I have intentionally added the word ‘published’ to the title of this article. I wish for all the aspiring authors to not only write but also get published. As a published author, I often get asked how to be an author so I take this opportunity to share everything I learned about publishing over the last decade. I believe writing is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with your creative faculties. Even as I write these lines, I am excited because I have no ideas of the words which will follow. A published book is the best example that the intangible becomes tangible if you are willing to invest time.
Believe that you can be an author: Writing a book is definitely a long term effort. No matter how much impressive they sound but never sign up for workshops that offer to make you a published author in a month. Try to deliver a baby in month and chances are high it will be healthy of fully developed. There might be few exceptions but generally I believe that it takes a minimum of one year to write a good book. If you can stay excited about a particular topic for one year, then chances are high that your readers will also stay excited about the message. Never give what I call the shut commands to your brain. I have heard people say funny things like everybody cannot be an author thus they cannot be an author. True, everybody cannot be an author but you can be one if you are willing to do the work it takes. Develop a strong belief that one day you will be an author and there would be readers who will like to read your work.
Longevity of the message: One of the best way to sustain your interest in writing is to find a message that you really believe in. If you have read any of my books, you will realize that the underlying message of my books is that self-discipline coupled with peak-performance strategies can create magic in your life. I love it when people pursue their passion, feel grateful, and are willing to work on their limiting beliefs. What will the message of your book? How will it add some value to the life of the readers? The value can be learning, entertainment, humour or peace or anything. The relevance of your message will determine its longevity, which will in turn, determine the shelf life your book. Some books are revered by the readers as classics or cult-books and they continue to influence the readers even when the author who wrote them are no longer around. Books by Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill influenced a fourteen year old me to be an inspirational speaker and author in life. Never underestimate the power of a sincere message passed on in the form of book.
Genre of writing: Decide upon the genre of writing you are going to pursue.Once you know the core of your message, find out how you would like to share it. Will you share in the form of a fictional story with multiple characters or will it be in the form of non-fiction narrative or both. Fiction and non-fiction are not superior to each other. It is just that book market is flooded with mindless variants of these genres of writing. As an author only advice I will give you is write something that appeals to the minds and hearts of the readers, not just the senses and dark fantasies of the readers.
Always be original: Get inspired by the works of other authors but never imitate them. Imitation in the world of publishing is the kiss of death. It is funny that readers or media will not see your tens of thousands originally written words but they will focus on ten words you might have intentionally copied from somewhere. Play safe and leave no scope for plagiarism to tarnish your years of hard work. I know sometimes mistakes happen unintentionally too but be very cautious and clear your mind of inspired words and thoughts unless you can express them in your own style. Read the books by great authors but eventually discover your own style.
Finish what you start: I know a lot of sincere people who dreamt of being an author but never finished their manuscripts. Let me make it every clear, unless you are a famous personality already no publishing house will express a lot of interest in your work till it is fully complete or nearing completion. All authors experience a plateaued thinking or writer’s cramp once a while when they feel stuck, but I advise you to take a break but never quit.Complete your manuscript first and then worry about potential readership or your desire to get published with a particular reputed publishing house.
Work on creating your brand: Author’s brand is the engine that determines how far the book will travel. There is a market for every kind of book because different books appeal to different tribes of readers. However, in order to find your tribe or readership you will need the magnetic pull called author’s personal brand. A time will come when your work will make you famous but during the initial period you have to make your work famous. It is like bringing a baby into this world and raising it till it becomes independent.
Have a plan for your book: If you have written a book with a long shelf-life and not based on a time bound event, then I recommend you to have a written plan for your book. You must have a clear idea on the value proposition of the book, potential target readership, and the ways in which you plan to promote your book both online and offline. As I mentioned books need a push from the author. Your immediate and long term plan will eventually give you the conviction to approach a publishing house. This topic in itself deserves a separate write-up and I will write an article soon on best strategies to promote your book but till that time you finish your manuscript.
Get published: A publishing house looks for creativity in your work but it also looks for the future commercials. You need to show the impact your book is going to make and how it will be a good investment for the time and money being put by the publishing house. They are always keen to know your commitment and competence to promote your work. You will face a lot of rejections when you approach publishing houses for the first time. Be smart and never beg. Negotiate from the position of equals and make it a win-win deal. I always recommend to find someone you know in the publishing industry to connect you with the commissioning editors of the various publishing houses. If you do not know then start by asking the question that how can you know them? People find it difficult to reject people they know, so make sure you know the right decision makers. Do not give up if your dream publishing house rejects you, it is part of the struggle. Also at the same time make sure you have searched the credibility of the publishing house you eventually settle for. It is better to get self-published rather than working with a publishing company
Believe in the power of your message and finish your work. You may find it hard to imagine but trust me when you become old, the most satisfying things about your life would be the things you created and the lives you nurtured. Your book will definitely will be one of your most beautiful creations and only you can write your story.