Book Business

The Myth of Foolproof Publishing

To be honest, it is a myth. There is no such thing as foolproof book publishing. In fact, publishing content of any type—books, Bibles, audiobooks, music, magazines, Gospel tracts or anything else—contains a level of risk, both financial and response wise.

While there is no guarantee of publishing success, there is an absolute ironclad guarantee an author will not meet expectations if they don’t put forth effort in at least some areas of the publishing process.

If you don’t focus on quality creative writing, bring original insight to your work, proceed without any inspiration or energy, pay no attention to an author marketing platform, and don’t spend any time learning how publishing works, the results will speak for themselves.

The fast lane to disappointment.

But, again, even if you try to do everything right, there is still no guarantee of success.

It is why book publishing is so frustrating. When it doesn’t turn out the way you want, it’s almost like you didn’t do anything right at all when, in fact, you did.

Every agent who met with an author at a writers conference, gave some advice, then met with the same author a year or two later, has heard, “I did everything you said.” (Of course, I want to be reminded what I told them!) The author is greatly disillusioned when it still wasn’t enough or, worse yet, there’s another list of things to do for the next year.

Publishing is like so many other things in life: We never totally “arrive.”

All the things that make for a successful author need to be continually pursued and developed but are never fully accomplished. You never achieve complete perfection and readiness for publishing success.

Every competitive-performance profession has the same issue. Those who are part of it continually hone their craft, and the profession is filled to the brim with people desiring to compete and perform. Sports, creative arts, education, medicine, and business are overflowing with talent and eager people.

But there are people who do everything right and still do not succeed.

The athlete who is thoroughly prepared physically and mentally just doesn’t hit the ball as well or run as fast as another.

The singer who had a head cold the day of the big audition.

The actor completely prepared for the reading but “wasn’t quite right” for the part.

The person who has multiple advanced degrees and still can’t get a job teaching.

The business person who does everything they can to succeed and yet still fails.

And, writers, it’s a tough road. All the variables that go into getting a book published, from quality of writing to a substantial-enough platform, are subjective and immune from foolproof measurement. No magic wand and no formula.

Except for the formula to failure: not putting forth the requisite effort.

So how do you keep going, knowing all the hard work might never pay off?

You do the one thing that allows anyone to do anything challenging. You keep your eye on the goal. The finish line. The mission to be accomplished.

For Christian authors, because the goal is often quite audacious and part of our service to the Creator God, not meeting an expectation is often more disappointing as they might feel like they somehow let God down.

Like that could ever happen.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39, NIV).


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