Why Rose-Colored Publishing Glasses Will Bite You in the AssFeb 01, 2023
You're not a delusional person.
At least not usually.
But you may be one when it comes to publishing.
And that's why I made this episode.
It's based on the book I'm currently writing and it's about the delusions I see first-time authors suffer from. Seriously, publishing seems to inspire more delusions than Hugh Grant movies!
So here's your wake-up call. Don't hit snooze!
And if you want exclusive stories, resources and info about this book as I write it, you can sign up for that on annadbook.com.
Anna: Well, hello there and welcome to my podcast hosted by Anna David, whereI talk to authors and experts about how to launch a best-selling book that will transform your business. And well normally, these are interviews.
Today I am doing a solo episode. And it's going to be a series of solo episodes based on material in the book I'm currently writing. And the madness of that is that the book is based on different interviews I've done in the podcast. So basically, you're getting conglomerations of episodes that have created chapters that I'm now breaking down into episodes.
It's kind of awesome. The book, if you would like to get more information about the book, get advance notice, get bonuses, find out about the latest and greatest techniques when it comes to launching a book, go to www.annadbook.com. And you can sign up for that there.
But this episode is it's something that I definitely talk about a lot. But this is the if you've never heard me before because you've sort of been like putting cotton in your ears and like, I don't want to hear this. Hear me now, rose colored publishing glasses will bite you in the ass. And the reason this needs to be said and resaid and resaid is that publishing somehow seems to inspire more delusions than Hugh Grant romantic comedies.
Everybody thinks they're going to be the exception, and I get it. I thought I was going to be the exception six times; guess what? I never was the exception. You hear things like, "Oh, the average book sells 300 copies. Oh, um, you know, you're probably not gonna become a New York Times bestselling author. By the way, I know. I did become a New York Times bestselling author. And I never stopped talking about it because it was so monumental but publishing was so broken by the time that happened to one of my books that I couldn't even afford the cab fare to the party for it.
So, this notion that "I'm going to write a book, it's going to be a massive bestseller, I'm going to get in the New York Times list, I'm going to be rich" or whatever it is, is delusional. But it's kind of worse than that. Because what I see happening are people who are so convinced that they're going to be the expert that if you try to tell them the truth, like I'm doing now, they get really upset. And I learned this firsthand.
I gathered beta readers for this book. And that is something that Rob Fitzpatrick really recommended in his episode. I had never done it before. And so, I decided to try it with this book. Because essentially, I'm trying everything that I've heard people recommend on this show. I ended up gathering some people who are already on my list, maybe some of you listening, and then other people from Rob Fitzpatrick's site.
Now it was very interesting. Even though the comments were anonymous, it was very easy to tell which were the people that came from my list, and which were the people that came from his site. Because the people that came from his site were universally so delusional about how publishing works. All the people from his site are aspiring authors, who kind of think they're going to be the exception.
And all the people that were from my list, get, they didn't love everything, but they gave really constructive feedback. Now this I actually copied and pasted some of the feedback that I got from these aspiring delusional authors.
Comment one, I feel like you're really selling this book to me hard, I'm starting to lose interest. Then a few paragraphs later, this story is unrelatable. It makes you think you need to be famous; I'd cut it. I talked about someone who took a writing course in order to write her book and this person wrote, I doubt readers will have the luxury to take a 90-day writing course and much less the time to produce a manuscript in 45 days. I don't know how this story helps me. Then, this feels like an article more than a how to. Then this is the first value I found in the book, and it's buried. This feels classless and cold. Then she wrote this book is trite, but I will say later I went back and other people that highlighted the part that she called trite, and she seemed to have deleted her comment by the by.
She wrote me an email saying It was my pleasure to read your book. I've dropped some comments and will continue to do so hope they’re helpful. For the record she spelled there, T H E R E. My point is this, she 100% thought she was helping me. Another person from that site who thought he was helping me said, I wanted to let you know I started to read your book, but I opted out because it started to feel disjointed. I was having a hard time staying with the premise but I'm happy to answer any questions you might ask.
These are people who, again have never written a book but are happy to answer questions I may have for them. What that taught me...it really did hurt me, as you can tell from the fact that I'm still talking about it was months ago. But it really taught me to make it really clear who your book is for.
My book is not for delusional, wannabe writers who think they're going to sell a book to a big publisher and, you know, be mammothly successful in all of those ways. My book is for successful entrepreneurs with very expansive mentalities who understand that a book can help them build authority in a way that nothing else can.
