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What's Your Biggest Challenge with Your Book?

I'd be interested to learn what authors/publishers on this network think their biggest challenges are with their book. I wonder if there's any common, pervasive challenge we all face.

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My biggest challenge is that I am donating all of my royalties from my novel [published by a wonderful small press] to fighing cancer and must live off a teacher's salary. While Relay for Life is tremendous in publicizing my book, there are still so many literary avenues that I have trouble tapping into [like reviews in major publications] because I must work a day job to put food on my table and that leaves me no budget for promotion. I am GLAD to be giving away my royalties but when you are not in a business to get rich, you often lack the resources needed to promote the book and get it into the hands of people whose lives you hope to enrich and bless. So, MY biggest challenge is in finding ways to make my work known.


I would, from the depths of my heart, appreciate any advice or help I can get that will help me get this book into more hands, so that I can give more money to fighting the thing I hate most...cancer.

Good on you, Darlene, on donating to a great cause. Have you thought about selling your books through any cancer fundraising functions? Or if someone is doing a talk on cancer at a local clinic ask if you can come along and sell your book because the royalties go to fighing cancer. There are so many of these events all around the country. I went to the Relay for Life site and am assuming your book is not listed in their resources section. Maybe you can ask if it be linked. I hope this helps. Good luck and well done.
Finding an editor I can afford!

I think most writers will agree that writing the book is easier than marketing it.

Just getting a book on a bookstore shelf, even in your local area, is difficult. It's got to be the biggest challenge because bookstores are businesses and they work on profits. It's hard to persuaded them to stock new authors unless the title is 'In' or they are already famous. Plus with so little profit to the author and the publisher I believe selling to bookstores shouldn't be the be-all and end-all. Authors need to find other outlets such as seminars, author talks, markets, specialty shops etc. Be creative and find a novel way to sell your book (no pun intended!).

The biggest challenge I am struggling with is whether to go with my publisher for book two or self publish.  My editor is just wonderful, but my overall process wasn't great and I really sold my book myself with not a lot of help.  I am a wiz at social media and blogging, so I have really done well building a national platform. I have a book concept ready to go and my editor wants it-- I'm just not sure whether I want to sell it. HELP!


Melinda F. Emerson

Author, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months 

Melinda, I was in the same boat - had a publisher for the first book in my YA fantasy series - good editor but did 90% of  promo and marketing and I'm NOT a social media whiz. In fact, all I knew about was email and had to get advice from my 22 year old daughter about FaceBook, blog, etc.


We provided the publisher with videos, book cover, bookmarks, press release material, you name it. All the publisher did was get me into their network and distribution system. All for a small percentage of net sales. I made more selling 50 books I got then 400 they sold.


The publisher also turned down the rest of the series -which was a surprise, so now I'm doing the rest. Or I should say, we - my family. It's a joint effort.


Shawn Lamb

Author of ALLON

Melinda and Shawn,


I was 50/50 as to whether to seek a traditional publisher or self-publish for my last book. I ended up self-publishing and feel better about doing it all myself. My next book (out in May), I'm also self-publishing. Since I make about 5x as much per sale on Amazon when self-publishing through my own publishing company via CreateSpace, I figure that unless I'm convinced that the publisher's leverage/connections/marketing savvy can sell at least 6x as many books, then why go with them?


Some will argue that self-publishers can't get into bookstores to any major extent, but I'd argue that, unless you're already a best-selling author, your odds of getting significant sales through bookstores are rather remote, even with a traditional publisher. I called around to the mega-bookstores until I found a manager who would talk (most called it "proprietorial information" that couldn't be dispensed) to find how many new titles their store received each week.  When I tallied it up, they were receiving far less than one percent of the traditionally published new titles each year. Yet, the illusion most authors seem to accept is that if they get a contract with a traditional publisher, their books will be sitting in most of the major bookstores.


Furthermore, just because you get in a bookstore doesn't mean they will reorder once it has sold. I know one author with a traditional publisher who has to remind his local bookstore to reorder every time they sell out of his book. Being local, they've sold lots of his books, but his books can't be on automatic reorder because he's not a nationally best-selling author. Now if it's that much trouble to keep his book in his local bookstore, what are the odds that any other bookstores are reordering?


The bookstores system, in my humble opinion, was never a great set-up for mid-list authors. Their space is much too limited. As they receive new books, they must either send non-sellers back to the publishers or put them in the 80% off bin. That's why Dan Poynter is fond of saying, "Bookstores are lousy places to sell books" - from the author's perspective, that is.


But if we get over our fond desire to see our books in lots of bookstores, we have to ask just how much value a traditional publishing company offers us? Hey, if Harper/Collins wanted to pay me a handsome royalty and promised to get me significant national exposure, I'd certainly consider it, and probably sign the contract. But if it's a smaller traditional publisher and I'm not convinced their marketing will make a significant difference, I'd typically rather go rogue and do my own thing.


I still have respect for publishers and what they can do for certain authors in certain situations, but presently I'm enjoying the benefits of owning all my rights feel cool about being more indie.

J. Steve Miller
President, Legacy Educational Resources
Author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It
"The money book for people who hate money books."



I totally agree, which is why I went self. I would add, with the closing of bookstores, a self-published authors getting in is not necessarily a sign of 'having arrived'. I find the most success at events, book festivals and conventions. I cover all the bases.


Since I write YA fantasy, I attend home school conventions along with book festivals and fairs. Home school is an overlooked market by authors and publishers alike, unless it is textbooks. These tend to be on the conservative side, but I'm a Christian author who happens to write fantasy from a different perspective than the average fantasy writer. I hit upon a niche. I let my publisher deal with the bookstores from B&N, Books-A-Million, Christian chain and independent stores, while I concentrate on making more personal connections at events and visits to local schools - public, private and home school groups.



I want my big push for my personal finance book, Enjoy Your Money, to be to home schoolers this year. I'll start researching this in a month or so. I think the book would be very appealing for them, as I've got discussion questions at the end of each chapter and it would be very easy for a home school family to use with their older teen. I'll be looking for the top home school review sites and for home school gatherings in the Atlanta area. Any advice along this line would be appreciated. We home schooled our kids in their early years.



I'm going to the MidSouth Convention in Memphis March 3-5. Here's the link Great Home School Conventions which host 4 in various parts of the country.


There are more in different states. I'm also doing Middle Tennessee Home Educators Association again this May.


I just published my first book a week ago and I have sent off a couple of my books to be reviewed in two magazines from my target audience. I am also seeking bloggers to review my book; however my book is political fiction and most of the bloggers I have found have been lobotomized by the YA Paranormal Romance genre.


I find it sad that women far passed their 20's give these books any credence.  


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