If you’re thinking about self-publishing your work, you have many choices ahead of you. But before you even worry about formats, online book retailers, and author events, take a moment to think about what you envision for your book.
My vision for my book
Sure, most of us fantasize about a runaway bestseller. But envisioning more immediate, tangible goals will help you figure out the best way to approach getting your book out in front of your audience.
When I was envisioning my goals for Shadow on the Hill: The True Story of a 1925 Kansas Murder, here is what I pictured:
- My book on library shelves, especially in Kansas history collections.
- A book I could sell at events; a book I could sign.
- A book people could collect and pass along to a friend.
- A book available at local bookstores and museums.
- A book people could immediately access with a click or a tap the second they heard about it.
Do you see what I mean by immediate and tangible goals? It turned out that my vision focused on availability and opportunities to interact with the public. I knew, based on my goals, I wanted to be able to offer both a tangible paperback edition as well as an eBook edition.
Where do you picture your book?
Take a moment to think about your goals. Don’t think just in terms of sales–we all want sales!–but think about all the places you can easily see your book. Here are some examples to get you started:
- You want to be able to sell your cookbook at a booth at your county fair.
- Your church is celebrating its centennial and you want to sell a book about its history to raise funds for its renovation.
- You picture people reading your romantic comedy on their phones while waiting at the doctor’s office.
- You want to see your artsy home design book for sale at your local boutiques.
- You want people to hear the beauty of your poetry as they’re commuting to and from work.
Why does vision matter?
A realistic, tangible vision helps you do two very important things:
- identify your potential audiences
- identify what you need to do in order to reach your potential audiences
Your vision for your book will help you determine if you need to publish in paperback, eBook, or audiobook format. It will guide your marketing outreach, help you determine if author events are worth your time, and help you build what will hopefully be a long-term relationship with readers. Without vision, you might waste time and money making choices that won’t help you sell your book. So take a moment and envision.
Do and Don’t
Do dream about all of the places you want to see your book. It’s okay to dream big–who doesn’t want to see a #1 rank on Amazon?–but it’s more important to dream tangibly. Remember the Flat Stanley project, where school kids took pictures of Stanley in different places? Try that with your book.
Do be realistic. Picture your most immediate likely audience, and then the next likely audience, and so on.
Don’t feel like your book has to be everything to everyone. If your vision is to have only an eBook version and you don’t want to mess with paperbacks, THAT’S OKAY. The joy of self-publishing is that you call the shots. That also means that if, down the line, you change your mind, you can always introduce new formats.
A Final Note…
As mentioned before, the choices I made for might book might not be the right choices for you or your project, and that’s okay! Taking the time to envision your goals for your book will help you make the best choices for your book.