Many years ago, a good friend went into a coma after giving birth. She was on life support for nearly four months. We all prayed and wondered if she would pull through to see her baby girl and live a full life.
By her side was her husband. Every day he was at the hospital talking with doctors and nurses, making sure medication was properly being administered, asking questions . . . basically, being every doctor’s worst nightmare when it came to patient care. But you know, on several occasions, he insisted on something that actually saved his wife’s life. The third leading cause of death in America is medical care accidents and misdiagnoses. He needed to care for his wife because if he didn’t, the worst could happen.
I mention this story because I think it can be illustrative of some of the realities of book publishing today. Sometimes, your book is the one on life support, often from the moment of publication. Standing by are publishers and PR folks who are tasked and paid to keep your book alive. They’re busy, they have other patients (authors), and are generally overworked and understaffed.
The point is you cannot leave your book’s marketing and PR ONLY in the hands of publishers. They’ll do their best (usually), but they’re not perfect. And sadly, they have the 80/20 principle that is always screaming at them from the higher-ups. In publishing, it’s true: 80 percent of the money goes to 20 percent of the books. It’s a reality that won’t change, so we have to learn to deal with it.
So what should you do, then, as the author standing by your baby, trying to keep it alive?
You’ve got to tend to it diligently.
With your publisher: ask questions, say thank you a lot (gift cards and flowers are nice) when they do a job well done, give them ideas, don’t mention a problem unless you have a solution, tell them what you’ll do to help, keep track of everyone who helps (radio stations, bloggers, author friends). Work WITH them as much as they will let you.
What else can you do?
Well, we at the Water Cooler have just released a book that will help answer that question. Overachieving Your Platform: 95 Ideas to Embrace Your Inner Sales Marketing Genius is now available from FaithHappenings Publishers, and it offers the tools you need to break out and connect with large audiences. Adapted from the best writing of the WordServe Water Cooler, these doable, practical and affordable ideas will transform your platform and expand your audience if you put them into practice. No, you can’t do them all. But you can certainly go through this book with your highlighter and mark everything you actually could do. Then make a plan. What will you do during your first month from publication, second month, third? Write the plan out . . . and then work it.
Publishers, agents, and retailers agree: you’re only as good as your last book. So if your last book flops in the marketplace, it may very well indeed be your last book!
Don’t let that happen. Stay on guard by your book for the first six months to a year after launch, and you’re far more likely to get that second book contract. You may even get a royalty check.
I’m so proud of all of the authors who contributed to Overachieving Your Platform. They’ve done the hard work in the trenches and have learned from their successes and failures. All they know they’ve shared with you.
Grab a copy today—and take that first step toward creating a platform and brand that will serve you for the rest of your writing career.
And if you haven’t checked out the first book in the series, Excelling at the Craft of Writing: 101 Ways to Move Your Prose to the Next Level, make sure to do that as well. Craft and marketing go hand in hand when it comes to a writing career—you won’t find success unless you’ve got both!
This post was adapted from the Introduction of Overachieving Your Platform: 95 Ideas to Embrace Your Inner Sales Marketing Genius (available now!).