by Amy Collins

It is every writer’s dream to see his or her book in the front window of the local bookstore. It is fun to imagine tall, colorful stacks of your books surrounded by throngs of curious readers flipping through the pages as others rush to the cash register. Feel free to continue this fantasy as you pound the keyboard, but if you’re interested in turning the vision into reality, then suspend the writing and read on.

In order to make that dream come true, you have to stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a publisher. For publishers, the dream location is not the bookstore shelf; that shelf is simply a short stop on the way to the real destination … a reader’s bookshelf. The only bookshelf that truly counts is the consumer’s. This blog has been created to guide your book into (and then out of) the hands of people who actually paid money to read it.

If you’re truly serious about publishing your book, then you need to shake off the fantasy and take a good, hard look at the challenge ahead. This isn’t meant to discourage you. The better prepared you are, the more successful you will be in reaching your goal.

The path a writer’s work takes through the publishing process, into the retail market, and then onto a consumer’s beside table is arduous. On this journey you will encounter misleading signposts, paths damaged by overuse, and rough road from under-use. But you will also experience a number of wondrous sights and resting places. The sweeps and turns of the publishing path can be fascinating—but even more rewarding if you know the lay of the land ahead of time.

As a writer on the verge of publishing, you are enthusiastic about your work and determined to see it through to book form. While these are certainly helpful qualities in battling the challenges ahead, there is one tool that will help you to overcome the obstacles and push forward during the final stretch: knowledge.

The best way to start a journey is to learn as much about your destination as possible. Once you know where you’re going, you’ll be able to plan your route to get there. So set your writing aside for the moment as we explore the book industry and the oh-so-important destination: the reader.

Amy Collins MacGregor started her career in the book industry as the book buyer for Village Green Books in Upstate, New York. In 1996, she “hopped the desk” and thoroughly enjoyed working as a National Account Rep for Prima Publishing. In 2001, Amy was named Director of Sales at Adams Media in Boston and quickly rose to the Special Sales Director for parent company, F+W Media. Over the years, Amy has sold to Borders, Barnes and Noble, Target, Costco, Wal-mart, and all the major chains as well as help launch several private label publishing programs for chains such as PetSmart and CVS. In February 2006, Amy started The Cadence Group and now runs the fastest-growing book distribution company in North America, New Shelves Distribution, where she offers her sales experience to small publishers and self-published authors.

Image courtesy of Ariel da Silva Parreira.