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Should Your Book Really Be a Book? How About a Website First?

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One of the key points from my January webinar about salable nonfiction book concepts
is that not every concept (or author) is ready for immediate book publication.
Sometimes you should start by building a site and a community around
your topic, and see where things lead. If you generate interest and
gather people around you, then:

  • You'll have a built-in audience for your work that you can interact with and reach out to for ideas
  • You'll be building your author marketing/promotion platform that will help sustain your writing career over a lifetime
  • You might experience role reversal: editors/agents approach YOU about a book deal.

One author in my webinar, Marsha Toy Engstrom, presented a wonderfully focused concept related to book clubs, with a targeted and identifiable audience, but it just didn't feel like a book project (yet). I suggested she start with a site. She recently wrote me to say:

Although I've had both a literary agent and book editor give me a thumbs up on the book concept, I certainly took your advice to heart. "Build a Website" has been on my laminated list for quite some time--however, your feedback was my impetus to stop working on the book, and start working on the site. Since you are to thank for its creation, I wanted to share it with you: www.bookclubcheerleader.com. I think it's fun--which should mirror the tone my book will take.

So ask yourself (even if you're a fiction writer): Would it make sense to start off with an online site, project, community, or social group? Why does your project need to be in print first? If you're wondering: How do I make money if I'm not publishing a book or selling a book, you might be in for a big surprise when you find out how much—or how little—most authors earn on book sales. And remember: How are you going to sell a book without having a reachable readership first?

Note that my next webinar is on Feb. 26, on self-publishing (particularly for writers who aren't sure if they should pursue it or not). You can register here.

Photo credit: Ian Wilson

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