There’s a certain cool factor that goes along with being able to add ‘published author’ to your credentials. Having a book that makes it to print generally tells the world you know your stuff: you turn out writing that a publisher is willing to take to press. But just because there’s such a cool feeling that goes along with getting a book published, should you really focus all your efforts on getting a book out there?
I’m not going to tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ — I certainly have my own opinions on the matter, but I can’t decide your priorities for you. I do have some questions that can help you decide, though.
Do you have a plan for after the book?
It may sound like I’m putting the cart in front of the horse here, but writing a book and even marketing it is a relatively short process in the grand scheme of things. Before you even get started, it’s worth at least thinking about your end game — after all, one book isn’t likely to support you for the rest of your life. Instead, you need to be thinking about how a book can help establish you as an expert in a certain area and help you promote your services, or how you can turn a book into another book or other paying projects. Depending on what you’re book to do for you, your book marketing and promotions can look extremely different.
What’s your timeline?
A book fills up your calendar pretty quickly: writing, revisions, promotions and everything else add up. Considering that most books don’t pay anywhere near what a full-time job might, you’ll need to decide just how much time you can devote to your book before you’ll need to resort to ramen. There are plenty of ways to solve this problem, of course, but it needs to be resolved now, rather than later.
Is there another option for the material I want to write?
Depending on the story you want to tell or the content you want to share, a printed book may not be the ideal format. Ebooks can be quite ideal for some sorts of publications — especially those which will regularly be referenced. There are also blogs (if you’re thinking about putting together information on lots of short topics) and a whole host of other options. There are some cases in which a book is just for the pleasure of seeing your name on the cover. If that’s the case, and your material is better off in another format, you can always run yourself off one or two copies on Lulu.
How much money do I really need to make from this project?
If you’re writing for money, books are rarely your best bet for good cashflow. If you’re just in it for the money, it really is crucial that you explore other options, such as an ebook. I suggest ebooks because you get to keep a much larger portion of your sales — you’re only out the cost of a designer to transform your manuscript into an ebook.