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The alternative to being picked

Until ten years ago, if you had to publish a book, you had to write it in such a way that it would be picked by all the gatekeepers - the agents, the editors, the publishers, the bookstores, the reviewers. But today, you can write your book, skip all the gatekeepers and publish it yourself.

I did this with my first book.

But, this is not the same as being published by a big publishing house and being reviewed by the popular newspapers and authors. Whether it is better or worse depends on what your expectations are, but it is definitely not the same.

When I go out to pick up a book to read, I am far more likely to buy the book of an author that I have previously heard about and have read something by, or an author who has been recommended to me by someone I trust (either a friend or a review in a popular newspaper), or at least from a major publishing house or a bestseller than I am to pick up a book from an author who is none of the above.

When I wrote and published my first book, I was none of the above. To a large population of book buyers.

But not to everyone.

There were some people that regularly read my work. These are the people that read my daily blog posts, the people who have signed up to my email newsletter, the people who have given me permission to send my writing their way.

And these are the people that bought my book.

If you want to publish a book, you have two routes. You can pander to the gatekeepers and do what it takes to be picked by them. Because when they publish your book, you will also get access to the goodwill that they have with their audience.

Or, you can do it yourself and skip the gatekeepers. While this is easy enough to do, you need to be aware that the audience that you will have access to is the ones who have engaged with your writing before. And the only way to build that audience is to show up everyday and to share your ideas with them and see if it resonates.

The alternative to being picked is to show up everyday. Consistently.

(Hat-tip to Seth Godin)

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