I was completely impressed with how many of you chimed in on Friday’s post on You: The Marketing Machine. You eloquently expressed your enthusiasm, your dread, and/or your ambivalence about the need to market your own book.
One of the themes that cropped up frequently was the romantic fantasy of the writer as a loner, holed up in his/her writing cave, emerging to deliver a masterpiece to the publisher, then retreating once again to remain forever invisible while the book took care of selling itself. (I completely relate to this, by the way.)
It got me to thinking about one of the truths of publishing that doesn’t seem to be addressed or acknowledged often enough:
Publishing is a collaborative art.
It’s like the whole world conspires to persist in the fantasy of a book as the product of a single brilliant individual. I think we all love this fantasy, the readers most of all. Even those of us involved in the business of creating books can succumb to it once in awhile.
It’s true that the book is primarily the product of you, the author. But in general, I’d say that most books end up to be roughly 75% the author, 25% everyone else involved in bringing the book to market.
For some authors, the percentages may be different. For self-published authors, the percentages don’t apply because you’re making the intentional decision to decline collaboration and instead, do it mostly yourself. But for most, this is probably about right.
Yes, you may spend months or years of your life digging that book up from deep down inside you, and wrestling it to the page. You may have birthed it in pain and agony. You’ve given it your all.
But when you’re done with it:
→ An editor will edit it.
→ A copyeditor will copyedit.
→ A proofreader will proofread.
→ A designer will design and typeset the interior.
→ Another designer will create a cover.
→ A marketing team will consider your title and perhaps give you a new one.
→ A sales team will pitch it to buyers.
→ A printing company will print your book.
→ Bookstores will sell your book.
You get the picture. By the time your book arrives in the hands of a consumer, dozens of people have played an important role in getting it there.
You’re the one who gets the ball rolling. You’re the most important part of this collaborative team. Without you, no one else on the team has a job.
Just remember the collaborative nature of this art, this business. Don’t get too used to the fantasy of the solo artist in a cave, toiling alone. If that’s the life you want, self-publishing is a terrific option for you. (But you’ll still have to emerge from your cave to market and sell.)
→ Have you thought about the collaborative nature of publishing a book? Are you okay with it?