What You Should Know About Being a Published Author

Manage Your Expectations

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What can a newly published author expect from publishing their book?

There are thrills from being a published author: Your name in print on a book jacket, having your words in print, and the respect of having accomplished publishing your work.

But those who are publishing a book for the first time, or who aspire to, might have unrealistic expectations of the publishing experience. Below are some of the unrealistic expectations that authors might have when starting out and how to deal with them.

You'll Earn Enough Money to Quit your Day Job

Many authors write books because they have a passion for the subject they're writing about or the story they want to tell.

Although some authors earn a living writing books, the vast majority of book writers rely on other sources of income. Even best-selling authors couldn't quit their day jobs right away.

Tom Clancy sold insurance while writing his first military and espionage novels. John Grisham was an attorney who carved out a time to write his first legal thriller, A Time To Kill, in the early hours of the morning before he needed to appear in court. Although his first book had only modest sales, when he made adjustments and penned The Firm, he became a best-selling author. Mystery writer P. D. James wrote quite a number of books while supporting her two children and caring for her mentally ill husband by working as a civil servant. 

Your Finished Work Will Match Your Original Manuscript

Once you sign a contract with a traditional book publisher, you're in partnership to create the book, and you both have input in the production and design of the end product. From trimming the fat of your language (akin to "killing your babies") to altering the logical flow of the chapters, your book editor will have much to say about how your text will look in print. While your editor is there to make the book the best it can be, the two of you may not always agree on what's best for the finished book. If you're going to publish, it's good to be prepared for collaboration and the occasional "creative differences."

Of course, you can self-publish your book, but you'll need to budget enough money and time for the process of writing, editing, book packaging, and jacket designs. Even then, some ebook publishing services have restrictions on content. 

Your Job Is Finished When You Hand in the Manuscript

If you find a publisher for your book, then chances are the publishing house chose you for your marketing and media platform as well as your manuscript. Although publishing houses have marketing staff, the editorial and marketing strategy will involve the author.

Most writers will need to work hard at promoting their own books in order to be successful. Authors may be required to do more promoting than the in-house book marketing and publicity staff. Most marketing staffs are working on several books simultaneously. It's important that authors build a platform through their website and gain a following of readers that love their work.

You Get to Choose and Design Your Book Jacket

The jacket that appears on your book is usually the work of a book art department informed by the opinions of everyone from the editor, the publisher, the marketing and PR departments to the sales representatives.

You'll Get a Book Tour

There's a slight chance you might. But touring authors around the country is very expensive. With so much opportunity for effective internet promotions like virtual book tours, there are fewer and fewer of the non-virtual, several-city variety book tours being offered by publishers.

The Publisher Will Throw You a Book Party

Book parties are expensive, and since they rarely generate sales, it's typically left up to the author even for fairly high-profile authors.

Of course, being an author does come with bragging rights. But you'll have a happier experience if you have realistic expectations at the outset and don't count on quitting your day job, at least, not just yet!