Ask yourself this question before you go to press (digitally or physically): 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 ebook sells only about 560 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.
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.
So when is the right time to publish?
That means you have:
- built a strong author platform
- created a sound promotion plan
- written a book that is unique compared to the competition, is necessary in its category and provides benefit to your ideal reader
- created authority or expert status
The Four Necessities for Successful Authorship
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 needs credentials—experts 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.