5 Reasons to Wait and Slow Down When It Comes to Publishing Your Book

Among the many differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing is the turnaround time from book completion to book publication. A common distinction you hear between the two publishing options is that authors have to “hurry up and wait” in traditional publishing, while they “wait and hurry up” in self-publishing.

 

In traditional publishing, the hurrying up and waiting stems from authors hurrying to make their deadlines and then waiting the inevitable six months-plus for the long-lead publicity campaign that their publisher is (hopefully) mounting. In self-publishing, the waiting and hurrying up refers to the tendency of self-published authors to have spent forever and a day  writing and/or shopping their book to agents and editors, so that by the time they decide to self-publish they’re anxious—hurrying to get their books out ASAP.

 

Neither of these strategies is ideal, however, as both scenarios tend to make authors anxious, and the “wait and hurry up” strategy of self-publishing can be downright harmful to a book’s success.

 

Here are 5 reasons to wait and slow down:

 

1. Although many agents and traditional publishers still take on and buy manuscripts on proposal, waiting until you finish your book to shop it around will set you up for success. Writing your book on deadline for someone else is stressful at best, and while some authors argue it’s the only way their books would have ever been written, the vast majority of authors I work with get sidelined and distracted from their own writing once they start shopping their books to agents and editors.

 

2. Long-lead publicity (meaning publicity garnered in advance of your book’s publication) is key to your book having a chance in the world. You’ll hear from many publicists that they need three to four months lead time in order to make an impact; more and more I’m hearing they need six months to a year. Self-published authors who are in a big hurry to publish their books to the point of sacrificing this lead time should not be surprised by mediocre sales results.

 

3. Taking time between finishing your book and publishing your book to conceptualize a marketing strategy requires you to slow down. The marketing and publicity mindset is quite different from the one you adopt to write your book. Give yourself some transition space, and spend time brainstorming and coming up with creative ideas and outside-the-box plans for getting the message of your book out to the media and to readers. Creative planning should not be rushed.

 

4. Unless you have an incredibly timely topic, your audience will still be there in six months. Most people in the “wait and hurry up” camp are putting themselves under undue strain because they feel guilty for having spent three or four or nine years writing their book. Consider why you’re rushing. If you don’t have a built-in audience clamoring for your book, sit tight and work on building your platform and audience for a few months. It’ll be worth the wait.  

 

5. Too often I see authors sending out or publishing half-baked work. They’re anxious to shop their work to agents or editors in order to get some sort of gauge on the legitimacy of their work. Or they’re so beyond ready to have their book in hand that they undermine themselves by hurrying up. Your first book speaks volumes. It sets you up for future success. There are many ways to put a book out into the world, and if you’re super anxious to publish, consider other ways of slowing down. Put out a small “teaser” book, or serializing your novel as a series of ebooks, publishing the final print version at the end.

 

Hurrying up to publish is surprisingly anticlimactic, too, so if you’re feeling itchy, take a deep breath and revisit your timeline. And try to remember, time flies. So use it to spread the word, build your platform, and connect with your audience!

 

Do you have a story you want to share of being on either side of this equation? Have you had your own experiences with “hurrying up and waiting” or “waiting and hurrying up”? What insights did you gain? What might you share with your fellow SheWriters about what you learned?

*Race against the clock image courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com.

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Tags: book, platform, publishing, self-publishing, traditional

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Comment by GillianAlex on July 14, 2014 at 1:01pm

this is all very interesting. VERY interesting..

Comment by Renate Stendhal on June 30, 2014 at 6:30pm

Well, not really. Ironically, it seems we have to rethink the subtitle of our book. Too hastily chosen? Our readers have been telling us the humor of "Lesbian Marriage: A Sex Survival Kit" doesn't come across. They think it's not reflecting the book which is more about love and relationship than sex per se. The subtitle makes them a bit squeamish. There you have it: it's always a bit too soon! We are contemplating relaunching with a better title...

Comment by Brooke Warner on June 30, 2014 at 6:13pm

Thanks for sharing here, Renate. Sounds like you were in a rush but still did it right!

