As writers, we often set a goal of finishing the story or completing the manuscript. This is a good goal, but you will be setting yourself up for failure if that is your end goal. Finishing the story is only the beginning of your author journey. Next comes packaging and marketing. If you have already figured out what it will take to finish your story and have a good plan of how to get there, here are the next goals you should be setting:
- Are there any important details you want to see in your finished book?
Aside from the basic things that you’ll want to include such as a title page, table of contents, and copyright page, you will also want to think about what illustrations, pictures, or page dividers you may want in your book. If you will be hiring someone to format your book, ensure they have an eye for interior book design. Anyone can take your manuscript, put it into a program, and output an interior design, but it takes a special touch to recognize and know how to adjust those not-so-obvious things like single sentences floating at the top of a page or a chapter that is significantly shorter than the others. Ensure that you write down the things that matter most for your interior layout and cover design so the finished book is something you are excited to sell.
- Where are you going to print your book?
The publishing options in today’s market are much more accessible to authors than they were for writers in the past. Many online platforms give writers the option to upload and distribute their work around the world with little to no cost. This can be magical and treacherous all at the same time. If this is your first-time publishing, be sure you research what the platforms are offering and what other authors are saying about them. Just because one publishing platform is highly recommended by other writers doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best platform for your author goals. If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed with all the options and information, the best option for you might be to hire a publishing coach. (Yes, that was a shameless plug. The right publishing coach will teach you things you weren’t even aware you needed to ask about the industry.)
- How many books do you plan to sell?
I have made the mistake of not setting this goal for myself and you know what Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
- How and where do you plan to sell your books?
If you choose to print through a publishing platform that provides worldwide distribution, this is a great option to start with, but depending on your other goals, this may not be the best solution for you. Some authors choose to sell through platforms only, so they don’t need to think about shipping or taxes. Others choose to sell through their own websites to ensure they receive higher profits.
There is no one right way to sell your book, but there are a lot of wrong ways. For instance, a book cover that you like but your audience doesn’t understand is sure to flop sales. Thinking you are helping your readers out by pricing your book as low as you possibly can, or pricing it higher to recoup your expenses.
First, establish the value of the book. What did you put into the book? Next, compare some prices of similar books on the market (There is always something out there similar; don’t excuse yourself from this exercise because your book is special). Lastly, ensure that you’ll see at the very minimum a 35% profit from your book. To figure this out, take the cost of your author copies, including tax and shipping, multiply that cost by 35%, and then add that number to the cost. Author Copy ($3.00) X 35%= $1.05. Retail price will be $3.00+ $1.05= $4.05. (This equation is only for math purposes; please don’t ever price your book this low.)
- How will you interact with readers?
At the end of the day, readers do not want to buy a product; they want to buy an amazing story. Yes, some will read the description and move forward with a purchase, but most will require more insight. They will want to know about who you are, why you wrote the story, and why they should sit and spend their money and time on your story when there are so many other stories to be read.
I get it, most authors are introverts, but you’ll need to get over yourself and make real-life connections with readers to pique their interest and maintain their loyalty. This could be with a consistent social media presence, engaging email list, or interaction at local events.
I hope these questions have challenged you to think about and write goals beyond the completion of your manuscript. If you are not yet there, then back up and write goals to keep you on track with finishing your manuscript. Either way, goals are important; don’t discredit them or despise them. Instead, embrace goals as an important part of your journey.