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10 Signs Your Book Career Is Doomed

How do you know if your book career is careening headfirst into “as stale dollar store Halloween candy” territory? Chiclets, flavored Tootsie Rolls, candy corn (seriously, it’s a decoration people not a food), these might be you in a nutshell.

1) You can’t figure out Google. As in, you’d rather take the time to compose an email or God forbid call and harass your publisher, editor, hell Amazon, assuming “it’s not me it’s you”, instead of taking 10 seconds to Google an answer to your problem. Key word, YOUR problem.888

2) This fact surprises you: eBooks require a special file format. Which goes to say you probably also assume eReaders can just read your Word doc, and now that you know they don’t, you’ll circle back to issue #1 and email or call someone else to resolve your lack of technical knowledge that most 6th graders have a grasp on.

3) You think your investment has more value than anyone else’s. Maybe you’ve never actually had that EXACT thought, but your actions have confirmed it. You expect call backs and email replies within the hour, or even minutes, because that’s why you hired someone. News flash, unless that someone is a personal assistant, that’s not realistic. Agents, publicists, editors, cover designers, etc. take on books they have a connection with, they feel they’re going places, they see a future for them. So shake off your lack of self confidence and know you’re important to them and they’re doing their best – there’s no need to ride their ass or pull them away from another client in order to be successful. If you think that’s what it takes…

4) You make all your decisions based on ROI. If you don’t know what ROI is you might be safe, or you might just have another term for it. Anyway, your focus is on earning all your investment back ASAP. Now we get it, most people can’t afford to write books for charity, I certainly can’t, but it’s important to understand that success as an author is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you make all your decisions based on whether or not it will get you your money back tomorrow, you’ll be missing a lot of fantastic opportunities that will pay you back 10 fold in the future.

5) Your just want to write, you don’t want to be involved in your own marketing. Unless you’re independently wealthy or already a big name (ahem, even Stephen King makes time for the occasional interview) you can’t expect everyone else to make you famous. One, you can’t afford it. Really, you can’t. And two, personally connecting with your fans and potential readers is one of the best publicity tactics in the business, and you own that.

6) You wrote your book to get back at someone. One time I sat down with this author who started to describe his book and he said, “My ex-wife is in it, I totally got back at her in this book, wait till you see what I did to this bitch.” I kid you not. Ok so if this is you, consider therapy, medication, or you know a zen meditation retreat. Did I mention therapy?

7) You think Shonda Rhimes is stealing your ideas. I don’t even think we need to elaborate on this one. Generally super creative people don’t need to steal, just be flattered that the two of you are of like mind and leave it at that.

8) You plan your campaign around the moons or Mercury retrograde. So, I have worked with a lot of intuitives and I get that this is a “thing” but when it comes to marketing, put down the crystal ball and trust the people you hired. There’s so much that goes into a publicity campaign and timing, and things can change in a matter of minutes sometimes depending on what’s released in the media, so to make the most of your investment you’ll have to leave the decisions to the professionals, and not the universe.

9) Your book description is full of typos on Amazon or, even worse (if that’s possible), your book description is IN ALL CAPS because you want to make sure people see it – and you brush it off because your book speaks for itself. First of all this is lazy. If you see something wrong with your Amazon listing, get it fixed. Seriously. Remember, you’re an author, spelling and grammar matter, you’re held to a higher standard and whether you agree with that or not – it’s the reality. This also extends to business communications, no matter how friendly your relationship is with the people you communicate with around your book, keep it classy. Limit emoticons, smiley faces make most people gag, re-read your emails, be concise. Whether we want to admit it or not we work harder for people who are earning it and deserving it and bringing the “wow” factor – be that person on all levels.

10) You’re teetering on the edge of writing what you know, and needing therapy. Therapy again, see a theme here? Here are some examples, a new age author that writes about self exploration, finding peace and balance, achieving zen, but also is known for sending nasty, passive aggressive emails to her team about every little detail of her marketing campaign. Yes, it happens all the time. Or the guy who writes a business book but his credit card payment gets rejected half way through his book tour. Your book can be therapeutic, but it shouldn’t be your therapy. Be honest with yourself, know the difference, save yourself a train wreck or 12 and get the therapy first – write your book when you’ve been cleared by a doctor.