Advice for authors

Seth Godin just reminded me about a couple of his older posts that share advice for authors. Pretty good timing as I tie-up the final details of a new book contract with Nikki at Peachpit.

Typewriter close-up

I’ll not steal all of Seth’s content, but here’s a bit, with source-links beneath.

“If you’re doing it for the money, you’re going to be disappointed. On the other hand, a book gives you leverage to spread an idea and a brand far and wide.

“Don’t try to sell your book to everyone. First, consider this: “58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.” Then, consider the fact that among people even willing to buy a book, yours is just a tiny little needle in a very big haystack. Far better to obsess about a little subset of the market — that subset that you have permission to talk with, that subset where you have credibility, and most important, that subset where people just can’t live without your book.

“The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.

“Writing a book is a tremendous experience. It pays off intellectually. It clarifies your thinking. It builds credibility. It is a living engine of marketing and idea spreading, working every day to deliver your message with authority. You should write one.”

Advice for authors, Seth Godin, 21 July 2005
Advice for authors, Seth Godin, 02 August 2006

A must-read if you’ve ever had thoughts of becoming an author.

Further resources:
Book industry statistics
The Society of Authors

Image via Thinkstock

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  1. Priceless and succinct words. I only started promoting my book two years before it was out and the impetus it has built and leverage it has garnered is immeasurable.

    “If you’re doing it for the money, you’re going to be disappointed.” -Wise words indeed! I once had a conversation with someone that said to be truly great you had to have written a book at one point or the other.

  2. For anyone wondering what Ebi’s book is, it’s a fine-art photobook titled Nigerians Behind the Lens. Check it.

  3. Looking forward to reading your next title David. Congratulations!

  4. Congratulations on your latest addition to the series Dave!

  5. Jamie Davis

    This is a great post David. It has been my ambition to write a book for a long time. I’m on the verge of starting a blog – so gimme 3 to 4 years ;)

  6. Cheers, B, Claire!

    Good luck with that, Jamie. Have any questions, let me know.

  7. 3 years, sounds like a really long time. But if that’s your calling, might as well do the right thing, slowly but surely.

  8. My book recently launched, but I didn’t have the luxury of promoting it years before its release as I only had 3 months to write it in! Thus is the way of technical books though it seems.

    I enjoyed the experience, and it’s definitely taught me a lot.

  9. It’s not three years to promote a specific book. It’s:

    “Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.”

    E.g., I started this blog in October 2006. For six or seven months in 2009 I started and finished writing my book. The time previously spent building a platform through my blog helped when it came to book promotion.

  10. Terry Zoerb

    Hi David,
    Pleased to have found your web site as finding useful information here. I haven’t aspired to be an author so having committed to doing so for a Self Expression Leadership Program is really getting out on a limb…

    On your book cover I see that you have used your designs created for clients to illustrate points you are making. Does an author need permission from their clinets to write about work completed for the client or is the author allowed to use their client’s design challenges and the designer’s solutions as long as the client remains anonymous? Appreciate any advice on this.

  11. Hello Terry, when dealing with a client I make sure they know I can use the designs I create for self-promotion. Unless a specific client of yours has made you sign a non-disclosure agreement at the start of a project, I don’t see why they’d not be happy for you to promote the work you created for them.

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