Three unwelcome truths about book publishing

Three unwelcome truths about book publishing

Over the years, I have come across three unwelcome truths about book publishing that almost every author trips over at some point in their journey. As a self-publishing authors, these three truths are the biggest obstacles you will probably encounter in publishing your book. In fact, these issues are so huge that even eclipse the far greater opportunities offered by having your book. So what are these three truths and how can you prevent them from holding you back so you can achieve your goal?

Truth #1: Publishing is Risky

Yes, it’s true. Ask any publisher and they will tell you that publishing is all about managing risk. You just never really know what is going to happen until you actually publish. You can put your heart and soul into publishing a book only to find that nobody wants to buy it when you launch it…or at least, fewer than you would like. When this happens, selling your book becomes a hard slog, you feel demoralized, and probably a bit embarrassed by your ‘failure’.

risk and reward

What is the solution to this problem?

The first thing you need to do is to accept this risk because when you accept it, you can start to deal with it. The fear of risk is simply fear of failure in another guise. It is a reason to hold back, to avoid taking action and to move away from a challenge.

There is a lot you can do to mitigate publishing risk: first, you can plan your book properly. Click To Tweet

In fact, there is a lot you can do to mitigate publishing risk: first, you can plan your book properly, do market research, survey your potential buyers and test your idea; second, you can plan a marketing campaign that begins long before you publish so you effectively create your own micro-market to launch your book into; and finally, you can build your book into the heart of your business so book sales and revenue are not your only markers of success.

If any fear – the fear of risk, the fear of failure or the fear that you might not succeeding – is holding you back, take back control and start to recognize how much influence you have over the success of your book. Of the three unwelcome truths about book publishing, this is the one that can hamper you the most, but when you focus on the rewards, you will find excitement replaces fear as the potential for success with a book far outstrips the risk of failure.

Truth #2: Publishing is Time-Consuming

A book can take as much or as little of your time as you want it to. Some books can be published fast. For example, the transcript of an interview can be published fast as can a collection of related blog posts.  All you need to do is write a short introduction, get a cover done, write some sales copy, convert it to Kindle and publish it. Now, I know that sounds like a lot of steps, but you could get all that done in a couple of hours and easily within a week.

If, by contrast, you want to write a book from scratch, get it professionally edited, market and sell it over time and use it as an intrinsic part of your business for some while to come, it’s likely that a book like this will take up more of your time.

Overwhelming & time-consuming

Publishing can be time-consuming or not – it depends what type of book you write.

What is the solution to this problem?

The second of the three unwelcome truths about book publishing is easily challenged because in fact, it is up to you how many hours, days, weeks, months or even years you decide to invest in your book. The time it takes to produce your book is totally within your control because the format, length and time you invest in producing it is elastic.

There are few tasks you will have to factor in, such as the time it takes to get the technical work done i.e. copy editing, proofreading, cover design, formatting, printing etc, but after that, it comes down to how much time you want to dedicate to your book and how you want to organize that time.

You can choose whether you work a lot of hours (50, 60, 70 maybe) in one week and put all your effort into producing a book fast or whether you work a few hours every week and get your book done over a series of weeks or months instead. Ultimately, however long you want to spend getting your book done is up to you.

Truth #3: Publishing is Expensive

This is the probably the most unwelcome of the three unwelcome truths about book publishing for many self-publishing authors: the expense. There is a general consensus that publishing a book is expensive. However, like the issue of time, money is an elastic resource. I worked on books that cost thousands to produce and others that cost hundreds. However, the amount of investment made into the book was directly in proportion to the expected revenue it would earn. Books that had the capacity to earn a lot generally had a lot invested into them.  That said, you could easily produce a book without making a massive investment and still reap good rewards from it.

There are many ways to get things done for a low budget these days. It’s true that in general you get what you pay for, but if you want to pay less, you can do that. You may have to do more work yourself to compensate but you have that choice. You might not care if you don’t have the world’s most impressive cover – if you have a hungry list, they’ll probably buy the book no matter what the cover looks like.

What is the solution to this problem?

The solution to any budgeting problem is to define your maximum budget and find people who can do the work to that budget. You may have to forsake the goal of reaching the highest standards – but then again, if you use the resources available to you wisely, you may not.

There are countless freelance sites you can buy services from – Elance, Fiverr, People Per Hour… there are many more you can explore. Equally, if you are set on finding an editor or designer with years of experience working in top publishers in the world, you are going to pay a lot more for it.

budget

Set your budget then work within it.

Do some research to find out what the going rate is for the work you want done then set your budget adding a ten per cent contingency. Be realistic about what your money will buy and be prepared to do some extra work yourself if necessary.

Money and time are usually two sides of one coin called ‘resources’. If you have a lot of one resource, you tend to have less of the other. Use your resources intelligently. If you have a lot of something, use it and use less of your other resources. That way, you will minimise stress and get more done.


Whatever the issues that face us when we take on projects like publishing a book, there are ways around them. There are horror stories galore and people will always want to tell you that you can’t do something. If you are honest with yourself and you plan carefully, you will maximise your chances of success in publishing. The solution is always there, it’s up to you to see it and use it.

What is stopping you from writing and publishing your book? I would love to hear what – if anything – is getting in the way of you writing your book.  

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About The Author

Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.

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