Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why the Rush? Make Sure Your Book is Ready Before You Put It Out There

Ripeness is all. King Lear, Act V. Scene II., William Shakespeare

In a recent interview at the blogsite On Fiction Writing, OFW editor Renee Miller asked me to name the three specific things a writer can do to ensure success (you can read my response here). Even though my job is to market books, my answer has little to do with marketing.

We publicists prattle on an awful lot on our blog and social media sites about the importance of building a platform. We urge authors to develop their celebrity and expertise by giving talks, teaching classes, and writing articles. We push authors to set themselves up as experts in their fields, advising them to create web and blogsites and spend hours of precious time introducing themselves via social media.

But if a book isn’t good, no amount of platform-building is going to help to ensure its success. Many of the samples I receive from authors who believe their work is ready for publication are sadly lacking in character development, structure, or content, and a good majority have not been edited. Some have inappropriate covers, often designed by the authors themselves, or by those who have little experience in cover design. These books, no matter how much the author works the marketing side of the equation, will never be successful.

My question to these authors is: Why the rush? Why be in such a hurry to put out work that has not been properly revised and correctly packaged? And why in heaven’s name would you want to spend your hard-earned money publishing a book that has never been edited?

My sense is that many authors yearn to follow the paths of those who have self-published and are making a living selling their books. The possibility of earning income, combined with the ego-stroke of being a published author, can be tantalizing, creating an anxiety that results in a rush to release work before it’s ready.

But authors should remember that many of those who are successful have worked a long number of years to get to this point in their careers. And the majority of them have taken the time to make sure their books are polished and ready before they are available to readers.

It takes a long time to write a book. And, if done correctly, it can take even longer to revise it and have it edited and properly formatted. But authors should ask themselves: Do they really want to throw a book out there that isn’t ready and risk negative feedback and poor sales?

Or, is it worth it to wait, giving the book the necessary revision, editing, and design that will ensure its success? Only the author can make this decision, and it is a crucial one.