There are no second chances at first impressions.
For anyone who has not yet heard, writing a book can be incredibly beneficial. The amount of time and dedication to write and publish a book is more than most people will ever undertake. It is always impressive in a conversation when an author can reference their book to add value or seek bragging rights. But beyond the accomplishment is a myriad of other benefits. Authors in the business world are viewed as thought leaders, people who have something valuable to say, and trusted resources, amongst others. For many professional careers, becoming a published author is the icing on the cake.
But will your book help build your brand in any of these ways, or will it damage it?
That might sound crazy, but it is a fact. Writing a book isn’t like running a marathon where you can fall short of the finish line yet still be praised for the valiant effort during the race. A book is a reflection of who you are as a person. It provides insight for others as to how you operate personally and professionally. If the goal of having a book is to attract new clients, you want to put your best foot forward and show them you take pride in what you do. A poorly executed book will tell the exact opposite story.
You might think no one would intentionally publish a bad book, and I would love to agree with you. The problem is that this is not a conscious decision. Much like someone who has never run a marathon before might not realize everything involved with the conditioning needed to achieve the result, so too do most new authors overlook many of the components in launching a great book beyond just the writing. It is criminal to invest so much time and money in publishing only to miss the mark on something easily addressed in advance.
Let’s start with my absolute favorite – editing. Editing is a full-time job description for a reason, and not all editing is created equal. Your cousin Joe who proofreads everything you write is a far cry from (unless cousin Joe really is an editor) a professional developmental and copy/line editor. He may catch hundreds of errors, so many that you think nothing could have gone unnoticed. Well, take that thought out of your head because there are likely dozens, if not hundreds, more he missed. Even if you cycle the book to Aunt Susie and Uncle Tom after, errors will still slip by. This is not to say even a professional is perfect, we are all human after all. But the final product will be infinitely better, and you will come across as someone who pays attention to detail.
Interior layout is another area where new authors can tend to cut corners. What’s the worst that could happen with changing a few features in Word and playing with the margins? If you have ever held a poorly formatted book, the answer should be obvious. Margins, line spacing, indentation, and print justification all go a long way in making a book easy to read instead of painful. If you have managed to handle all the other aspects of the process alone and stumble here, your readers will not look past it. When your target client does not enjoy reading your book, it is natural to assume they will not enjoy working with you.
The old adage says, “Never judge a book by its cover.” But if we are being truthful, everyone judges a book by the cover to some degree. In fact, the book cover and title are arguably the first two factors a reader considers before even considering picking it up. If you have attracted them this far, the next step is turning the cover over to read what the book is about. Then, if you’ve really impressed them, they will scan the interior before making a final decision. A good book cover should not be something you like. No one cares what you like. The cover needs to speak to what your reader likes, and a professional cover designer can help you accomplish this.
Hopefully, the danger in publishing a poorly executed book is painfully clear. If you have not published yet, there is still time to avoid these pitfalls. But if you already published and are now second-guessing yourself, it is never too late to fix the problem. Our team is always happy to help guide you through the process.