Reader Mailbag: Questions I Hear as an Author

People seem fascinated by authors. I don’t say this to puff up my own profile. I recall feeling the same way as a reader before publishing my first book.

Looking at it from the outside, it does seem a daunting endeavor — writing many thousands of words. Shaping them into a coherent flow. Dividing the content into sensible chapters. Soliciting feedback from respected colleagues. Going through the publishing process. Promoting the book once it’s on bookshelves.

I thought I’d offer a peek behind the curtain by answering some of the questions that come my way. You may wonder about other aspects. If so, feel free to get in touch. I enjoy hearing from readers.

How did you write your new book, Reporters Don’t Hate You, so quick?

First, a bit of background. I had initially planned to release a book on another communications-related topic this year. Things went topsy turvy when the coronavirus pandemic struck. March and April were to be the months for interviews with experts. Suddenly, no one had time or inclination for it. So there were three options:

  1. Try to swim against the tide and muscle through with the best information I could get knowing that it would be, at best, second-rate
  2. Postpone the book to an indefinite date
  3. Turn to another topic for which I had most of the knowledge already in hand

I chose door number three in an attempt to get a useful book into the marketplace that would benefit communications experts in this time of need.

I wrote, published, and brought to market Reporters Don’t Hate You in two-and-a-half months because I either had the content in my head, had already written parts of it in other forms previously, and could do the research readily.

It was also easier since I published two books previously, so have a good idea what it takes to deal with the logistics of the publishing world.

Do you make a lot of money from book sales?

Yes and no. First, the “no” part. I never expect book sales themselves to turn a profit. Sure, I’m pleased that they sell a handful of copies on Amazon and other booksellers (and my books are sold “wide” as it’s called in the industry, meaning they are available anywhere books are sold; I’m a firm believer in consumer choice).

This hardly means I’m throwing money into a black hole. As a communications strategy and training consultant, I need to keep top of mind with clients and introduce myself to prospective clients. Being recognized as a three-time author helps separate me from competitors. It garners consulting projects and speaking engagements. A single typical consulting venture means that I recoup the publishing expenses incurred.

This applies only to business non-fiction authors. My hat is off to those who create fiction, for the only way they can make money is to sell books one by one. That is a difficult way to make a living, and the vast (and I mean really vast) majority of authors never come close.

How hard is it to write a book?

Every author is different. It gets easier every time. Like anything else, experience counts for a lot.

Speaking solely for myself, the writing part is fairly easy. I’ve been writing my entire professional life, so I’m  more than comfortable there. It’s the tedious logistics I could do without, but that’s part of the game.

Do you enjoy writing books?

I do. The creative process itself is fun — mixing and matching content, rearranging it so it flows for the reader. And I must admit that I get a kick when someone says with wonder, You’ve written three books?!”

What’s the subject of your next book?

I have some ideas, but plan to let that decision marinate for a while since we are in uncharted waters with no idea how or when the pandemic will ease. What I can say is I’ll stick to my areas of expertise, so it will center on some aspect of communications strategy.

Why the commitment to independent authorship?

Let me first define that term. Independent authors manage their own publishing businesses rather than relying on agents and old-style traditional publishing houses, gaining added control of their content and speed to market. Some call this self-publishing. I avoid that label due to pejorative connotations (some of it justified; there is a lot of garbage issued by indie authors).

I have zero interest in ceding control to a conglomerate that has no real idea what I’m writing about and no real interest in me or my readers. They just want to sell books to pad their bottom line. Authors generally have little to no say on their cover design, edits, or publication date. Even the title of the book is not up to them. The publisher holds all the cards. As a business owner, why on earth would I ever give up those rights?

Some authors believe that old-style “traditional” publishers promote their books. Good luck with that unless your name is J.K. Rowling or John Grisham, or you have a hot bestseller like, in recent times, John Bolton or Mary L. Trump. Oh, they may assign you a publicist — who also happens to be busy with an overwhelming number of other authors.

Not for me. I’m happy establishing my own publishing imprint. There is no way I could have brought Reporters Don’t Hate You to market in two-and-a-half months using the old-style method.

These are just some of the questions I get. It is all but impossible to pose them face-to-face in today’s environment, so here’s an alternative for you. I’d be delighted to visit with your business book club or reading group via video conference. Contact me for details.

Special deal for C-suite Blueprint blog followers

Get your free copy of Reporters Don’t Hate You when you subscribe to the Communications Community.

Once you’ve read it, add your review at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite bookseller. A sentence or two will do. Review it on your blog, podcast, and social media channels, too.

Want a ready-made segment for your blog or podcast? Contact me for an author interview.

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