Some people say I’m harsh. Well, fine so be it but the reality is that I think the truth can set us free, at the very least it can help some authors gain perspective. It’s also good and cheap therapy. So here’s my list of 10 things no author should do (yet many of them do). If you have any others, feel free to add to this list. I’m certain I didn’t capture it all.
- Create your own genre. People like Stephen King and Dan Brown can create their own genre, because they are household names. You don’t have that luxury. Early on in your career few people will know who you are and bookstores will hate you if you try to create your own genre.
- Be unwilling to invest in your book either in sweat equity or hiring someone. If you aren’t willing to invest in your book why should anyone be willing to buy it.
- Expect that the process of book promotion will be like being on a luxury cruise where everyone will cater to you and you’ll be wildly popular and spoiled. The first six months (maybe longer) you’ll be the one in the dingy being towed behind the ship. Some passengers might throw you a stale roll but don’t expect it.
- Ask us for daily updates. More than likely nothing is happening on a daily basis. Seriously. Stuff takes time. Unless you are Elvis coming back from the dead, I highly doubt that daily updates are warranted and even then, there’s a whole generation of people who have no idea who Elvis is. Put it in perspective.
- Act as your own editor because you took a creative writing class in college or have been able to finish the entire New York Times crossword.
- Assume that sending a copy of your book to Ellen, Dr. Phil, Oprah, Wendy, or Kate is all you need to do to get their attention.
- Post fake reviews on their Amazon page. Seriously. Get over it.
- And here’s one for you self-published authors: do not *ever* design your own book cover. Last week I was at a conference and someone handed me a book to look at, the cover had been designed in Word. Seriously. It was a horrible cover. She said: “But the book is great.” Well, that may be but the cover doesn’t bode well that you’ll actually get people to read it.
- Ego, is that you calling? There’s an old saying in publishing: The Ego has Landed. Look, I get it all have egos but it doesn’t mean you need to wear yours like a badge of honor. Egos aren’t pretty, please leave yours at the door.
- What’s in a name? Well, a lot actually. Last week I had an author come to me with a book title that was the exact same as a book that had been a massive bestseller two years ago. He insisted that having the same title was a good marketing strategy because people would see his book and buyers might confuse it and he’d get a sale. You may get the sale but guess what you’ll also get? A lot of pissed off readers. I’ve had authors try to do this, too. Give themselves similar pen names to famous authors. Hi, I’m Jon Grisham spelled Jon, not John. Right. That should go over well.
So there you have it, as I said I know I have’t captured all of them so feel free to add to this list because we all know there are many more. Authors, don’t get me wrong. We love you, but we love you more when you act appropriately.