Three Book Publishing Myths Authors Can Ignore
The book publishing world can be tricky to navigate - not just for new authors but for seasoned authors as well.
And with that tricky terrain comes a lot of misguided information. I receive messages, emails, and comments on a daily basis from authors asking for guidance. And lately I’ve gotten quite a few questions about self-publishing and getting a book deal.
With so much information floating around, I wanted to shed some light on the top three myths that I’ve heard over and over again:
Myth #1 - I need a massive social media following for a publisher to even consider my book.
Several years ago I talked with a publisher who signed a deal with an “influencer” who had several million followers on social media. When their book came out, they barley cracked selling a thousand copies.
I asked why they signed this person and they said, “Well, we thought they had the attention of millions of people. Turns out, they didn’t!”
This publisher - like every other publisher - quickly learned that simply having a large number of “followers” doesn’t cut it.
Most importantly, publishers are looking for engagement. Are people actually commenting, clicking on your links, and taking part in conversations? Are you as an author connecting with the right people who actually want to buy your book?
Social media marketing is more about quality than quantity. Publishers want to see that you are active on social media and that your audience is steadily growing. They want to see that you are building an audience and putting time and effort into making meaningful connections with readers.
But it’s also more than just social media. Publishers are also looking at personal connections that you have, networks you belong to, your email list, and other ways that you can help promote the book. It doesn’t all hinge on social media.
If you’re looking for a good place to start, or for a way to take your book marketing to the next level, I’d like to recommend our course, The Mixtus Method: Book Marketing Foundations, which will help you find and connect with your ideal readers, show you how to best market your book, and provide you with a system so you can get the most out of your efforts. Click here to learn more.
Myth #2 - If I self-publish my book, I will never be able get a traditional book deal.
This is simply not true.
The bottom line is that publishers want to sell books to make money. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s the thing about publishers: they want a sure thing. They aren’t in the position to take big risks. They want to see authors who have a solid audience, who know how to market to that audience, and will deliver a return on their investment.
So they are looking for (and paying attention to) authors who are actively involved in the process. If you’re just waiting around to be discovered, you’re going to be disappointed.
If you have a great book, an attentive audience, and a lot of promise, they aren’t going to let the fact that you self-published previous books hold them back from signing you.
Self-publishing isn’t a consolation prize or last resort after failing to find a publisher that wants to sign you. It’s actually a great option that many authors have seen amazing success with - often before and even after profitable releases with publishing companies.
Myth #3 - If a publisher doesn’t pick up my book, I should shelf it.
I know I might get some pushback on this one, but hear me out.
It breaks my heart when authors shelf a book that they are passionate about just because a publisher didn’t bite. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a “everything you write is perfect and you should publish everything” point I’m making.
Sometimes it’s hard to hear that what we’ve written just isn’t up to par. When we pour our heart and soul into a story or share our experience or expertise, it can feel like a slap in the face when someone tells us it’s not as good as we thought it was.
This is why it’s so important to have someone - like an editor, an agent, a trusted and honest friend or family member, etc. - who can be that critical voice to bring the best out in you.
I don’t think that authors should edit their own books. Yep - I said it. You’re too close to the story - you’re in the thick of it. And it’s hard to step out of that to see areas that might need to be beefed up, taken out, or rewritten.
Some authors find themselves in a situation where they have gone through the editing process, gotten feedback, made adjustments, only to be rejected over and over. That doesn’t necessarily mean that book is worthless - it just means that those publishers aren’t willing to take the risk on that book right now.
If your dream is to have your book published through a traditional publishing house, but your first book isn’t picked up, don’t let that hold you back from releasing it yourself. Your second or third books could be the ones that finally get picked up - and that’s totally fine! Each book you write is a stepping stone to the next. Each book helps promote the last book and sell more copies.
Putting your work out into the world and in the hands of readers is the best way to start building a reputation and platform as an author. It’s the best way to get feedback, see what readers respond to, and hone your craft.
I’m not saying that you should give up on pursuing a traditional publishing deal - it just might come in a different way than you anticipated. We all have to start somewhere.
Don’t be that author who is so afraid of “messing up” that you end up not doing anything at all. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Ask questions. Get involved with writing groups. Seek advice from those with experience that actually yielded good results. Keep at it, making adjustments along the way.
And if you have a specific publishing question, leave it in the comments below, or join me in The Mixtus Meet-Up private Facebook Group. It’s a great community of writers who are happy to share their experience.