Before You Publish: Set Goals

I’d like to offer a brief series of posts on things to do before trying to publish a book…

When you begin to seriously consider publishing a book your first step will be identifying your goals.

Are you hoping to write full time? Are you looking to add some credentials to your current career? Do you have one particular idea that is so important you want to publish it?

How you answer these questions will determine your next step.

Publishing a book requires a tremendous amount of time and planning. It is rarely as simple as pounding out a book and shipping it off to a publisher who then takes care of everything for you, mailing a fat royalty check each quarter.

You don’t write to become rich—it rarely happens.

In addition, if your goal is to merely share information with a wide audience, there are a lot of other avenues available today that may in fact be more effective in drawing a larger number of readers to your work. One poet I spoke with said he has reached thousands more readers through his blog than through his book. While his book lends him greater credibility in some circles, the simple act of sharing his work can be accomplished effectively outside of book publishing.

Keep in mind that as the economy contracts, so have publishers, editorial staffs, book acquisitions, and marketing dollars. The competition is a bit more fierce and the desire of publishers to stick with trusted names is greater than ever.

All that to say, it is still very possible to publish today, and with smaller presses and self-publishing options there is no reason why you can’t one day hold a bound copy of your work in hand. Nevertheless, before setting out into the challenging world of publishing, be sure to identify your goals and make sure that publishing a book will be the best way to accomplish them.

I’ll continue this series next week with a few more things to consider before you publish.