Mistakes: We All Make Them

I recently had a coaching session with an author who finished her manuscript and was anxious to shop it. Like most of the writers I work with, The book took her a year to complete and she’s dying to publish…today.

Writing a book is a long haul, as anyone who’s completed one can attest. Yet often I witness an odd correlation with writers that goes like this: The more time they’ve spent on the book, the more anxious they are to rush the post-completion phases of editing, shopping and publishing, even though none of these arenas can or should be rushed.

If patience is a virtue, then impatience is a flaw or a trap. Where authors are concerned, impatience leads to wishful thinking, which feeds the following five delusions:

1. Though writers have often spent years on a manuscript, they think they should be able to execute their query letter, proposal, and shopping strategies in a matter of months. They don’t take the time to figure out the ins and outs of the publishing world, so they fling themselves out like a bird leaving its nest too soon. Then they wonder why there’s not a soft landing.

2. Realizing they don’t have an author platform to speak of. A writer looks to a third party for help. I’m all for using social media, even blog posts where it makes sense, but you can’t just hire anyone to do it. You need to use your own voice, and who better understands your market? Otherwise you’re putting out a hollow message that’s not about who you are. There’s no such thing as a quick and easy fix online, and you’re required to show up to monitor and handle your own comments.

3. Publishing companies may want a high number of social media followers to prove your fan base. You need and want to be able to back that up with honest numbers, come your publication date or else you’ve led with a false promise, and that will hurt you in the long run.

4. Having spent time in writing classes or with a coach or a developmental editor, the writer decides not to get their book copyedited or proofread. Ouch! I see this all the time. There is nothing more valuable than a copy edit on the manuscript you think is complete. It’s the best investment you will ever make, and it’s worth doing it before you promote the book. Editors are reading countless letters, proposals, and manuscripts every single week, but you have one shot to make your point.

5. No matter how many statistics well-informed writers have seen about the number of books published every year, they feel about their own book much the way they feel about their children—that it’s special, unique, beautiful, and brilliant. The problem is not that these things aren’t true, but that we live in a very educated society with lots of fine writers, so just as is the case with kids, a lot of people’s books are special and unique and beautiful and brilliant. So you’re up against tough competition.

Take this as a reality check. that it’s hard, especially as a debut author, not only to sell books but also to get a book deal, to get serious media attention and harder still, to get reviews. It can happen, but the more you go in with your eyes wide open and with a serious work ethic and patience, the better shot you’ll have at not being disappointed. I sincerely want you to experience a high level of satisfaction and success.

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