So, I was able to sort of revise the book, not sort of but completely revise the book, and make it clear from the title—from every bit of material I put out there—that, hi, this book is not for you. So, my point is just make sure you know who your book is for. And maybe it'll actually help you to do what I did, which is get beta readers that were completely wrong for the book. But if you're a fragile soul, like me, just get beta readers that are actually the people you want to read your book.
But most importantly, be realistic about this. Don't have those rose colored glasses.
When I first got into publishing, Party Girl my agent sold to HarperCollins in 2005. And it came out in 2007. And this was really the golden era. I mean, there was a far more golden era. But it's a compared to right now, extreme golden era. And publishing—Sex in the City—was still a thing. And publishers and writers were very glamorous. And they went to lunch at this place called Michaels. And you got money when your book was optioned.
And I was a journalist. And so, I got book deals because there was no social media. So, the way a platform was decreed was if you had a name as a journalist, and I did at the time. But it was not what it appeared on the outside. And also, I feel like it really was a good time. 2005. And by the time I sold my next book came out, which was 2009, it had become a bad time.
But the thing is, I don't think this is bad news. I think this is actually great news, because the gatekeepers have left the building. For all that people rail against Amazon and what it's done to our society while we happily accept getting slippers that we don't need delivered later this afternoon...It it has done wonders for writers and entrepreneurs everywhere, because it has given us this ability to declare ourselves the chosen one and publish our books.
While you could write and publish a book by the end of this episode, which is going to be very short, you shouldn't do that you should do it at the very highest level. As I often say, Amazon forgives, but it doesn't forget. So, if you put your book out there, and it is not what you want it to be, you can put it to draft and it will just show as unavailable. But you know, if you're someone like me, you maybe put out a book with a title that's really embarrassing to you. Reach out to me on social media and I will tell you the title of that book and why it's so embarrassing. And the fact that it won't go away really, really sucks.
So don't do that. But know that you you should hire the best experts to help you but you don't need to submit your book over and over and over again to different agents or wait to hear if you're good enough and then have them submit to publishers to wait to hear if you're good enough and then have it released two years later.
You can decide you're good enough. There is nothing that a big publisher can do that you can't do for yourself by hiring people. I have my books that I've published myself in bookstores while my HarperCollins published books are not. I got on Good Morning America, with a book I published myself, I could not for my HarperCollins published books.
So, I explain this to more people than I can count. And then I often get back this Yeah, but it'll be different for me because I'm gonna sell a million copies, I don't really need to listen to this shit look back. And they compare themselves to the exception and not the rule.
And I see a few things happen. One, they feel bitterly disappointed when their book comes out. And they never write another book. Two, they convince themselves they feel good about the situation and never admit to anyone that it didn't go the way they wanted it to but it's really obvious. Three, they write more books thinking the next one will be the ticket. That's what I did, six times. And four, they wise up, see that a book is the best tool that exists for establishing them as an expert, and commit to doing a book that will enhance their authority.
So, I say, if you are lucky enough to hear this, before you have to go through that or what I went through with my six books, you can do it right the first time. You can figure out, who do I serve? Now, if you're saying, well, I'm not an authority on anything, I highly, highly doubt that. Not only do studies show that podcast listeners are incredibly well educated and intelligent, but I would bet you do something that you do very well. And if you can build a business around that and write a book that shows people both how to do it and shows other people that they can hire you to do it for them, you can have an incredibly successful career and actually be paid what you're worth.
Those who say that it's crass, as as my beta reader said, to talk about making money from a book...I get that there are people who have an issue with combining art and commerce, but I have an issue with relegating authors to being paid pennies. I think you should be paid well. But I also know that unless you're Glennon Doyle and the sun seems to shine on you, despite obvious reasons why, you're going to need a business to back it up.
So that's a my schpiel if you would like more hard to hear lessons, but actual tips and techniques that can make this happen for you, definitely go sign up to get advanced notification about all things related to my book, which by the way, is the same title as this podcast, On Good Authority, go to www.annadbook.com. So that's it for this week. I'll talk to you next.
The Business of Being a Writer with Jane Friedman
What NY Times Bestselling Author Jennifer K. Armstrong Learned About Launches
Should I Give Up on Traditional Publishing?
How to Write a Book Everyone Recommends with Rob Fitzpatrick