This particular subject has been on my mind lately, primarily because I am constantly taking in new clients who are anxious to publish their first book.
I love that they are anxious because publishing a book is no easy feat. That is why many readers out there who think 'they can do it' often - don't .
But writing your first book can present some difficulties and more than a couple of questions. Here are four I hear the most:
How long will my book take to be published once you have the manuscript?
Traditional publishers usually give you a year, but even with Idea Creations Press, you're looking at from 3-6 months depending on where you manuscript is sitting when we receive it.
Have you had beta readers read your book and give you some constructive criticism? Have you done as much editing as reasonably possible? That is, without destroying the heart and soul, your unique voice?
We receive manuscripts at all levels of the continuum, from those that need multiple edits, to those somewhere in the middle, to those as squeaky clean as a baby's bottom - the latter, those that can go through the process that much faster are rare, though honestly, every manuscript I've ever received from a writer has needed some editing.
How many books will I sell?
That all depends on you. And that all depends on how many more books you're going to write. Currently, the fantasy genre is popular, but that will not always be the case. Write what you love, not what's popular, and you'll find yourself that much more eager to write another book. Your book will sell as you promote it online and in person. (Check out my book, Marketing Your Book on a Budget, to learn more). As you publish more books and your name gets out there - you will get a following - you will illicit even more sales. But you have to put yourself out there, and you will not - I repeat - will not be a best seller overnight. Of course there are writers that sneak through the cracks, but this is the exception and not the rule.
Should I put my book in book stores?
I don't, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. You need to remember that placing your book in a bookstore does not guarantee more sales, what it does give you is placement in a store. If certain employees like your book they may sell it, but it will sit on the shelf like the others, and most books are shelved spine out. That means if someone isn't looking for your book they probably won't pick it up. Early on, after my first book was published (and it was in Barnes and Noble) I decided that perhaps selling in bookstores wasn't all it was cracked up to be - at least for me, and at least not for now. When I decided to back up and take a look, I realized that my greatest success was from readers purchasing my book online, and those times I spoke to groups or did a book signing away from a book store. When I was the most creative, and did something unexpected (like a book signing at a boutique) that's when I gleaned the most interest.
When should I write my second book?
Once your first book is out, or even before it is out, if you have an idea for a second book, get started on it. Some writers produce a book a year, I usually do two - along with the update of my marketing book. Decide on a timeline that works for you. Especially if you have a series, readers will want to get their hands on the second book as soon as possible.
Writing your first book is a little like buying your first home. There are many things you don't have, things you want, but the money may not be there. It's okay that you learn as you go, that you discover how best to market with little or no money. That you spend time talking with other writers to learn what they do to connect with their readers. In time, as in that first home, the rooms will fill with precious and life long treasures.