The #1 Mistake Wannabe Authors Make

Back in 2002, I had breakfast at the San Diego State University Writer’s Conference with a highly regarded literary agent, and I asked him, “What is the biggest mistake you see authors make?”

And he said, “Impatience.”

He was right.

When it comes to book publishing, if you allow impatience to drive your decisions, you can literally ruin your project.

If you self-publish, the whole process can take several months, or even up to a year. If you’re going for a traditional publishing deal, there are even more steps (and months) to go from idea to holding your published book.

Here are a few areas where impatience can block your success.

Be aware and do your best to “chill before you kill” your opportunity.

Make Sure You’re Ready

If you’re just starting out in your field, you’re not ready. Get some experience and become a real expert first.

If you’re already established, but no one knows who you are, you too will need to exercise some patience.

Even though you might have the knowledge to publish, without much of an audience, you’re not ready to pitch to literary agents. Grow your platform first.

Sometimes, we take on “best kept secret experts.” Clients we know need a bigger platform, but we can see that with a little coaching and support, they can bring it up to snuff in just a few months.

The impatient move would be to throw together a book proposal and try to pitch anyway.

But in publishing, as in anything, you have one chance to make a good first impression.

Don’t mess it up by sending a proposal for a great book idea when you don’t have the platform to back it up.

Create a Killer Concept

Too many people get an idea for a book and start writing without considering little things like: who will read this? Why will they read it? What makes it unique? What do I want my reader to do with me once they have it? How will I use the book to further my mission?

When people move forward into writing without answering these questions, I’ve witnessed one of two outcomes:

  • They never finish writing it
  • They spend thousands to self-publish a book with no idea who it’s for or what to do with it, and the book dies in oblivion.

Once again, impatience takes a big bite out of an author’s behind.

 An idea is not the same as a clear, salable concept. An idea lacks strategy, focus, and an understanding of where it belongs in the marketplace—what makes it unique. A clear salable concept has focus, and a strategy, and a unique place in the market.

If you are patient enough to take the time to think through all of the vital questions to gain clarity, then you can produce a book that ends up saving you time and helps you achieve your bigger goals.

Write a Quality Book

Contrary to popular belief, people do still read books, and the quality of the content does matter.

I know a lot of “book writing experts” are all about writing a book as fast as you can, as cheaply as you can.

In my opinion, when you crank out a book in this way, all you’re doing is showing the world that you’re the kind of person who cuts corners.

It’s true. It does take longer to write a quality book. There’s a lot of editing, a lot of rewrites, and a lot of content gets thrown away.

It is also true that taking the time to write a thoughtful book where you challenge your own beliefs makes you a better expert. It makes you a stronger authority.

Get it? Yep. There’s a reason why becoming an author adds to your authority. It’s because the process of writing the book makes you a better expert.

But only if you have the patience to write an excellent book.

The Bottom Line is this:

If you want to write an excellent book that transforms others’ lives as it elevates your own, practice patience, and always put your best foot forward, even if it takes a little longer than you wanted.

PS: If you want to see a living document that demonstrates the stages of the traditional publishing process in real time, go check out our blog post called, “The Pipeline,” where we add updates on our clients’ progress as they move through the publishing process.