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by Patricia Fry

5 Reasons That Publishing Might Be a BAD Idea
By Patricia Fry

Are you thinking about publishing a book? You should know that not every written work is suitable for publication. And not every writer should become a published author.

How do you know when publishing is a bad idea? When one or all of the following applies to your project:

  1. Your book doesn't have an audience. It is imperative that you write the right book for the right audience. How do you know if there is an audience for your book? Start by writing a book proposal. A well-organized, well-researched book proposal will reveal whether your book will actually have an audience and who that audience is. If you attempt to spoon-feed your message to an audience who doesn't want it, your book will fail. A case in point is the author who wants to force his unpopular political opinions on others through his book or the former alcoholic who writes a book designed to convince others to quit drinking, for example.

    Through the process of writing a book proposal, you might decide to change your approach to the topic in order to attract a large enough audience to warrant publishing the book at all.
  2. The competition for a book on your topic is too stiff. You may already know that your book has a huge audience. Now you must evaluate the competition. Are there other books like yours already on the market? How many? Are they selling? And here's an important question: What makes your book different from the others? What does your book offer that the others don't? Is this difference something that your target audience wants? If you plan to write a book on dieting, for example, you'd better make sure that you can provide a focus, slant and benefits that will attract those readers who have probably already read every diet book already on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.
  3. You don't understand anything about the publishing industry. You wouldn't open a retail store related to a product that you know nothing about. You wouldn't start a business featuring a service you cannot perform. Why would you blindly enter into the business of publishing? And folks, publishing is a business and your book is a product. Take time before you write that book-before you decide to become a published author-to study the publishing industry. How? Read my book, "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book." Join publishing organizations such as SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network), PMA and SPAN. Subscribe to and read several publishing/writing-related newsletters and journals. [Author's Note: Right Way has been retired. See my most recent books in the left column of this page.]  
  4. You don't know your responsibilities as a published author. Along with authorship come certain responsibilities. As mentioned above, you must produce a viable product. You need to know something about the industry, your choices and the consequences of your decisions. And you must take responsibility for making the right choices. Your responsibilities also include promotion.
  5. You don't have the time or desire to promote this book. You've probably heard it before-whether you land a traditional royalty publisher, self-publish (establish your own publishing company) or hire a fee-based POD publishing company, you are responsible for promoting your book. I hear from authors occasionally who say, "I am eager to produce my book-it must be published this year (or this month or this week)-but I don't have time to promote it right away." I say to them, "Then it is the wrong time to publish the book." If you want to produce a book that is wildly or even mildly successful, you really must schedule time-lots of time-to promote it.

Perhaps you can make publishing a good idea for your proposed book by changing some of the negatives listed above. In other words:

· Study the publishing industry.
· Learn what your choices are and the consequences of your decisions.
· Write a book proposal so that you know you are writing the right book for the right audience.
· Understand your responsibilities as a published author and take them seriously.
· Schedule plenty of time to promote your book.

Patricia Fry is a full-time writer and the author of 35 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.

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