Five things to consider before writing and publishing a book.

Do you dream of becoming a published author? It can be easy to overlook some of the potential challenges. Here are some things to consider before launching into a big writing project, especially if you’re determined to see it through.

Writing and publishing a book takes an investment of time, effort, and possibly money. I’ve ghostwritten two published books and am working on a third. These are the things I think about for my writing future, so one day, a book I’ve written will have my own name on it. Maybe these five things will help you too.

1.   What’s your motivation to write?

BitmoJo with her published books.

Why do you want to write a book? Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being a published author, perhaps you love the act of writing, or maybe you have stories fighting to get out. Some people write to add credibility to their reputation or to leave a legacy. Everyone has a voice worth hearing.

It can help to have a reason bigger than selling lots of books in case that doesn’t happen right away. Instead of having unrealistic expectations about sales and maybe being disappointed, create something to be proud of when you release your book into the world.

2.   Who’s your book for?

BitmoJo making notes about publishing genres.

Who will read your book? Writing for yourself or friends and family is a perfectly acceptable answer. One of my favourite books was written by a friend while she was dying of cancer. There wasn’t time for editing and she printed uncorrected proofs for her friends and family. I’m glad she did. It might not be ready for a bookshop, but it means so much to everyone who has a copy, typos and all.

If you plan to sell your book, you’ll want to consider your audience. What sort of age group and genre are you aiming for? You don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into one specific genre, but what might the people who’d really like your book be looking for? You can look through Amazon categories for ideas, but don’t get too hung up on them!

3.   Practise, but don’t get stuck practising indefinitely.

BitmoJo with a giant pencil to practise writing before publishing a novel.

Have you written before, or do you need some practice? I see lots of advice about how to sit down and write. Write every day … do so many words per day, etc. But do you worry you might write 80,000 words of rubbish if you’ve never written much before? Maybe that’s just me! It’s normal to think your first draft sucks, you can read my post about self-editing if you have your first draft written.

You could start with short stories to practise different writing styles or points of view. Get feedback from beta readers and/or other writers (or possibly independent editors) and see if using some of that feedback makes you feel happier with your work.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend loads of money on classes and courses. There’s a balance between not thinking you are good enough and launching straight into a novel – don’t hold yourself back! If you’ve had some practice and feedback, you’ll have built your skills and confidence.

4.   How will you publish your book?

BitmoJo with an e-book published online.

It’s worth looking carefully into the publishing options available to you. Traditional publishing, self-publishing, and plenty of scams, it seems. I’m sure there are ethical hybrid publishers out there but please research carefully before you hand over large sums of money and possibly the control of your work.

If you decide to self-publish, it’s so easy to upload your e-book to Amazon, for example, and then wonder why no one has bought it yet. You could think of marketing as a necessary evil, but I prefer to think of it as enabling the people who would really want to buy your book to actually find it.

If you think marketing your book is a necessary evil, try thinking of it as enabling people who would want to buy your book to actually find it.

If you plan to self-publish, you could add to your savings while writing for things like editing and cover design. If you then get a contract via traditional publishing, you could have a holiday instead!

5.   Can you afford the time to see writing a book through?

BitmoJo thinking of a plan to make time to write.

For me at least, good writing takes time. Do you have time you can dedicate to writing? Can you squeeze writing into your routine before or after your day job or studies? Maybe you can give yourself a break to focus on your book. Chances are, something will have to move aside while you invest time in writing.

If you’re self-publishing and want a professional finish, that’s likely to have cost implications unless you have some very well-placed friends! There are so many options if you have the budget, from manuscript critiques, developmental editing, line/copyediting, proofreading, cover design, and marketing. I am not saying that’s all feasible for all of us, just that the options are there these days.

Assess your priorities, gift yourself the time to write as an investment in your long-term goals, and consider adding to your savings, just in case!

This is what I’ve been thinking about. What about you?

Did you underestimate the investment in time, effort or cost required when you started writing? I know I did!

BitmoJo thinking with a question mark.

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Published by Joanne Taylor

I help fiction and mythology authors with developmental feedback, editing, and proofreading. Detail-orientated and thoughtful editing for a book your readers can't stop thinking about.

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