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 while others rush to the cash register with their copy.

Feel free to continue this fantasy as you finish your manuscript, but in order to make that dream come true, the time is coming when you have to stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a publisher.

Whether you are going to publish the book yourself or work to have it published by a mainstream publishing house, believe it or not, writing the book was the easy part. Your work is just beginning.

The first step on this journey to being published is to realize that 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 that of the consumer.

If you’re truly serious about getting your book published, then you need to shake off the fantasies and take a good, hard look at the challenges ahead. This isn’t meant to discourage you. On the contrary, 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 bedside table is arduous. I know that, as a writer, 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 to help you overcome the obstacles and push forward during the final stretch: knowledge.

Take the time to learn about the industry as a whole, how to think like a publisher, and what steps to take to create a successful book. Step by step, maneuver the book industry’s websites, discussion groups, newsletters, and advice forums.

Here are some important sites and newsletters that will help you learn more about the industry. Check them out online!

Author’s Boutique
Publishers Marketplace
Publishers Lunch
Publishers Weekly
Shelf Awareness
New Shelves

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 and explore the book industry and learn everything you can about that oh-so-important part of the publishing industry: 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.

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