Okay, so you’ve written a book (or are just getting started). You need to be asking yourself some serious questions about what would make your book sell. Here are some examples.
Is your book original and fresh?
Has your topic already been done? In fact, has it been done a number of times? Or do you have something new to say? Or a new twist on how to say it? Is your research the latest in the field? Have you told your story with humor or wit, or have you used some other technique that adds interest to the reading?
Will your book be durable?
If your book will be timely if published today, will it still be timely a year from now? In other words, will sales of you book hold up for 12-18 months?
Electronic or print book?
If it’s important to get you book published sooner rather than later, do you understand how to get it done electronically? Are you prepared for the self-publishing process? Or are you willing to wait months and months in order have your book in print?
What’s the competition?
What other similar books will yours run into in the marketplace? On the bookshelf? On online book sellers? How does your book differ from the competition? What would make your work stand out? If your book is fiction, will a reader find a bunch of clichés? A worked-over theme? Trite or corny situations? Stereotype characters? Tired plot devices?
Does your book have integrity?
Is your book well thought out? Are your facts accurate, up-to-date, consistent, and relatively complete? Are all quotations precise? Will you be viewed as a serious professional writer or will you be seen as just someone trying to capitalize on a fad?
What are your credentials for writing this book?
What’s your area of expertise? How are you involved with it? What qualifies you to write on this particular topic? Has someone in this topic field done a peer review of your book, which will give your work more credibility? What writing experience have you had? Do you demonstrate a passion for the topic—and for writing?
How much editing will your book require?
Editors work with authors to perform two major services: 1) help with the overall shape of the book and 2) sometimes suggesting major rewrites or removal of some sections. But most editors don’t see themselves as spending countless hours being a writing teacher, rewriting an author’s work, or essentially becoming an unwitting co-author. It’s not an editor’s job to clean up sloppy or careless writing. Grammar and punctuation were taught in school.
What will it take to turn out a book that will look professional—and will sell? Is yours a good book, or just a hobby project? Is your book pretty much ready to go, or do you need to go back to your desk? Do you know your book’s weak points? Are they major (i.e., structural) or minor (i.e., easily fixed)? Do you envision writing other books? Like this one or different? Will the experience and knowledge you gain on this book help make the next book better?
Will your book make money?
This, of course is the million-dollar question? This is where some real marketing comes in. Is there a need for this book in the marketplace? Will it sell only in book stores or in other outlets as well? What volume and pricing will your book’s market support? Will people spend this amount to buy your book? What platform are you using, or will you use, to promote your work? Will word-of-mouth work in your favor?
The difference between an amateur writer and a professional author is in the expectations of what comes next. It’s one thing to write a book. It’s quite another to successfully sell it. The above questions touch on many aspects of creating a book, beyond just writing it.
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