Lessons Learned …


bad English sign


Don’t take yourself too seriously. Or else you end up looking like a dick. Nobody cares. Really. Unless you sell 50 gazillion books. Then its all about the herd. And the herd really cares. They want to know who you’re shagging and what you eat for breakfast and all that blah, blah, blah stuff.

Take yourself seriously. I don’t mean, you should wear cravats and grow a huge forehead. I’m talking – know your business – hone your craft – put the work in.

William Goldman the director of Princess Bride, famously said, nobody knows nothing. He was of course talking about the movie industry – but he could have been talking about publishing. Nobody really knows what is going to work. It’s all a best guess scenario. You just need to write the best book you can.

Don’t react to bad reviews – or you will end up looking like a dick. Wearing sour grapes all over your face is not a good look. Everybody gets them. To Kill A Mocking Bird has over 22,000 1 star reviews on Goodreads. That put my one or two into perspective. Be the duck’s back and let the review be the water. IF there’s something you can learn from the review, assimilate that. Otherwise, accept it and move on.

Make your local bookseller your new best friend – don’t go in and demand they stock your book. (And the times that happens is legion.) You’re just going to piss them off. Can you make yourself an asset to their business? Offer to sign stock – chat about the weather – talk about  books you’ve read and enjoyed – buy some books – promote them on social media.

You are in a partnership with your publisher. Gone are the days when you can sign the deal, sign a few books for readers and then sit back and wait for the sales to come in. You need to put yourself out and about.

Whoever coined the phrase – never judge a book by its cover – gets ignored on a daily basis. Covers REALLY matter. The End. So, if your intended route to readers is self-publishing DO NOT stint on the cover. You get one chance to attract the reader’s eye. Don’t mess it up.

Here’s a link with some hilariously bad examples – Kindle Cover Disasters . You’re welcome.

Just because you can – doesn’t mean you should. I’m talking about social networking – and talking about yourself all the time. Would you go to a party and do that? Would you walk into the middle of the room and shout BUY MY BOOK? No, didn’t think so. Yet, that’s what people do on social networking all the time. Engage with people. It’s all about relationships. Follow the 80/20 rule. That’s 80% chat and blethers – 20% promotional. (And some commentators think that should be nearer to 90/10.) And most important of all, remember you are a business, you are your own brand. Don’t be a dick.

What do you think? Have you learned an important lesson you’d like to share?


2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned …

  1. David Manderson

    Everything about this rings several bells. The trouble is, I wish I’d known what not to do before I did them.

    Don’t take yourself seriously. Yep. It’s about the work, not you.

    Take yourself seriously. Uh-huh. If you don’t respect the business, it won’t respect you.

    Don’t look like a dick. Yeah. You think you know stuff…Are you sure? Are you totally certain? No doubts at all? If so, you’re in trouble.

    One thing I’d add: you can’t do it unless you commit to it. You can’t make it work unless you free up time to do it. I’ve tried to do it without the time and failed.

    So I’m going to workshops, doing a bit of networking and some social media (but not too much) again.

    And going part-time in the day-job plus writing as hard as I can.

    We’ll see if it works!

    Thanks Michael, for the wise words.

  2. Vikki

    Thanks for the tips, Michael. The promotional part of the writers life is an area where I know I have much to learn! And thanks for the kindle cover link -gave me a good laugh- some of them are right howlers:)


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