The Death of a Book: Personal Preference Can Kill!

Photo by Rashtravardhan Kataria on Unsplash

The following article is an excerpt from the section called “Before You Publish” that I wrote for my husband’s book, The Spirit-Led Publishing and Writing Handbook. This is something that we all have to die to when we are publishing. We have to keep our audience in mind, and not just what WE want! If you enjoyed this small section, take a look at the book in our store, or find it on Amazon.

There can be a vast difference between what an author wants a book to be like and what the book actually should be like in order to be trade standard and marketable to the audience they are trying to reach. Many times this difference is because of personal preferences. Some preferences are okay as long as they don’t impact the outcome of the book or affect the book’s ability to captivate a reader from the moment they pick it up.
There are times when authors have been so insistent in having their cover look a certain way that, in spite of our attempts to create a relevant trade-standard cover, they choose their own designs and ideas over ours, only to wonder why their book hardly sold any copies six months later. Their own preferences hindered the effectiveness of the book and caused it to go nowhere fast.
Most of these personal preferences are the result of an author who does not understand the publishing industry, the system that the book has to go though, or has a misunderstanding of what their audience really wants. For instance, many of our authors wanted to have a picture of a relative or something that was meaningful to them in the book that didn’t tie in to their story or teachings in the book itself. They didn’t think about the fact that once the book left their little circle of family and friends, that sentimental snippet would mean nothing to other readers and could take away from the effectiveness of the book.
One author became angry because we actually edited her book and put it into trade standard format (which she already knew we were going to do as it was outlined in the agreement that she signed). We ended up canceling the contract because she mentally shut down and couldn’t accept that her original vision had been changed. She thought we would print it exactly as she had it. Personal preference held the knife that cut the book out of our system.
A few other authors wanted to place things in their books that were not trade standard, such as having the copyright page at the end or other readjustments that are just not done by anyone in the industry. Again, it was their own preference of how they wanted things to be, not thinking at all how they are supposed to be.
The author of our top-selling series was very hands off in the production of the book. He told us his ideas and then let us run with our creativity. The wonderful result was not only something that he believed in, but something we also could believe in because we were allowed to put our best effort into creating it. Because we worked together as a team, all of us were inspired to work harder, dig deeper, and go further. The results were beautiful and very successful. This project is now worth millions of dollars.
Don’t allow your own desires to kill your book before it even hits the marketplace. Remember the ultimate goal is to reach your audience, not to have it look and be exactly what your sentiment dictates. Again, your team or publisher knows your audience, knows the industry, and can best guide your book through the system to be the most effective that it can be. Your book is really not about you, it is about touching the world in a way that they can understand and embrace.

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