This guest post was provided by Brooke Warner, She Writes Press publisher and author of Green-Light Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing.
The work I’ve been doing in the book publishing industry for the past four-plus years as the publisher of She Writes Press, and now SparkPress, has been called trailblazing. These two hybrid presses have earned this label, too, for being forward-thinking, and by looking for solutions and opportunities where our traditional counterparts see complications and barriers. The authors who publish with us identify with this term, too, many of them feeling as if they’ve found an oasis in the publishing world because we encourage creative expression, but demand high standards. To be a trailblazing author, however, has nothing to do with what imprint you publish with and everything to do with your willingness to embrace the adventure ahead of you with an open and curious mind. Here are ten ways you can blaze your own trail:
1. Opt in, not out
Decide how long you’re going to wait for the industry to tell you your book is worthy to be published, and if it doesn’t happen within a specific timeline, give yourself permission to green-light your own work—and then never look back.
2. Never apologize
Trailblazing authors are confident in their work and its merits, and despite the inevitable crises all author face, they don’t qualify or diss or diminish their choices or their publishing path.
3. Relish in the creative control, within reason
The very definition of the word trailblazer implies that you’re forging new grounds, and with this comes a certain amount of control and freedom, which should be embraced, but not to the detriment of your book project (ie, seek out professional advice and opinions).
4. Adhere to industry standards
Meet all the measures the industry expects—from developmental editing to copyediting to proofreading, cover and interior design, and everything in between—so that you’re work will be praised for its quality and not judged for what it’s lacking.
5. Learn the lingo
Learn everything you can about publishing and how it works so you know how to talk to industry people and so that you understand what matters about your book to them—since this is what will open the doors of opportunity.
6. Engage your readership
Regardless of your relationship with social media, discover what you love to talk about and engage a conversation on that topic or topics online so you begin to develop a presence and a rapport—central tenets for any author hoping to have a lasting impact.
7. Think outside the sales box
When it comes to selling your book, take the bull by the horns and don’t be afraid to sell directly, to offer deep discounts to people who might buy in bulk, and to approach like-minded or issue-driven organizations with a sales pitch in mind—despite how far out of your comfort zone this may take you.
8. Insist that books speak for themselves
Trailblazing authors advocate for their books when necessary in a book publishing environment that’s still very black and white, understanding that the ultimate goal for all authors everywhere is that the book rest on its merits and its merits alone.
9. Find your tribe and becomea contributing member
Your people are out there, and it’s your responsibility to find them, befriend them, and champion them. Trailblazing authors need each other, and we stick together.
10. Pay it forward
Champion other authors by giving advice, mentoring where appropriate, buying their books, and reviewing their work—remembering that generosity is the new currency and what goes around comes around.