. That means they only like to write. Period.
To become a published author, you have to get yourself another hat: a businessperson’s hat. Not only must writing become your business but also publishing, promoting and selling books.
Also, you need a new pair of glasses. Make sure they are not rose colored. These glasses must have very clear lenses and magnify two things in particular—your idea for your book and you. Yes, you. You must put them on to get a realistic view of your book’s potential marketability and your potential marketability as an author. Without these glasses, you cannot see if you have the makings of an author. If you cannot see this, you cannot know if your book will succeed.
So, run on out to the hat shop and to the eyeglass shop. Wear them as much if not more than your writer’s hat. That’s how you become a published nonfiction author.