Congratulations, you're published! But what exactly does it mean to be "published"? Besides the fact that your work is finally in print and your college alumni has asked to interview you for their newsletter it also means fame and fortune, right? Well, ok, maybe not on the level of J. K. Rowling, but at the very least you can expect a call from Oprah, right? I hate to be the one to break it to you but you're probably not even on her radar screen. The truth about publishing is really stranger than fiction and the truth is: getting published is only half the battle. The other half is to keep your reality check in balance so it doesn't bounce.

While publishing is all about creative expression, it's also about business and it's those business savvy authors who will succeed in the end. Now you don't have to be an MBA to be a keen business person, you simply have to understand that the choices you make relative to your books future should be based on strategies that will enhance sales not just drain your pocketbook. So, how do you do this? First, take a long, hard look at your reader.

At Author Marketing Experts, we always create a reader profile for each book we promote. This reader profile will tell us where to find buyers for the books we represent. Taking this first step helps us sort through our choices when it comes to book promotion and make decisions on behalf of our authors that are sound and will help leverage sales.


There are times when it's a waste of resources to do a nationwide radio or TV promotion. In fact, some of our programs don't include any outreach to broadcast media. Why? Because as alluring as it might seem to appear on the Today Show, what's the point if your audience doesn't watch morning TV? And, if your audience isn't watching this show, the chances are slim they'll even consider you anyway. What? More rejection? Who needs it!

As you embark on or continue your campaign, ask yourself a few tough questions. First, what's your ultimate goal for this book? If it's just to give away at family reunions, that's great! But then you'll probably want to nix any marketing. If your book is an arm of your business and you have speaking engagements lined up through the end of the year. You probably don't need to spend a lot on marketing since most of your sales will come from your speaking engagements (i.e. back of the room sales). On the other hand, if you wrote this book to grow your business or to leverage your credibility then you will probably want to dial yourself into your industry through enhanced media exposure.

For fiction authors this area becomes a little tricky. First, you need to determine your long term goals. By long term we mean: do you want to stay in this business or was this book just "something you wanted to do." If it's a hobby, then treat it as such but if this is going to be your career, then you need to keep your message out there on a continual basis, through venues such as author events, talks, signings, print and broadcast media.

Make sure the choices you make, make sense for your book and aren't just made because you've always dreamt of being on Oprah. I've known authors lured into inappropriate marketing plans by big, flashy names and promises of stardom, wasting thousands of valuable marketing dollars and heading in a direction that wasn't right for them. If you're serious about your work, ready to let go of your muse and face the task at hand with some business savvy, then you're really ready to get published. Below are some guidelines that will help further your success!

1) Reader profile: create one of these at the beginning of your marketing campaign and keep refining it as you move through the process. Refine and redefine who and where your audience is and how to get to them.

2) Time commitment: determine what you can and can't reasonably do. If you have a full time job it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to commit yourself to forty hours of marketing a week unless your boss is on vacation.

3) Investment: how much are you willing to invest in your future? Are you willing to invest money without seeing much in return knowing that you are building a foundation or do you want to see immediate monetary results? Most authors don't see a return on their investment for a year or more. Are you committed enough to yourself or your project to keep this investment going?

4) Reality check: what's realistic for the industry you're in? Are you latching onto a fad or something with more longevity? Are you getting into a brand new market that will require lots of reader education? Or are you trying to go mainstream with a non-mainstream topic? While this is an admirable goal, it can be like swimming upstream.

5) Budget: while we encourage authors to invest in their future, we've also seen a number of people go into heavy debt, quit their jobs and even sell their homes just to promote their book. While that kind of dedication is certainly admirable, remember that although you have the potential to make a great deal of money it's not going to be overnight. The lure here is of course that "If I stick with it, this next sale will make me famous." Well, maybe or maybe not. If you've been plugging away for a while without any significant success get a professional to give you some honest, constructive feedback about your plan, your market, and your book. It might be that a poorly designed cover is the reason you're not making sales, or a topic that's fallen off of the public's radar screen. In the meantime as you're waiting to hit the big time you'll still need a place to sleep and Uncle Vinnie's couch will get old real quick.

6) Burnout: we hear this term often, even to the point of being overused. What we're really talking about here is author burnout. We've found that the average author only markets their book for ninety days. That means ninety days of day and night marketing, radio interviews at 3 am and a book signing every weekend. On day ninety-one they are so tired, so discouraged and so broke they quit. You can avoid this by giving yourself realistic goals and a realistic timeframe in which to complete them. There's nothing in the world like seeing your book in print. If approached realistically, objectively and with sound business sense, it can be one of the most exciting times in your life.

I am often asked "Do you know of a publisher who would be interested in my book?" There's no easy way to answer this question. You see, according to the PMA Newsletter, there are over 86,000 publishers in existence. It would be impossible to know what each one is looking for at any given time. However you do know that you're not going to submit your manuscript or book proposal to 86,000 publishers. It would be a waste of your time and money. To improve your chances in the submission process, you have to do your homework. Here are a few tips so your research will be most effective:

Publishing Houses: Get the Facts

Can you submit your manuscript to more than one place at a time? Depends on where you're sending it. Unfortunately, each publishing house has its own set of rules for reviewing a manuscript that will have multiple submissions. You have to find out what those rules are. You can check out the Writer's Market, published by Writer's Digest. It's an excellent source for publisher's guidelines. So is the website, Literary Marketplace.

While reviewing these resources you should also note what kind of material the company publishes and what kinds of manuscripts and proposals they would like to see. Another way to get more specific information on this topic is to go to your local bookstore and look at books similar to yours. Note the publisher as well as the agent and editor who handled the book (they're usually mentioned in the acknowledgments). Granted, a publisher might turn your manuscript down if they feel they've "been there, done that", but on the other hand if the company has had success with the subject matter they may be scouring the landscape to find more of the same!

Looking for an Agent

Your research may tell you that the publishers who seem right for you don't accept unsolicited manuscripts. That means you'll need an agent so you'll have to start your submission process with literary agencies. If that's the case, the Guide to Literary Agents is a great place to begin your search. Writer's Digest publishes this hefty tome listing of non-fee charging agents.

All of the agents listed in the guide adhere to the ethical guides established by the Association of Author's Representatives (AAR). Members of AAR are forbidden from charging fees. So in one book you get the security of knowing the agent you're dealing with is on the level, plus you get a full understanding of what material the agent represents. That means you won't be sending your manuscript out on a fruitless--and costly mission.

Manuscript Mechanics

Don't get too caught up in the specifics of what your manuscript should look like. Your research will tell you if the agent or publisher wants your manuscript a certain way, but for the most part as long as it's double-spaced and printed with a clear, easy-to-read 12-point font such as Courier or Arial you should be fine. Put your name, book title and page numbers on each page and--this is key--don't staple anything. Leaving the pages loose make it easy for the recipient to make copies. This is necessary because usually more than one person will be reading your work.

One note: These days more and more agencies and publishing houses are accepting electronic submissions. Find out if this is the case for your targets. You can save yourself some money and a trip to the post office!

The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Banish all fear. I know that's easier said than done, but look at it this way. If writing is something you really want to do, then manuscript submissions will become a regular part of your life. You don't want to go through your days and nights in a constant state of submission angst! It makes me feel tired just to think of what that would be like!

Instead put yourself in the mindset of being a writer and a businessperson. Your writing is your product. You will put out the best product possible. Know that the bulk of your rejections will have nothing to do with the quality of your product so don't take it personally. You move on to the next prospect with the same positive attitude that the next one may be the right one. Know that writing is part of your work. Being afraid isn't.