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5 Steps to Being a Successful Author

Guidelines for Editing Non-Fiction Books

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Selecting Font Size and Type

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5 Steps To Success As An Author


After researching many articles written by publishers and literary agents I have found 5 steps that seem to be commonly preached as the critical steps to success as an author.


1. Develop The Book Concept

Understand the Market - it may be the greatest looking, most perfectly written book on Amazon.com, but if there is no market, there are no sales. You MUST fully understand the needs of your future readers.

Identify book opportunities - News has a lifecycle. It appears in press, the public considers it for a while then if it considered of value it appears in higher media such as Time, Newsweek, and Television with comments from analysts, consultants and other experts. Eventually it appears in book format. Understand this cycle and learn to identify it, and you will identify book opportunities. This whole cycle can take 2 years, and considering that most books take 6-12 months to write you need to spot new cycles quickly.

Market Research - Once you identify a potential good seller - research it thoroughly. Read similar books to identify what has already been written. During each book, ideas will form as to how your book will be different and better - Jot these down at the time, it is amazing how quickly one can forget when you are on to the next book.

Field Test - Compile a set of statements and questions on the subject and discuss them with your friends and associates. Find out their opinions on both the subject and your views on the subject. Keep an open mind - you learn more from listening to their voices than your own.

Take a Break - let the idea percolate and evolve into its own persona. If there is a real inspiration there, it will become evident on its own. If there is not - your interest is as about as high as that of the market.


2 Write the First Draft

Write passionately, clearly, and concisely. Write in an appropriate tone for the audience. The writing style and format has a big impact on the words, just as body language has on the spoken word. Attend a writing seminar - especially if you are writing nonfiction. Your goal is to get your message across as clearly as possible to the greatest number of people.


3. Commit Whatever it Takes to Get It Finished

Finishing a book takes enormous discipline - especially if you are writing a complex non-fiction. Getting ideas organized in a logical flow takes time and many hours of edits. I found that 30 percent of the time was on the first collation of ideas etc and the rest was on structuring the flow, editing for grammar, then editing for format.


4. Set Realistic Expectations on Getting Published

The Publishing industry is a personality of its own. Make the choice as to whether:

  1. You use an agent to find you a publisher
  2. Find a publisher yourself
  3. Self Publish

With a publisher publishing tens of thousands of books a year - ending up ont the NY Times best seller list or on Oprah is a big ask. Be positive, but realistic.

Remember - the publishers get your books into the stores, but you must market your book to the buyers, get interviews and reviews.

Publishers only print and distribute books - they very, very rarely market.


5. Find a Good Agent

Why try to do everyones job. Find a highly qualified literary agent who has sold and is currently selling books like yours. There is generally enough profit for everyone - and if this is your first book, you can learn and earn a lot more under a trusted guide.

An agent generally gets 15% of royalties earned.

The publishers commission varies - so the better the agent, the better the deal you are likely to get.

Written by Gail La Grouw: Corporate consultant, speaker and author of "The Logical Organization: A Strategic Guide to Driving Corporate Performance Using Business Intelligence. Find out more about decision making in The Logical Organization.

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