One thing we frequently discuss with aspiring authors is whether it’s possible to build a reputation, and a successful writing career, with just one book.
The simple answer is, no. To be recognised as an author, you really need to have the weight of several books in your repertoire, but really the discussion is about whether you can launch a writing career with just one book under your belt.
There are arguments for both sides. Let’s be honest, it’s a struggle to get your first book out into the world. Not just the mammoth effort of actually writing the words, but the huge learning curve to navigate editing, formatting, cover design options and self publishing platforms. Not to mention the post-publication marketing efforts to actually produce any sales.
Some would say, if you’re going to such a huge effort, you may as well do it for two books as well as one. Others would say, just get the first book published, and then you have all your learnings in place to make the second one go a little more smoothly! The route you take really depends on your approach to writing, your reasons for writing, the time and effort you can fit into writing around your ‘real’ life, and your personality type. There’s no right or wrong answer, just consider what will work best for you.
Some authors wait until they have their second book ready, so they can only use the first book as a free promotion to entice people to try the first book for free, and then hand over their actual hard-earned cash for the second book. This can be a successful marketing strategy. It’s a realistic approach; certainly it considers the mindset of the buyer above that of the author. However, it seems a shame to put all that work into your fist book, only to give it away for free.
If you do take this approach, and there’s no doubt it can boost sales and create a loyal readership for an unknown author, think of it as a temporary measure. Just because you do offer your first book for free initially, doesn’t mean you have to do this forever. Keep a close eye on sales, and continue with follow-up marketing to your reader base, with a view to making money on your first book also in the long run.
When it comes to promotions, it’s true that it’s just as easy (or difficult) to promote two books as one, so why not kill two birds with one stone, and market your first two books at the same time. This is a good way to reach a wider audience, particularly if your books focus on different subject matters, or perhaps are aimed at entirely different audiences all together.
Finally, don’t let the fact of not yet having a second book ready put you off just taking the plunge with the first one. The worst thing to do is to delay publishing or marketing book one, in anticipation of book two. Unless you have a thought-out strategy to produce a second book and promote this in conjunction with book one, our advice would be, just go for it!
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.