Don’t Be A One Hit Wonder

loneliest numberI’m reading a book by a guy who wrote five books before he even self published his first book. He is a very successful independent publisher (he sold 100,000 eBooks last year on Amazon). I think he has a smart strategy.

Many authors (including myself) put much time and energy into the first book, as well we should. But then we get distracted or we focus our energy solely on selling that first book. While it is a good thing to focus on selling said first book, it is also important to give your fan base something more to read fairly quickly.

Remember how it felt when the first Harry Potter book came out? Everyone read it. We all loved it. We all wanted more. But we had to wait. We did wait–a full year before we knew what happened to the now-famous boy who lived. But we didn’t really like waiting.

As a new (and most likely unknown) writer, you need to build on the fan base you attract with your first book, and you should do it quickly. When your fans finish your first book, they want to get more from you because they are excited about you. If you don’t fulfill that desire, those fans will look elsewhere and soon forget about you.

I don’t mean to sound harsh. I know this is fact because it happened to me.

I published my first book in 2009 and it met with great success. Then I didn’t know what else to write. I didn’t want to write more on grief (which was the topic of my first book), but I didn’t know where to go from there so I wrote business copy and newsletters for clients. And my book sales waned.

If I had, as the book I’m reading suggests, put together one or two additional stories and had them ready to publish, I would not have lost my fan base.

Now I have to start over.

I have learned though.

This time I’m starting over smart.

I am writing a series of three nonfiction books this year. Last month my plan was to write one, promote it, sell it and then write the next one. That is not my plan anymore. Now I see the wisdom of having a few manuscripts ready to publish so I can meet demand and satisfy my readers. This makes my readers happy. Then they tell other people about me and I can make more readers happy. It’s a good cycle.

So, as a Publishing Coach, I have to ask you the same question I asked myself: Are you a one hit wonder, or do you really want to make a go at being an author?

If you really want to be a best-selling author, you need to keep writing books.

As soon as you hit save on your first manuscript, start your next manuscript. As you edit the first book, outline the next one. As you publish the first book, write the second book. As you promote the first book, edit and prep your second book. As you prep your second book, outline your third book. And so on.

What do you think? Will this help make you a best-selling author?