It was written all over the very first book I published.
But I was excited.
I moved past the red flags quickly.
I wanted to publish a book.
I wanted to hold the final copy in my hands and be proud.
And I was proud.
The book was beautiful. The cover design was exactly what I wanted. The slim paperback was easy to read. It was beautiful.
But, alas, once you opened the cover, the book, while readable, was certainly not my best work. And I knew it.
What I learned from publishing my first fantasy novella in 2009 was:
- If you’re going to do something, do it wholeheartedly with excellence.
- Just because you’re excited doesn’t mean you should rush to get something out there. Take the time do it it right, once and for all.
- If you’re proud of something, you’ll talk about it, you’ll tell people about it. And if your work is good enough, it will sell itself. I found myself uncomfortable talking about the book. Case in point.
- Start the buzz before the book comes out, get people excited, get people talking about it.
- Get reviews. The more reviews, the better. There’s nothing worse than a lonely book with no reviews (okay, I can think of a few things that are worse, but, point taken).
- Provide incentives for reviews – word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out, and reviews provide it. You want reviews, you want people to talk about them, so a reward in exchange for a review is worth it.
- Work with a professional, someone who has done it before. This go round I’m working with a Success Coach and a professional editor. I’m also having beta readers comb through the novel and give me feedback – that way I can fix the plot errors before the book is published.
- Don’t let the past keep you from moving forward. Failure is just a stepping stone to success. In fact, I’d rather fail fast and early so I can move on to success.
- Don’t just sell your work. Salesmen aren’t popular. People don’t appreciate cold calls. Take the time to build a relationship and be as useful as possible before making the sale.
- Have fun. At the end of the day, you should enjoy what you do. I love writing. Period. But there’s something about fantasy that particularly strikes my fancy. So that’s what I’ll keep doing.
Although my first book wasn’t my best work, it’s still selling today. Not well, of course, but bringing in enough to take myself out for coffee at Starbucks.
After all, I can’t really complain as long as I have a white chocolate mocha in hand.
What have you learned from a project that didn’t quite go as expected?