Comment by Mayu Molina Lehmann on June 29, 2014 at 2:01pm

Excellent advise, Brooke!

Thank you very much. I have a children's book ready and feel the urge to get it out ASAP. Your  post has made me reconsider the urgency of it. Thanks a lot!

Mayu

Comment by Renate Stendhal on June 29, 2014 at 11:38am

Ah, I almost forgot to tell you: Today we are celebrating Gay Pride with a KDP action -- free Kindle give-away of "Lesbian Marriage" --a book with secrets for every woman...Tell your friends, don't miss it:  http://tiny.cc/xurxh

Comment by Renate Stendhal on June 29, 2014 at 11:36am

Not giving up -- self-pub principle # 1?

So, what I was saying... We did NOT have time bringing out our book on "Lesbian Marriage"! We were in the grip of the historical moment, last June, when gay marriage became finally legal in CA. We wanted to catch that moment and write our hearts out about it... No choice then except to launch into do-it-yourself and get that book out within a few months. We managed to be the first book on the topic, which was exciting and unnerving. So much to learn very very fast!

My co-author and life companion Kim Chernin and I took the first self-pub seminar with Brooke (oh yes!) and her expert pal Howard van Es and we followed their advice by the letter -- self-publishing with CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback. A lot of work (I wrote blog posts and articles here about it) and a lot of fun. We have published many times in the old model of NY publishing, and this is our first venture into the frontier of pubishing. Wonderful feeling to have creative control, but plenty of angst over final decisions, PR and marketing. We hired a VA (Virtual Assistent) and reached out to media and platforms and got right away in the top 100 in our (niche) category. We created a landing page for the book and revamped our websites. We began to engage with gay and lesbian magazines and blogs, contributing posts. I never dreamed self pub would be so much work!!! We are hopeful -- and nervous. And hugely grateful to you, Brooke, for your advice, and Howard for his step-by-step excellent guidance.

Comment by Renate Stendhal on June 29, 2014 at 10:56am

Where's my comment? it showed up for a second and was gone!!

Comment by Renate Stendhal on June 28, 2014 at 5:31pm

Today and tomorrow, I am celebrating Gay Pride with a KDP action -- free Kindle give-away of "Lesbian Marriage" --a book with secrets for every woman... http://tiny.cc/xurxh

We could NOT wait -- we wanted to catch the historical moment of gay marriage becoming legal in CA and instantly share our thoughts about marriage, long-term relationships, romance and passion. In traditional publishing we would have no chance -- the moment would be long gone before we could say a word!

My co-author and life companion Kim Chernin and I based our adventure on the seminar by SheWrites Press director Brooke Warner and self-pub expert Howard van Es and followed their advice by the letter -- self-publishing with CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback. A lot of work (I wrote blog posts and articles here about it) and a lot of fun. We have published many times in the old model of NY publishing, and this is our first venture into do-it-yourself. Wonderful feeling to have creative control, but plenty of angst over final decisions, PR and marketing. We hired a VA (Virtual Assistent) and reached out to media and platforms and started selling right away in the top 100 in our (niche) category. We created a landing page for the book and revamped our websites. We began to engage with gay and lesbian magazines and blogs, contributing posts, convinced ourselves to have our first-ever book party, etc.... I never dreamed self pub would be so much work!!! We are hopeful -- and nervous. And hugely grateful for the expert advice from Brooke and the generous guidance from Howard!

Comment by Brooke Warner on June 26, 2014 at 6:53am

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Yolande and Adela!

Comment by Adela Crandell Durkee on June 26, 2014 at 6:24am

This is so timely for me.  I shopped my book to a couple of publishers as my writing approached the finish lines.  I got encouraging comments along with rejections.  I decided to hire an editor.  Yee-gads.  The best decision I made so far.  She found some dependencies that I'm embarrassed about and asked some questions that will ultimately make my novel so much better.  I feel anxious to get the ball rolling because I have so much time invested already.  You make me realize that's exactly why I should have a good execution plan in place before moving forward.  Thanks!

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