If you've been following the blog this month, you've seen me refer to my master checklist of self-publishing to-dos. You can grab that here. Writing obviously precedes publishing, but there are tasks that need to be done even before you sit down to type (or write, if you’re old school) the first word of your manuscript.
Back to that checklist for a moment: If you read the blog post that accompanies it, I talk about pockets of time. There are times during the publishing AND during the writing processes during which you’ll have pockets of time to move the big-picture process forward. Knowing when these are coming can be helpful.
Without further ado, though, let’s break down the five things you should know before starting to write your book. Are there more decisions you COULD make? Sure, but the best way to get a book written is to write that book. Having said that, though, identifying these five things will make your book-writing process go smoother:
DIY vs. outsourced tasks
Launch date (approximate or exact)
What are you hoping to achieve overall by writing and publishing a book? The three answers I hear most often from author-entrepreneurs are credibility/authority, visibility, and platform growth. Those three are, obviously, related and can all help your business. (Don’t believe me? Check out this post.
Included here is a definition of what needs to happen for you to consider this a successful venture for you. Do you want to share your message with as many people as possible? Do you want to be an Amazon best-seller? Do you want to be able to say, “I wrote a book.” Everyone defines success differently, and you will likely tweak this definition along the way, but having a starting point identified is a good idea.
Quick Tip: You can have multiple goals with your book.
Your goal or goals must complement your audience. Who will this book serve? One of the biggest mistakes I see with author-entrepreneurs is not narrowing their target audience far enough. The best and most successful launches are those that target a specific audience or market. The same is true of a book! Your target audience should be laser-focused and every word you write should serve that audience.
Quick Tip: Your book is not for everyone.
The most successful launches are those that target a specific audience or market. The same is true of a book! - @jodibrandon
DIY vs. Outsourced Tasks
Also helpful is to break down the tasks by who will be performing them. The writing you’ll be doing, of course, but you won’t do every task yourself. A VA could assist with the research. The cover design will likely be outsourced. Knowing who you’ll need to hire early on in the process (i.e., before or early in the writing stage) will allow you time to make connections with service providers, see who is a good fit for you and your project, and secure a place on those people’s calendars for the future. (This post breaks this down a bit further.)
Quick Tip: Aside from writing, ALMOST every task involved with book publishing can be outsourced to an expert.
Deciding to write and publish a book is one thing; paying for it is another. You can market a book on a shoestring budget or on a million-dollar budget (particularly if you have a well-defined goal(s) and audience). Another reason to identify DIY vs. outsourced tasks is so that you can build a book budget. There are options for every outsourced task that range from inexpensive to luxury. If budget is an issue for you, decide what is most important to you and spend money in those areas.
Quick Tip: Don’t skimp on cover design, and don’t skip proofreading!
Launch Date (Approximate or Exact)
You can’t work backward from a launch date if you don’t have one. Perhaps your subject matter lends itself to a certain time of year. I worked on an upcoming book by Reina Pomeroy and Dannie Fountain called Big Plan for the Creative Mind. They’re launching in late October, right around the time the creative entrepreneur world starts buzzing about planning for the following year. Perfect! Maybe you’re writing a book about balancing entrepreneurship and being a mommy. Mother’s Day gift anyone? Think about how your book might be promoted if nothing comes to mind immediately.
Quick Tip: If you launch in the fall, your book will be available for the various holiday/gift guides people love to drool over!