Four non-negotiables when you’re writing a book

I recently received an email from someone who had written a business book. He was looking for a publisher. At face value, it seemed as if the subject matter would fit our list of Australian business, leadership, personal finance and motivational books written for the layperson.

So I asked him to send through more details. He was happy to send me the complete manuscript.

I think I am safe recounting this story without the person I am talking about recognising himself. Why? Because this (prospective) author had failed on my first two of four non-negotiables that authors must do if they want their book to be a success.

Here are those non-negotiables if you are planning to publish your business book.

1. You must have an online presence

Even if your manuscript is a dead-set masterpiece, with ‘world’s next best-seller’ written all over it, we won’t published it if the author has no presence online. So as soon as you start planning your book, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile and you are starting to build your professional network. These are the people who will help you create awareness about your book and get people talking about it. You may want to start posting on other social media. Twitter is another good place for business authors to have a presence – Instagram and Facebook are less effective, unless you really think this is where your potential readers hang out.

2. You must be communicating with your online community

LinkedIn is not just a site for people looking for jobs. It’s not enough to create profiles online, you must also be an active member of your new online communities. Start commenting and sharing on other people’s posts – particularly those of other business book authors – and you will find they will start sharing and commenting on yours. This engagement will build over the time you are writing your book and really help when your book is out in the marketplace.

 3. Stick to your deadline

We all know that ‘stuff happens’ and sometimes it is absolutely impossible to complete your manuscript on time. Most publishers will include your book in their monthly new release sheet that goes out to booksellers three months ahead of publication. Booksellers have a certain budget each month and if they like your book they will allocate budget to buy copies to sell in their stores. Some larger stores or chains will include your book in their catalogs or mention it in their EDMs. So image how frustrated they become when customers start to ask for your book or place an order and it won’t be ready for another few weeks (or months!).

As well as frustrating your potential book buyers, late submissions disrupt publishers’ tight production schedules. If you are a week or so late, delivering your ms, your book might get bumped much further down the line.

The only answer is to build in a buffer to your writing schedule and if it looks as if you may be running late, let your publisher know as early as possible.

4. Allocate time to support your book’s release

I often say that writing your book is the easy part! It’s when it is released that the hard work begins. You’ll need to allocate time and energy to work with a publicist and your publisher’s marketing team to make sure as many people as possible get to know about your book. You can write blogs and posts about your book, record videos or start a podcast – this will all help sales and awareness.