What Will Be the Lifespan of Your Book? Plan While You Are Writing It!

489343960 364daa0308 m What Will Be the Lifespan of Your Book? Plan While You Are Writing It!
Image by Billie Hara via Flickr

Is your book dated? As you are writing, ask yourself:

  • Is this a book I can sell forever?
  • Am I jumping on a trend and expect it to be over in 2-5 years (and that is okay)?
  • Is this a book that will be dated, but I can do revisions and continue to resell it?

The goal as an author, I believe, should be to aim for number 1 or 3 if possible.  I had actually planned to do a revised version of So You Want to Start a Chronic Illness Pain Ministry, but as I flipped through it and started planning, it turned into an entirely different book, How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry. It went from 70 pages to over 300 and is much more thorough, based on my years of experience between the two books and the hundreds of emails I’d answered with people’s questions. It just made sense to write a new book, not revise the older one.

Is your material going to quickly be dated? If you are writing on the topic of using Facebook to market your business, realize that if you are going with a traditional publisher, by the time the book is published, it may be outdated. And the people who would typically be your best consumers will realize this. As they are doing an Amazon.com search for books on this topic, they will sort by “date published.”

You may also be eater to do a revised version in five or ten years, but write about topics where you are the expert and will always be referred to as such in that field.

One example is, the originally self-published, “What Color is Your Parachute?” Obviously, how one looks for a job has changed considerably since the book was originally written in 1978, but people are still looking for jobs! So author, Richard Nelson Bolles, recently put out a newly revised edition. (Visit Amazon here to see just how many revisions!)

If you decided to write something like “chick lit” that talks about watching American Idol and hanging out at Starbucks, it may appear very dated in just five years (Okay, Starbucks will always be around, but they’ll probably be much more than a coffee house in five years, right?) And with Simon Cowell leaving AI this week, well, that season of interest has long since passed by.

It’s a general consensus that you make more money with a good back-list title than you can be as a best-seller. A backlist book can sell for decades.  This is a good thing to consider while writing your book. Do you want or expect to rewrite it in a few years, and what is your publisher’s expectations?

 What Will Be the Lifespan of Your Book? Plan While You Are Writing It!

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