Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head. ~From the movie Finding Forrester
Do I want to write as a business?
This is a question that has plagued my brain for quite awhile. I’m so very lucky because I don’t depend on writing for a viable source of income and that’s a luxury. I recognize that. While I struggle with wondering whether I want to put a passion to work, I’ve learned some very important things that an author should understand if they want to make a go in this industry.
The first thing to ask yourself is if you know your genre. I know a lot of you are shaking your head and telling me to start with something a bit more advanced. I’d like to, but too many authors haven’t studied their genre well enough and make basic mistakes that turn off readers. Have you read books written in the same vein as yours? Do they sell well? What aspects of one book make it a better seller than another? Are there things that readers come to expect and love in that genre? Is it in your book? I know we all want to write about the things we love, but let’s face it, if your book is about something that has a very narrowed window of interest, you might have a tough time making it into a viable seller.
I started this journey wanting to write a category romantic suspense, but my characters wouldn’t let me keep the story within the confines of a category book. (At the time, I didn’t even know it was called “category” and that it had all those rules attached to it!) I seem to write bigger suspense/thriller types of stories and with the encouragement of many people who read my pages, I started to swing towards all out non-romantic suspense. There was a problem. I didn’t read that type of book.
After jumping in and raiding my husband’s book collection, I discovered two things. Those books were awesome and I didn’t want to write one. I liked the stories, but I always found myself wanting more romance infused into the book. I finally came upon writers like Brenda Novak, Roxanne St. Claire, and Allison Brennan who wrote big suspense with a romantic thread running through the stories. I’m also happy to say that they sell quite nicely. Know yourself. Know your market. Do your homework.
Not all of you will agree with my next assertion. You need to spend money to make money. Spend some money on a professional editor and for a professional design of your book cover. Begin with your critique partners, have some beta readers give you feedback and then send your work to an editor. It will cost money, but it should be money well spent if you get a reputable editor. Don’t ever, ever, ever rely on just yourself to edit your work. I can almost guarantee that you will not have a polished product.
If you want your book to be placed next to a professionally published book and the reader not be able to distinguish any difference between the quality of the two, then find a cover designer. Unless you have a degree in marketing and are a computer genius, you will be able to spot a homemade cover a mile away. I believe this is almost more important in the virtual world of selling than in the real world. All you have to capture their attention right off the bat is that tiny picture showing up on their screen. Spend the money- make it professional. I know an author who put her book up for sale with a cover she put together for little to no money. It wasn’t bad, it was actually quite attractive until you compared it to others professionally done in her genre. Despite that, sales were fair and then she hired a designer and re-published the book with its new cover. Sales soared and she started receiving fan mail. Does a cover make that much difference? YES!!!!!
Once there’s a refined, sleek looking product the author needs to publish it. You have two choices at this point. You can hire a company that will do the work for you or you can educate yourself and do it. Most of my friends are doing this part themselves and saving money. If you don’t think this is for you, there are many companies willing to take your money. Some are quite reasonable and others will charge you a huge amount. It’s just like anything else. Do your homework and research the options. I’m of a mind that if you can figure it out, then give it a try.
This is the beginning of the business part. Are you still with me? Are you scared? Are you excited? The next two weeks will be spent talking about marketing, looking at actual authors’ numbers, and can you truy make a living doing this?