Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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December 6, 2021

10 Keys to Successful Publishing

by Penny Sansevieri

Photograph of a pile of different keys and key chains, from old fashioned to electronic, symbolizing the keys to successful publishing

I’ve written a lot of pieces on publishing success. I’ve talked about picking the right publisher, finding an editor, etc. All helpful, for sure but this time I wanted to dig a bit deeper into the keys to successful publishing.

I’ve been coaching authors for years on publishing, marketing, idea creation. You name it and I’ve probably addressed it in a coaching session. The topics I’m addressing in this piece are issues that seem to come up again and again when I’m working with authors and while this might sound more like a goal-setting or ra-ra Tony Robbins piece, believe me when I say that often the difference between a successful author and someone who just dwindles on the fringes of success lies in these tips.

Start Early

I say this all the time but clearly I can’t say it enough. Start early, get your website up, craft your message, do your research. I’ve done scads of articles on this topic so I don’t want to belabor it, but I do think it is important to start here.

Invest in Your Success

It’s funny how authors often think that being an author doesn’t require an investment. Hey, you wrote the book that should be enough, right?

Decide on your investment and then ask yourself: How much money am I willing to lose. Yes, I said lose. You may earn your money back in book sales, but you may not. It’s impossible to predict how any book will do so make an investment that you are prepared to lose if things don’t go as you’d hoped.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

I mean this literally. Step out. Network. Go to events, listen to speakers, pay the money to go, travel, and stay over. Trust me if you pick the right event it will be completely worth it. Why? Because getting out of your comfort zone will not only gain you valuable contacts and networking, but it could also lead to new ideas or a new path that could lead to some additional success.

Author events and conferences, whatever you feel is right for your work, are fantastic ways to connect with like-minded people in the industry. A lot of folks favor virtual events, I like them too. But there’s nothing like sitting in a room with a bunch of folks doing the same thing you’re doing to get those creative juices flowing.

Stay Focused

This is a big one. Very big. I find in my coaching that the one thing that can separate the successful author from the author who just sort of flounders and does not find their way is focus. If you have to work with someone to stay focused it could be the best money you spend – ever.

Let’s face it, authors are creative and as such, we have minds that are fertile and active. We have no shortage of ideas, but we do have a shortage of time. Most of us don’t have an infinite number of hours to complete everything we want to, that’s where focus comes in.

Set Clear, Definable Goals

This ties into focus but deserves its own mention because it’s key and very, very important. As with any business or venture, you want goals.

Ideally, you want to create a list of goals, five or ten at the least, that you wish to attain by publishing your book. Then, once the book is out, what are the goals surrounding your marketing? How many bloggers do you want to reach? How many events do you want to do, etc.

Oh, and one final note on goals. Book sales should be at the bottom of your list. Why? Because you won’t get sales without exposure, and marketing wisdom tells us that people need seven impressions to your book, message, or product before they will consider a buy. Your goals should be aligned with that focus: getting as many impressions or pieces of exposure as you can. Get enough exposure and book sales will follow. It’s simple math.

Bring in Objectivity

I sort of address this with the team, and later on in being able to take feedback but trust me when I say that having people on your team who can be objective is often the difference between success and failure. Your family, friends, and neighbors all love you, but the likelihood that they can tell you “Sorry, this cover really stinks” is minimal.

Find someone or a team of people who can be wildly objective. Not only can it help you attain your success, it could save you a lot of money in the process. How? By giving you insight, tips, guidance, and things that you might otherwise have to learn on your own. (Read: the hard way.)

Follow Similar Authors

Success leaves clues. Follow and get to know other authors in your market. This will help you accomplish a few things.

First off, authors are very generous and if you’re connected with someone who has written in the same genre, I’m betting that he or she is open to giving you guidance, tips, and advice. If not, they are still great to follow and observe. Second, watching what a successful author does will be helpful to you when you’re defining your own goals and objectives.

And finally, get Google Alerts on the authors you aspire to be like, every time they pop up on a blog comment on their post, congratulate them on a review, network with them and the blogger. The blogs they are featured on might be great contacts for your work, too.

Read Your Contracts Carefully

I am amazed at how often authors just sign up willy-nilly for stuff out of excitement or the need to gain attention for their book. Read the contracts, do the research. Know what you’re getting into. You’ll be glad you did.

Hire a Team and Respect Them

If you’re hiring professionals to help you, remember that you are bringing them in because you need and value their expertise. Respect their work and respect their time. No one can create miracles for a book, least of all a hired team. They work hard, respect that.

If things go wrong, don’t blame everyone from the person who designed your cover to the guy who sold you your first pencil. Take responsibility for your success or lack thereof. Be proactive and be willing to take feedback.

This brings me to the following point...

Welcome and Encourage Feedback

I can walk into a room of five hundred authors and pick out the ones who will be successful. Is this magic? No. It’s called feedback. Authors who are willing to listen and learn and get valuable input to make their work better are often miles more successful than an author who refuses to listen to the advice of professionals who have been in the industry forever.

Look, not everyone will be right, but if you respect someone’s work, respect their input. Gather this data, then sit with it and see which direction you want to go. Accepting feedback is huge. I’ve had authors scream at me for not liking their cover. I refuse to feed into an author’s ego just to make them happy, that’s not what people pay me for. Y

ou should surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to tell you something you don’t want to hear. This will help you more than any ego-stroking in the world.

Understanding Successful Publishing

Final Thoughts

So, if you follow all of these tips are you guaranteed success? I’d like to say yes, but success is a very personal venture and means something different to all of us.

The tips described in this piece might be the same ones I would suggest to anyone going into business and that’s the key. Publishing is a business, packed with the same demands, risks, and success that any business brings with it. Understand the basic principles of business and you’ve now understood how to be successful in publishing. Not only that, but using a solid model for business will put you light years ahead of most of the other authors out there, and with 300,000 books published a year, that might otherwise be a pretty impossible battle.

Which of these keys to successful publishing are part of your 2022 publishing plan?

* * * * * *

About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her new book From Book to Bestseller: The Savvy Author's Guide to Book Promotion, Smart Branding, and Longterm Success is available now!

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.  

Image Credits

Top Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 

Second Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay 

Third Image Oscar Castillo from Pixabay 

Last Image by Shahid Abdullah from Pixabay 

7 comments on “10 Keys to Successful Publishing”

  1. Thank you for these keys. Each of them pushes me to do a little more in order to build the best business model for my independent publishing. Stepping out of my comfort zone is difficult, but I'm learning that doing so has a big impact.

  2. Thanks for this post ! I agree with the in-person networking. It's hard for so many authors because of cost, not to mention so many of us are introverts. Yet one in-person conference several years ago ( my first in the writing world, actually), led to a writing support group I continue to e-meet with every week. That really wouldn't have happened with an on-line conference. Getting out, shaking hands, having a cocktail, and sharing our writing adventures is so powerful. I'll certainly be glad when in-person conferences are able to start back up!

  3. Excellent points! I especially like the ones about respecting your team and accepting feedback. My plan for 2022 includes stepping outside of my comfort zone and exploring new opportunities.

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