Why Publishing Your First Book is Like Having Your First Baby

In conversation with SilverWood Books, author Sharon King highlighted how your first book is like having your first baby, without the physical pain, but almost as much swearing!

It's your first...

In conversation with SilverWood Books, author Sharon King highlights how your first book is like having your first baby, without the physical pain, but almost as much swearing! That hopeful feeling, knowing it's on its way. Sourcing more information, which rears new fears of the unknown. The similarities continue throughout the five hurdles of publishing:

Finding time to finish writing

Writing your first book is a lot like pregnancy. First-time mums can’t control their baby’s arrival any more than first-time authors can. You research a lot to get it 'right’ but it’s impossible to stick to planned timings. And the gestation period can descend into anxiety towards the due date. To stay on track, authors must allocate enough time to write daily, completing chapters and revisiting earlier ones to ensure they flow sensibly. But you can’t procrastinate over every detail.

Our professional tip for finishing your manuscript: create a chapter plan for the book themes, then refer back to it regularly. Be conscious of squeezing in every remotely-linked idea; it’s important to leave room for a sequel.

Angst whether it'll be good enough

Giving birth is a painful process, creating fear and enormous excitement. You’ll be in two minds, wanting to speak to people versus avoiding a lot of unwanted advice. Like a midwife’s role in preparing mum for the birth, your publisher will nurture the arrival of your book. And although you need the experts’ help, advice can often hit a sensitive nerve! It’s important to understand different roles in editing and proofreading. An editor can challenge your thinking or suggest you change your approach. Proofreading has a different purpose. Although it seems a good idea to ask others to read your manuscript, only a technically trained proofreader will spot syntax improvements, typos and grammatical errors.

Our pro-tip: the editor’s job is to side with the readers and make your book the best it can be. That's certainly the way we work at SilverWood. Our proofreader will correct the punctuation and spelling, but generally preserve the tone and language as it should be.

Wondering what it'll be like

While pregnant it’s common to wonder who your baby will take after in the family. Similarly, with your first book, you’ll spend a lot of time imagining what it will look like. The look of your first book creates a design stylesheet for your author brand - like choosing the colours and interior design of your nursery for the baby before it arrives. Yes, you’ll want the cover design to reflect your hopes and preferences, but its purpose is to sell the contents. The image, size of the book title and style of typeface are key decisions where an expert book cover designer will add huge value.

Our pro-tip: stretch your budget to hire a professional designer who knows how to create a compelling book cover (or work with the SilverWood team, who are experienced professional book designers). Let them guide you on colours, diagrams or photos to blend with the fonts. Book cover design is a specialist area that needs experience and market know-how to achieve the right results.

Fear and excitement for the due date

As with the arrival of a new baby, you’ll want to show off your first book with high hopes everyone will love it as much as you do. Picking a launch date is exciting! But like new mums, first-time authors have to prepare for polite enthusiasm, or in extreme cases, a downright lack of interest. Your publisher can advise how to market your book before the launch. With social media to reach potential readers, your job is to capture their interest without becoming a baby-bore!

Our pro-tip: before the launch, market your book as widely as possible outside your usual circles. If you work with SilverWood, we'll help your prepare. On the launch day, surround yourself with family and friends to help you celebrate your achievement.

Getting out into the world

It’s common for parents to try out all sorts of new activities to introduce their first-born to the world. First-time authors face a similar challenge, choosing where to distribute their books. Although Amazon is an obvious choice, accounting for nearly half of all print book sales and more than 90% of ebook sales, (according to Bookstat) many readers expect to buy books from other sources. To maximise sales, your publisher will arrange distribution through as many channels as possible. Loyal fans will happily buy books directly from your website, more helpful for your profits.

Our pro-tip: offer browsers the opportunity to read the first chapter on your website by setting up a publishing widget, such as a Book2Look biblet (available if you publish with SilverWood). An alternative is a professionally typeset and prepared PDF that your readers can download. Then create a compelling book marketing strategy for attracting new readers.

Want to know more about Sharon's work...?

You can read more about Sharon’s journey to publish her first book, Heal Your Birth, Heal Your Life in our online case study.

How can we help you...?

To discuss your book with publishing director Helen Hart, please drop her a line here.

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“If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I hope you don't go at it alone. With a team like SilverWood behind you, you have the support you need to publish the best work you believe in.”

J A Higgins