Tag Archives: Bowker Statistics

The 10,000-Hour Rule for Writers



Expectations? Lower them!
Ian Irvine, an Australian bestselling author wrote: “Feel free to write the most beautiful, thought-provoking words in the English language. The public will feel equally free to ignore them. Rarely, someone will write a book and get it published straight away.  I was once in a roomful of writers when that question was asked, and only three writers raised their hands. Most writers work for 5-10 years before getting their first book published (my first took 9 years.)

Remember the 10,000-hour Rule
“That’s roughly how much work and practice it takes to become accomplished in any field, whether it be sporting, creative or professional. 10,000 hours is 5 years of full time hard work. To become a virtuoso, triple that.”

Bestseller Authors Need Years
Building up their audience takes lots of time, so it is surprising, that authors dream of their first book as a potential bestseller, and don’t realize that it takes a long time and hard work to get an audience, one reader at a time – especially if they did not do the ground work to build a huge following at Social Media, in reader forums or in real-life before they start publishing.

Author-Publishing is Like a New Profession
And professions need to be trained! It takes years to become an excellent writer and it also takes years to become an excellent publisher. It involves lots of skills and knowledge business-wise, marketing skills, not to mention, learning constantly new internet techniques and get to know the latest changes in publishing.
Many authors have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the time required for effective book promotion and to make meaningful connections with readers. They expect wonders from a single sales campaign, and don’t understand that under-pricing or “selling” for free is not a marketing strategy.

Take Advantage of their Knowledge
A book marketing professional has to learn years and years. Why, as an author, not take advantage of their knowledge to keep your head free for writing and interacting with readers? No one would start
catering business without learning to cook, and knowing how to present food or how to find customers.  Writing a book does not make for a publisher. Take the time to build your author platform and establish a brand, it will eventually give you an advantage in the market, no matter if self-publishing or going with a trade publisher.

Did You Learn About Your Readers?
It is staggering how few authors think about their future readers – and about their competition. Authors often do very little research – if any at all – to really understand their audience. Asking: “Who is your audience and who is your competition?” one might receive only vague answers … Topics, that are not only very important for self- publishers, but also for authors who want to go with a traditional publisher. They need to proof to the agent or publisher that they have done their homework.

How Can You Research Your Competition?
First of all make a long list with possible keywords that readers might use to find a similar book.  Check out the complete categories / genres at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Apple, Sony, Google
Books, Waterstones etc. and study all the books, that could be similar to your future work. Visit several public libraries and book stores to find similar books as the one you want to write, learn about your competition. Borrow the most interesting ones, not only to read them, but also to study the book layout and design. Read the online reviews of their books carefully!

Can You Answer These Questions?

  • How many books of this topic / keywords have been published already?
  • Where are these books sold and for which price?
  • In which format are they offered: e-book, print, audio-book?
  • Who are the customers of these competing books?
  • How are these books received and which ones are bestselling?
  • Which categories did they choose, and which keywords?
  • In which categories / genres are these competitive books listed?
  • What cover designs have been chosen for these books?
  • Which author represent him/herself and their book the best?
  • Did you study their Amazon and Goodreads author page, their website or blog?

More and More Competition for Authors
According to a new report from Bowker, the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000, up 59 percent over 2011.  The 2012 numbers will be published soon, but they might be even much higher – which means: more and more competition for authors.

Marathon – Not a Sprint:
Becoming an author-publisher is a long-term commitment and requires hundreds of small steps on the path to success! Before you start writing, create yourself a road map. Take your time, see your writing & publishing as a long-term project and don’t have unrealistic expectations. First create a professional looking book, do the ground work to build up your author platform, and then have fun, winning one reader at a time.  Becoming an author-publisher is a marathon, not a sprint, and it will require hundreds of small steps on the path to success!  Before you start writing, create yourself a road map.  Bowker explains: “The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners. They invest in their businesses, hiring experts to fill skill gaps and to gain more time for writing.”

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