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Top 5 Things To Do to Make Sure Your Book Fails

I figured there are plenty of “experts” out there both online and off that will tell you everything you need to do to insure that your book is a huge success, so I thought I would share with you the 5 things I’ve learned that will make sure your book is a failure. This might be helpful because with all of the information readily available somehow the average business book still sells less than 2,000 units so something is clearly not working in the current market place.

1) Don’t define what success looks like.

Whether it’s hitting the best seller least, getting exposure for yourself or your brand, engaging people that will follow you in the future, driving sales of a specific offering, don’t think of those things upfront – they are difficult decisions and it will all just “work itself out” once the book is released. You’ll know what success looks like when you get there.

2) Don’t ask for help from anyone.

Let’s face it – your friends and family are busy and your clients have full schedules so it doesn’t make much sense to bother anyone and ask them to help you get the word or message out. After all, most of us are too shy, it’s somewhat awkward and if we can avoid asking for help we certainly should. Most books become incredibly successful by a combination of luck, fate and serendipity.

3) Spend as much time as possible on the cover.

You can never have too many versions of the cover to pick from. 30? 40?  I’d say at least 100.  Ask everyone around you for months on end to give you their input (but don’t waste time asking an expert – your friends and colleagues certainly know best). It clearly makes perfect sense given that you’ve spent a year or more of your life writing the book…it’s all about the cover.

4) The publisher knows best.

Never argue with the publisher, after all, they publish hundreds of books a year and your book is obviously the one they care the most about. They know your content better than you and the 23 year old “Assistant to the Assistant of the Junior Director of Marketing” that they will assign to market your book clearly knows what she’s doing. She’s been there for almost three months and can follow their “marketing” template fairly well, plus she read a lot books in college. You’re in good hands.

5) The web and social media are a fad.

As an author you just need to know how to write a good book. The web, LinkedIn and Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are all for kids and they probably won’t be around that much longer. Book buyers obviously go to the book store to buy books, they aren’t wasting their time online so neither should you.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Ok, this is hilarious but even funnier considering I read it wrong at first and was taking the advice until I got about half way through number 4…ohhh, right…this is what I need to do to make sure my book FAILS! Thanks

  2. This is perfect advice! (For failing, haha…)
    I so naively thought my publishers knew everything. They actually didn’t even put the book’s title on the spine. Man, what an oversight!
    I also naively thought they’d have the expertise to tweak what I gave them and make it even better. Ha… they took what I gave them, misinterpreted some of the info, and actually were able to make it a little worse 🙁
    I published a cookbook (not a business book), but I think your advice applies to most authors. Thanks for a great post!

  3. From some experience, I hear you on the publisher part. Publishing today is simply a content factory, putting out the maximum amount of sellable product for the minimum cost.

    The 23-year-0ld assistant to the assistant (ad nauseum) scenario is not only funny, it’s painfully accurate. These days, if you go the traditional publisher route, don’t expect anything. Unless you’re one of the top (i.e. multi-million selling) authors, their involvement with your book will be next to zero.

    Here’s another scenario. The “editor” will likely be a few years out of school, greatly underpaid, and realizing that publishing isn’t nearly as glamorous as she was led to believe. You’ll be the unfortunate target of that anger.

  4. Thanks Peter,
    I totally agree about writers needing to defining their success – to make sure they have distinct goals. Defining achievable goals and celebrating each success along the way is also important for motivation. That tip could also be titled: “All you Need to Do is Write the Book. Everything Else will Just Happen!”

  5. Hey, Peter, I’ve got 20 more for you that my clients wanting to build a business or brand via their book were previously planning to do, and here are the 6 most problematic of them:

    1. Don’t create business-related goals that are prioritized (so you know which to invest in first), measurable (so you can switch which ones you invest in as you accomplish some) AND strategic – and certainly don’t have those goals drive every aspect of your book.

    2. Don’t make the people who control your accomplishing those goals be your top target audiences, even if they aren’t your business’ current target market.

    3. Don’t have the needs and issues of your top target audiences drive your book’s content. Instead, decide your content first, without any regard to whether or how well it fits both your strategic goals and your target audiences.

    4. Don’t modify any aspects of your business to enable it to work TOGETHER with your book to create a book-business synergy and accomplish your desired business results. Just allow your book to go in one direction while your business continues on the path it’s always been on.

    5. Don’t have anyone on your book team who understands how businesses grow, the dynamics of that growth and what various growth goals in your industry require in order to occur. Want your book to take your business to the next level? Then, by all means, don’t worry about having anyone advising you about the handful of ways your book-driven revenues can double or triple within a few years.

    6. Don’t engage a coach/consultant to lead you through your 100+ decisions, choices and tasks relating to both your book and your business to insure they work together to generate your goals – and to give you perspective about your publisher’s point of view and the limitations of a publisher’s role.

    It’s no wonder so many executives have such meager results from their book!

    [email protected]

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