Authors Need To Be Good At Jigsaw Puzzles, by Dr Stephen Simpson

How to bring your book to market, and attract readers once it is published.

By Dr Stephen Simpson

Dr. Stephen Simpson is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Elite Performance Director. He regularly appears on TV and radio, and his clients include leading names from the diverse worlds of sport, business, the entertainment industries, and professional poker.

In the fourth instalment of his exclusive blog for Palamedes, Dr Simpson discusses the mechanics of bringing your completed book to print.

 

Long gone are the days when the author could finish a manuscript, put it in an envelope, and post it to their publisher. Job done, and in the good old days their thoughts would start drifting to the next book, and the warm glow of anticipation  as the royalties started flooding into their bank account.

As I mentioned in previous articles, the reality is now very different. When you have finished writing your book the real work starts, and you are going to need some help to complete the jigsaw. So who do you go to

There are plenty of people out there but finding the right person at the right time is a huge challenge. If you are like me you will have to be prepared to kiss at least 1,000 frogs and maybe still not find the princess. In this article I will share my experiences with you which might shortcut some of the frog kissing.

Palamedes PR, the book PR agency
Dr Stephen Simpson
Dr Stephen Simpson

HIRE AN AGENT
One option is to find a literary agent who should have excellent connections in the publishing industry, and who will attempt to secure a publishing deal with one of them. In return an agent may require upfront payment, or work on a commission based upon the number of eventual sales, or perhaps a combination of both.

Finding a literary agent who has these qualities, and will accept this challenge will need some luck, at least in my experience. I remember one incident very clearly.

I had not heard from my agent for some time and was becoming naturally impatient so I called her. Her words could have been lifted from a low-budget movie. She answered my call with a deep sigh.

“If you could see my desk right now there is a huge pile of manuscripts in front of me, and yours is right at the bottom.”

I could easily have been offended, but I found her words so amusing I laughed, put the phone down, and never called her again.

 

AMAZON
If you can find a good agent then this is an option well worth pursuing and I hope your experiences are better than mine. However, if you are in a hurry to have your book published, and I certainly was, Amazon offers a surprisingly easy alternative. There are pros and cons associated with this approach, but on balance I have been a satisfied customer.

It is remarkably painless process, and the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing platform guides you through every step of the process, including cover design. I am not particularly computer savvy but the whole process was well within my limited abilities in this area, and I am sure it will be for you too. It is hard to believe at the time, but your book will be live and offered all over the world within a matter of a day or two. Sooner rather than later you will have sold your first book, which should make you very proud. What will also make you happy is that you keep most of this sale price as your royalty, unlike the traditional publishers.

However, if something sounds too good to be true it usually is, and so it is with Amazon. As a result of simplifying the publishing process there are millions of books on sale, and it is extremely difficult to get your book recognised. Unless you are very lucky you are going to have to work hard to get noticed.

YOU ONLY HAVE ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
The options are limited and getting positive reviews from readers is incredibly important. Unfortunately, it is also difficult. I know some authors who badger their friends and relatives to help them out, and so a thick skin is required. Other authors are tempted to pay for fake reviews. Amazon claims to have algorithms to weed out this dodgy practice but it is very possible that fake reviews still exist.

Fortunately Amazon Advertising have their own marketing platform to help readers find your book, and this is certainly an option worth exploring. The costs should more than cover themselves with increased sales.

Another option which is almost mandatory in today’s world is to flex your social media muscles to engage a potential audience. This can be fun and you will soon learn if nothing else the importance of a punchy elevator pitch.

Speaking engagements are also great opportunities to get your voice out there. As an Amazon author you are eligible to buy your books at a discounted price, and can then sell them at your events.

There is yet another opportunity to publicise your book, and it is one that I discovered late on my journey. I wish I had known about it earlier, and that is to work with a PR agency. I stumbled across Palamedes PR by accident, and it was a very fortuitous one. Perhaps it was not a total coincidence because several of my books are about attracting luck into your life, and this was certainly a lucky day for me. There is no substitute for the oxygen that quality broadcast, print, and digital media exposure can do for your credibility in today’s culture. Quite simply this is what Palamedes offer, and my experience is that they under-promise and over-deliver, and so it is an avenue well worth considering. Give them a call and they will explain precisely what they can do to get your message out, what it will cost, and just as importantly, what they cannot do.