You’re Only as Good as Your Worst Book
Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
You may have noticed that there are now far more books available to readers than ever before in history. The rise of digital publishing has led to a tenfold increase in the number of books published each year, from about 300,000 to more than 3 million.
In this crowded field, discoverability is the biggest challenge for an author. You must grapple with the question of how your readers will find you.
Therefore, keeping readers once you’ve snagged them is essential. You want readers to finish your book and immediately want more. You don’t want to have to keep wooing them over and over. You want to win them and make permanent fans of them.
Once you lose those fans—disappoint them with a book that’s not up to your usual standard—they may be gone forever.
I recently read Sue Monk Kidd’s latest novel, The Invention of Wings, and it was the best novel I’ve read in ages. Loved it! But I wasn’t able to convince my book group to choose it as one of our monthly reads. Why not? Sue Monk Kidd is the amazing author of The Secret Life of Bees… why wouldn’t they want to read this new novel? Well, because Kidd also wrote The Mermaid Chair, which several members of the group disliked so intensely, they acted like they had PTSD. They wouldn’t consider another Kidd novel.
That’s how it works with readers! Time is too short and books are too plentiful. Why waste time on something that might disappoint?
It’s now more important than ever to put forth your best work, each and every time you publish.
We’re all familiar with the new order of things in publishing. Why go the laborious “traditional” route when anyone can self-publish? After all… it’s so eeeeeasy.
Yes, it’s easier these days to publish. But guess what? It’s not any easier to write a great book.
If you’ve published traditionally, and you decide to put some self-published books out there, do yourself a favor and make sure everything about that book is the very best it can be. The writing. The editing. The layout. The cover design.
No matter if you’re a self, traditional, or hybrid published author—don’t cut corners. Don’t phone it in. Try to make every new book your best. Better than the last.
If you don’t, you could undermine your brand. You could weaken your value as an author in the eyes of readers out there. As Mike Shatzkin said (here), “Each instance of an inferior branded product hitting the marketplace will weaken the value of the brand.”
Of course I acknowledge that no matter how hard you try, not every book will meet readers’ expectations. I have no doubt that Sue Monk Kidd was trying to write her best book when she penned The Mermaid Chair.
(And just so I’m clear, your worth is not based on how others react to your book. The title of this post isn’t true in real life. It’s only true in market terms.)
All I’m asking is that you never stop trying to put out your very best work. Don’t get on the “write as many books as you can, as fast as you can” bandwagon. Make every aspect of every book the very best it can be. Then, no matter what happens, at least you’ll know you gave it your all.
And that’s all anyone can ask of you.
Does this advice seem harsh to you? Or does it sound like common sense? Do you feel it puts too much pressure on you?
It’s more important than ever to put forth your best work, each and every time you publish. Click to Tweet.
It’s easier these days to publish–but not any easier to write a great book. Click to Tweet.
Do you believe you’re only as good as your worst book? Click to Tweet.
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