Expert Round-Up Topic: For authors who’ve already been published, what would you do differently next time?For authors who’ve already been published, what would you do differently next time?


Several years ago when I published my second book, Diary Of A Flygirl (cool girl) Wannabe, I used a so-called publisher found online.  My first publisher, a local small publishing house, was no longer in business and the testimonials for this company made it seem like a viable one. As my first publisher did a fabulous job of editing, I didn’t do a thorough second one after they supposedly did. The result was typos and grammar issues present upon publishing it. As such, when publishing my last three books, using a new company who published all three, I reviewed the edits and grammar several times. I also worked with them to develop the covers and other steps prior to them being published. What happened during the publishing of Diary and lessons learned, will last a lifetime.


Next time I’d be sure to have a book title that works productively with search engines. I learned the hard way with my title, Slice the Salami, Tips for Life and Leadership, One Slice at a Time. The title makes sense in context with the non-fiction tip about making change in life a slice at a time, rather than with the metaphor of choking on a salami by biting off more than you can chew. The problem is that Amazon began giving suggestions such as, “If you like this book you may enjoy…. Books on cooking, or meats and other non-related topics.”

My next book title, was more direct: Tips for Resumes and Interviews, All in One Hour. That worked!


My main concern in choosing a publishing partner was to ensure that I would continue to own the assets after the contract was complete. However, I did not look into the details as to how I would receive those assets. The files were delivered in a way that cost me twice as much to have a technical editor input new content for an updated version (about 10 percent more content) than it did to format the original 100 percent to the written and pdf page. The work that had been done was sloppy, made use of many “cut and paste” technology short cuts that could not be used for updating, and contained multiple significant errors. I thought I had done my homework in protecting the content, but I did not pay enough attention to protecting my investment in formatting the content.

As with most things, the devil is in the details when publishing your content. Reduce the temptation to focus entirely on your content and invest in understanding the technology that stands between your content and your reader. Interoperability between software applications, how formatting and editing to a page or screen is achieved, and what a charge may be for
modification are all key factors for an author. Ask for an addendum to your contract that states specifically what software will be used and what skill is required for each of these tasks, because identifying it when you are ready to switch publishers (and it will happen) may be difficult. Consider it a prenup for your content. While less emotionally fraught, you will be thrilled to have it someday.

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These are the two things I would do differently when publishing again:

*Write a tiny book.* On Amazon, my shorter books sell 5 times as many copies as my long ones. I used to confuse the value of a book with the length of a book. A good book doesn’t need to be long. It only needs to be long enough to provide value. For example, my book titled TED Talks
Storytelling is only 50 pages long, but it has sold over 100k copies and has almost 1000 5-star reviews on Amazon.

*Narrow in on one problem.* I’ve found that short books sell well because they appeal to busy readers, and because they hone in on one very specific problem that the reader is experiencing. Thus, instead of choosing a broad topic like The Ultimate Entrepreneurship Guide, you should narrow your topic to something like How To Write Your Business Plan in 5 Days. The benefit of this is that it’s now an easier and quicker book for you to write. Plus, it’s also more appealing to your reader because it makes a specific and compelling promise.
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My book, Hold on Tight: A Parent’s Journey Raising Children with Mental Illness, published by Barlow Books in March, has been honored with the Mom’s Choice Award® and been an Amazon bestseller in the autism genre. As I started my journey, I spoke with three authors whom I knew and respected. They gave me invaluable advice, but of course I didn’t know all the right questions to ask, particularly around marketing and branding.

While I have been fortunate to work with a marketing specialist who has guided me from the start, I wish I had known the benefits of marketing my book months before it was published. As I found out, it takes a long time for many corporations, magazines, major podcasts and other media to bring authors on for speeches, articles and appearances. Optimize awareness of your book and its key messages and strike while the iron is hot!
Instagram and Facebook: janstewartauthor


Looking back, if there’s one thing I’d do differently, it would be to engage my readers early on, even before the book was a full concept. Engaging them not only as consumers but as participants in the journey. The insights of a community can often add a different dimension to your narrative.

While I was passionate about my subject, I realized the significance of balanced promotion. Too little, and even the most profound insights might get lost in the noise. Too much, and it can overshadow the essence of the message. Striking the right chord ensures your book finds its way into the hands of those who’d benefit most from it.

Also, never underestimate the power of a solid pre-launch strategy. Before the first copy hits the stands or online shelves, build the buzz. Make people curious, excited, invested. After all, as with relationships, it’s all about connection, isn’t it?

As we forge ahead, embracing feedback, remaining adaptable, and staying authentic to our voice ensures our words not only reach many but also resonate deeply.

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My first book (published in 2018) was with a publishing company, but due to its small size, there was not a lot of support. I found that I should have on my own engaged in much more marketing during the period between acceptance and actual publication. That was a period of about eight months. For my second book (2022), which I self-published through Amazon, I had much more promotion support that I hired directly. That book was ranked a best seller on Amazon in a couple categories. It is still a tough go to get book sales going. I am now finalizing an audiobook of my second book and am working on promotion of the audiobook now.

I have a fiction-based-on-fact book in the works now, A Cheap Education. Targeted for first or second quarter of 2024. I have already been doing low-level promotion. I plan to roll it out with the audiobook paired with the printed book and Kindle versions for maximum market reach.

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