30th November, 2022
7 min read
What do Football and Publishing Have in Common?
As the football World Cup brings the nations together, what top tips can writers looking to get a book published learn from the world of professional football? Well, more than you might expect!
As with all professional sports people, writers who spend time getting ‘match fit’ and doing careful preparation can put themselves in pole position. When it comes to successfully getting a book published, you first need to ensure you’re ready to publish. This means being certain your manuscript is finished and as good as you can make it. Has it been carefully edited? Have you eliminated silly errors? Have you tested the book out on fellow writers or avid readers for feedback? There are no hard and fast rules, but few writers’ work will truly be ready for release after only one or two edits. So make sure you don’t rush the important stages… preparation pays off. No matter how you want to publish your book (see the next section), a manuscript in the best possible shape at the beginning is the best possible start.
All good football coaches research the competition, so to ensure you publish your book in a way that meets your needs, research the opinions available to you. Ask yourself the question: How do I want to get my book published? And understand your options.
Mainstream / Traditional Publishing
A publisher takes your book on and publishes it for you, taking all the financial risk – you make no financial contribution. Getting signed up by a mainstream publisher is not easy, though – nor is it the right choice for everyone – and so a professional approach to submitting your manuscript to publishing companies for consideration is essential. The Writers' & Artists’ Yearbook is full of invaluable advice on how to submit to publishers – and the differing submission processes publishers operate.
Partnership Publishing Options
Perhaps you want to retain more say in how your book is published, so a Mainstream option won’t be for you, as you’ll have precious little say. A halfway house option is to publish your book in partnership with a specialist publishing company, such as The Book Guild Ltd. In Partnership deals, the costs of publication are shared between you and the publishing company. There are many reputable firms that offer Partnership Publishing (like The Book Guild mentioned above), but there are also some less savoury ‘operators’, so make sure you know exactly what the deal on the table is, including your financial contribution, what the end product will be, and where it will be sold. Again, when it comes to how to get a book published, do research and ask to speak to other authors who have used the same company.
Another way to get a book published is via self-publishing. Here you fully fund publication but retain full ownership and control of the process. There are many different companies offering self-publishing as a route to publication, but Troubador is the UK’s most widely recommended, with over 30 years’ of experience working with authors. Troubador offers bespoke and full-service options so that you get to work with a skilled professional team to deliver and market your book. Self-publishing works best for authors who have enjoyed writing and who are keen to get involved and help to market their own work.
Perhaps when considering how to publish a book, you might consider digital publishing, using platforms such as KDP to produce an ebook. Here, you upload all your book’s files and manage all the publishing options via the KDP platform. This route is more suited to writers on a budget or for those who like to take full control and manage the technical and marketing sides of publishing themselves – but obviously, you will only see your work available as an ebook online rather than sold in bookshops. In all cases, when doing your research, ask yourself what you hope to get out of publishing, and this will help you understand how to get your book published to realise your aspirations.
Have a game plan
All footballers need to be aware of the game plan, so make sure you have one too. If you are opting to self-publish or go down the partnership publishing route, you have lots of decisions to make when publishing that can impact its success – or otherwise. So always remember the reasons why you are publishing - but equally important, keep in mind the readership of your book. Knowing who will read your book at the very beginning allows you to create a product that will appeal to that market. It’s not all about how to get the book published either – it’s also about how you will sell and market your book after it has been produced.
Just as in a World Cup-winning football team, as an author considering how to get your book published, you also want the best team with you, playing on your side, to get the best results. The skilled publishing team at Troubador are there to help and advise – many of those we’ve worked with have given fantastic feedback on our professional team as they have worked together with authors to bring a quality book to market: ‘It has been a joy to work with the team at Troubador. They have held my hand through every stage to bring out a high-quality paperback version of my novel A Woman of Noble Wit that I am proud to see on bookshop shelves, as well as leading me through the technicalities of the ebook world’ – Rosemary Griggs.
Knowing how to get a book published involves many different skills and processes - from editing, design, printing, marketing, sales and distribution, plus digital skills for ebooks and audiobooks. Bringing the expertise of a full-service publisher like Troubador onside – like the very best football coaches – sets you up for success. As Troubador's ‘Author Ambassador’ Andy Mullaney comments: ‘The team have made the finished book thousands of times better than I, without any experience or professional knowledge, could have ever done. Their advice along the way was always gentle, and with masses of respect for me and what I was seeking to achieve.’
So however you decide to publish your book, make sure you put the best team in place to help you with those aspects of publishing and marketing you feel less comfortable with.
Writers and Footballers need fans
Football is nothing without fans - and an important task of the writer, regardless of the route taken to publication, is to get the book into the hands of its fans (AKA the readers!). Indie author J. D. Pullen has written a fantastic blog about promoting your book which is a must-read for all authors, but here are some further tips to help you reach your potential fan base.
Ensure you have an ISBN (the unique product identifier available from the UK ISBN agency) and that you have set up the crucial metadata about your book (title, author, how to order) with Nielsen. Do this well before publication - ideally 15 weeks before your official publication date. Incorporate ISBNs into the barcode and pricing information on the back of your book (barcodes are essential for the trade to manage a title in the distribution and sales process). If you are using Troubador as your publisher, we do all of this (and more) as standard.
Closer to publication
Contact booksellers who might be interested in your book and perfect your ‘elevator pitch’ of why they should consider stocking it. Don’t be pushy, but Do read the handy guide produced by the Booksellers Association for some tips on how bookshops work. Again, marketing to the book trade is something Troubador does on behalf of its authors.
Start the media marketing
Create a list of relevant media that might be interested in reviewing your book and create a press release, or press briefing document. Find an angle that will hook the interest of a journalist – but look for something newsworthy or unique about you and your book. Plan your pitch. Remember, some publications have long lead times so if your hook is the anniversary of a specific event, start planning and pitching 2–3 months before that date to meet editorial deadlines.
Consider using social media to promote your book. Facebook is often seen as a solid platform for authors looking to promote - and also has options for some paid advertising that can be carefully focussed to area and demographics. TikTok is the up-and-coming platform getting a lot of attention from publishers, and #BookTok showcases influencers’ favourite books. TikTok has a younger user demographic than Facebook, so it’s romance, dystopian and fantasy books that currently seem to suit the platform best. It’s easy to spend a lot of time concentrating on writing and the steps involved in publishing, but it’s also easy to forget that marketing – and generating fans, readers and reviews – is not something that should just be tacked on at the end, once your book has been published. Putting some planning into the marketing throughout the writing and publishing process will be a game changer.
Deciding how to publish your book and making the best choices around this might seem complicated – but hopefully, we’ve shown you that breaking the process down so that you can think of it differently can help.
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