How hard is it to publish your first book?

Weekday Wisdom Episode 59

How hard is it to get your first book published? I have two answers to that question!

How hard is it to publish your first book?

In today’s Weekday Wisdom, I’m going to be answering another question from that AMAfeed I told you about. Today’s question is from V?n, who asks:

“How difficult or challenging was it to get your first book published?”

That’s a layered question. On the surface, she’s asking me, how hard was it for me to get my first book published? And honestly, once the book was written, it really wasn’t all that hard.

I published my first book way back in 2007. Lulu had pretty much just come out and they were charging a hundred dollars for you to get an ISBN and self-publish. So I wrote this book called Bonkers for Bundt Cakes.

I designed it myself. I did the cover. You can tell it’s my first book. It looks homemade. Good content, but it doesn’t look like good content.

So, I paid the hundred dollars, and lo and behold I made that money back within six months because it turns out that Bundt cakes are really popular. I really lucked out on my first book.

Another layer to this question is, how difficult is it for anyone to get their first book published?

There are different ways it can be challenging or easy. The first hurdle that you need to overcome in getting your first book published is writing it. That may sound condescending but it’s so true. So many people struggle with just getting their words on paper, or completing their book project. So the first hurdle is getting it written.

It doesn’t have to be hard. It really depends on the book you’re writing and the goal you have for it. So it could be something that’s very simple.

It took me a weekend to write Home Sweet Home Page, but that’s because it was a Write a Book in a Weekend project and I had a very clear idea going into the weekend of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to say, and I just wrote it.

Then there is my book 57 Secrets for Branding Yourself Online, which that was a mental hurdle. Once I started writing, again, it was very easy to write it.

And then, of course, there’s the book I’m working on now, Public Speaking Super Powers, which I’ve been working on since 2010. So I’ve been working on for eight years and that has had completely new challenges because it’s a very different project. I’ve been much more ambitious and have a much bigger vision for this book. I’ve interviewed 85+ speakers. I had to transcribe all those interviews. I had to digest the information in those interviews. And then write the book.

So, writing the book is the first hurdle. The second hurdle is getting it published.

Once upon a time, you had two options:

  1. You went with a traditional publisher or
  2. You went to a vanity press.

Now you have way more options. You can go to a big-time publisher. You can go to a boutique publisher. You can go to a vanity press. You can go to a Print-On-Demand (POD) publisher. And there are publishers that are kind of, like chimeras. They are hybrids of a traditional, POD and vanity publishing.

You have to decide which one of these myriad options is right for you. And usually that comes down to:

  • How much money do you have?
  • How much time do you have?
  • What is your goal with that book?

You need to determine which option will serve your goal and fit within your budget.

Honestly, these days, if you just want to get it published and you’re not as concerned with how well it gets marketed, POD publishing is your easiest option. In fact, you could probably just put it on Kindle. That takes maybe a couple of hours of your time.

So, how hard is it to get your first book published? It’s kind of how hard do you make it? Are you really ambitious and making a really tough book to write? Or are you doing something that is more simple? And how are you getting it published? Are you having a big-time publisher publish it?

A quick note about traditiona publishers: Going that route can take a lot of effort. A friend of mine went through three publishers before she finally found the one that ended up being her publisher. And it was great that she actually ended up declining the first two publisher’s offers, because the third publisher was awesome and gave her a lot of distribution.

That said, not everyone can get published by a big-time publisher, especially with their first book. Publishers are really skittish and they are very finicky about who they publish.

Bottom line, Van: It all depends on what your goals are and how disciplined and committed you are to this project. And, to some small degree, how much money you’ve got in your wallet that you can invest in this project.

You don’t have to invest money. You can do it guerrilla style and have some success. Most of my books were self-published. And I’ve had some fairly good success. I’m not J.K. Rowling or anything, but I’ve met the goals that I wanted with those books. And I had no up-front fees other than an editor. (That’s another cost that you really need to invest in. However, that is another episode altogether.)

Remember this:
Think outside that box.
Spread your wings and fly.
Because you — yes, you — are capable of more than you know.

Please post a comment belowIf you’d like this video, please go find it on YouTube and like it. Also, if you could put a comment on my blog below, letting me know what you think, that would be awesome. And of course, if you’ve got a question, don’t hesitate to send it to me and I will answer it in an upcoming video. I really want the Weekday Wisdom to be something that you value and look forward to watching.

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About the author

Carma Spence is an international best selling author and award-winning speaker who helps women, introverts and shy people vanquish Mind Goblins, unleash their content creation superpowers and communicate their message with confidence so that they can create meaningful and fulfilling legacies.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.