Expectations vs. Reality

Most authors who come to Fideli Publishing have great confidence in their books and are sure they’ve penned the next best seller — and that’s a good thing. It's not good when authors have unrealistic expectations for their books that will impact book sales negatively. I’ll give you a few real life examples of writing expectations versus reality:

• An author comes to me with a 10-book series and tells me they’re all ready to go. I take a look at the first manuscript, and within the first three paragraphs I find about 20 errors. It desperately needs editing and proofreading, and I tell the author this. His response was “it’s good enough and I don’t want to spend the extra money.” While I understand the financial side — editing can be expensive — it is an important step that will help earn sales.

• Another author has a book with great images and content that will interest a wide variety of readers. The problem here is that the author has decided he wants an oversized coffee table book with thick glossy pages. He insisted he must have the oversized book printed on fancy paper. He just went from potential worldwide, multi-outlet distribution with a 30% discount to one store availability with restrictions. I don’t predict too many sales for this title, either.

• I’m sorry to tell you this, but writing the book was the easy part. Now, you need to let the world know it’s available — and that’s going to involve a lot of hard work: this is one of the writing expectations versus reality bits that's the worst. Authors can hire experts to market and advertise, but the public wants to hear from the author. This means that you, the author, must actively participate in your book’s marketing. (We’ll discuss this more in another post.)

So, how can you bring your expectations and reality closer together? First, even before you start writing your next book, make a business plan. I’m talking about a detailed business plan, not just publish book, sell book, bank profits! There are all kinds of templates available to help you with this, including this one by Jane Friedman and this one by Jami Gold. You need to treat it like a business: balance creative goals with a businesslike approach to sell your book.

Next, study your market. Find out what successful authors in the same genre are doing, what their covers look like, and what readers expect. Making readers happy (not yourself) should be your goal. Failing to provide what readers expect will most likely earn you some bad reviews!

Finally, begin your writing process while keeping in mind everything you’ve learned researching your genre and reader base. Once your book is written, go over it and over it and over it again to polish it to the best of your ability and then find a good editor and let him or her edit the final draft. (Remember, do not hold on to every word like it’s a precious gem, the editor knows what will make your book better.)

While all of this might seem overwhelming, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Learn about the process and learn which tasks others can accomplish for you and which ones can only be done by you. Remember, Fideli Publishing is here to help you make your book the best it can be and we hope this clarified writing expectations versus reality.

25 Responses

  1. Wonderful website you have here but I was curious if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I'd really like to be a part of community where I can get responses from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Bless you!
    • Fideli
      There are lots of author groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. You should check them out and see which ones fit your needs, then ask to join. If you have publishing questions, don't hesitate to come back!
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      I think I've fixed it. Please let me know if it continues.
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