To some, today’s publishing definition – “K is for Knowledge” – may seem like a detour from my traditional publishing posts. Look again.
Without appropriate knowledge of the publishing industry a new author hasn’t got a chance.
While writing a publishable book (or other creative work) comes first, sooner or later the author must learn enough about publishing as a business to make the decisions about the future of the author’s work and career. Those decisions must not be made without adequate knowledge.
The Internet offers a wealth of information and educational materials for authors at every stage of every kind of writing career. Whether you choose to self-publish, represent yourself, or seek agency representation and/or a traditional publishing contract, resources abound to help you on your quest. Blogs, websites and social media can put you in touch with agents, attorneys, editors, and authors of every possible skill and stripe. These can be valuable sources of information (and knowledge) for the conscientious author seeking to learn about the publishing industry.
However, discretion plays a part. Expert researchers know that you don’t depend on a single source to establish historical facts. The same wisdom applies to other forms of research. Authors seeking to learn about publishing shouldn’t apply on a single opinion or source. Find at least one other website or trusted professional whose opinion, facts, or advice confirm what you believe to be true.
When you research the industry, or seek information to help with difficult publishing decisions, be sure to seek out reputable sources. “Reputable” means authors or industry professionals with real-world experience in the topics about which they speak. Inexperienced sources often provide less-reliable information even when their intentions are honorable.
That said, you shouldn’t discount information just because the source is not a household name. Self-published authors often have valuable insights about their experiences with the publishing process. Debut novelists whose works have not yet hit bookshelves may still have useful knowledge about the writing and publishing process. Evaluate each source on the basis of the information presented – does this source agree with other reliable sources on other major points? Does the information comport with what you already know to be true?
No matter where you are in your publishing journey, it’s never too early to start acquiring knowledge about the publishing industry.
You’re never “too new” to start thinking about and planning your career. You might want to hold off on the business cards reading “New York Times Bestselling Author” – but if that’s where you want to end up someday, now is the time to start learning how people get there.
Rely on the knowledge of others who went before you. Build your own knowledge, and then “pay it forward” by sharing with those around you. Some writers do succeed without substantial knowledge of the industry, but far more often – almost all the time – it’s knowledge that provides the real key to writing success.