Self-published authors have a pretty steep learning curve if they want to joint the ranks of the bestsellers. And I’m not talking about the Amazon bestsellers, I’m talking about the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. Not an easy feat. It also doesn’t happen for everyone. Authors can bust their tails for years and years, writing book after book and never make it.
So is it possible to make their dreams become a reality?
Absolutely – through education and execution.
I watched a video tonight, hosted by Nick Stephenson, bestselling fiction author and entrepreneur. His book, Supercharge Your Kindle Sales, is flipping fantastic!! He provides invaluable insight about self-publishing and how to launch a successful author career on his website, Your First 10K Readers. But what I want to point out to you here is a really great point made in the video… one that’s not only applicable to self-pubbed authors but also to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Here’s the gist. Authors have a choice. They can endlessly spin their wheels, trying to figure out how the publishing industry works while using trial and error to test new ways of gaining traction and visibility for their work.
They can make an investment in their careers and pay for that knowledge. Learning from someone else’s missteps can save a tremendous amount of time and money. It can also preserve their sanity. =)
Then, they can apply their newfound knowledge and execute their success strategy.
Business training group organization concept. Team of students learning from mentor sharing common vision for education success as gears and cogs shaped as human head on gray background.
This advice definitely hits home for me as an author as well as an entrepreneur. What Nick is saying makes so much sense. If you’re looking to build a business – whether it be in publishing or another industry – spend time up front to figure out how to avoid common pitfalls. The intelligence you can gather is worth the investment and it will help guide your decision-making processes. Save the time for doing what you love and apply the tried-and-true methods of building your success. Leverage lessons learned and reap the rewards earlier.
Why put off until tomorrow what you could definitely achieve TODAY?
A multitude of potential pitfalls can negatively impact entrepreneurs as they eagerly try to build their fledgling companies…and basically crush their spirit if allowed. In my experiences, there are four reasons that stand out the most:
- Lack of Research – Research is imperative. It provides insight about what your competitors are doing so can stay several steps ahead and create innovative ways to develop and market your offering. It also provides you with insight about the costs and components of running a successful business in your target industry. Spending time investigating a specific market will show whether there is a demand for your intended offering. Successful research will help shape your vision and strategy. Without it, you risk the future viability of your business.
- Poor Planning – There are a lot of moving parts that need to come together before your finished product is ready for sale. You have to coordinate delivery timeframes with vendors and partners who are all part of your launch schedule. In addition, you need to plan for bill payment. Figure out what your accounts receivable schedule looks like so you can continue procuring supplies and services you need in a timely manner.
- Boiling The Ocean – Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what will be a hit in the market. Hindsight is always 20-20. Sometimes you decide to make six different handbag styles, each available in seven different colors because you don’t know which one will be “the” one until it suddenly appears in an issue of InStyle and you now need to satisfy excessive demand without nearly enough inventory because you spread your resources too thin….ahh, but I digress. Focus groups can help! Talk to your target market and gather feedback. It may push out your delivery timeframes but the insight can help perfect your offering.
- Nothing Unique – If there is nothing new or different about your product, nobody is going to buy – no matter how much you love it. It’s hard to pull off those rose-colored glasses and embrace the reality staring back at you. Leather handbags? Not otherworldly. Romance novels? Been there, read that. The key is to make your work stand out. Dig deep and find what sets your product apart from the competition and play that up otherwise it’ll get swallowed up into the abyss. Perfect your offering. You care, so figure out a way to make everyone else care. Establish a connection, show how them why they should be invested, convince them why they need your product.
I’m a very process-oriented gal. It’s a big part of my day job and I’m good at designing them. There are very good reasons why processes are developed, implemented and executed. They guide an initiative to completion. They lay out a set of logical steps that individuals can follow in order to achieve a specific end. They account for deviations and exceptions along the way and they include alternate steps to avoid pitfalls and challenges that may crop up.
As a newbie author, I didn’t realize that I could apply a process to the development of a novel. I thought that creativity trumped organization. I was SOOOOO wrong.
My wonderful editor Cindy showed me the error of my ways and because of her, I used PROCESS to learn about my subjects. One of the key steps in the process of developing a compelling novel? Develop your characters! Learn everything about them! Create a robust backstory for each character in your story, so that you know where they came from, what past experiences shape their views, and how they interact with others. After I followed the process and learned about my characters, I was able to rewrite my story with depth and purpose. I didn’t realize how shallow my first versions were until I spun out the third.
But yet again, I find myself resisting the process. What the hell is wrong with me?
I got halfway there. I know Chris like the back of my hand, but I’m still not sure about Mia.
Cindy gave me a few different scenarios to build out as I developed my character sketches.
1. Most Embarrassing Moment
2. Angriest Moment
3. The Character’s Reaction to a Dog’s Incessant Barking
You’d be surprised how well you get to know someone as you create the events leading up to these scenarios. My immediate problem is that I’m only halfway through Mia’s character sketch. I haven’t fully developed her backstory. Sixty pages into Nothing Ventured, and I’m still at a loss. I don’t know where I’m going because I don’t know HER.
This madness has to STOP! I need to embrace the process or the whole story will unravel like a cheap rug.