You want to write?
Many people ask me how to get started or walk up at shows and say, “I wrote a book!” but have not published it or put anything together. There are also numerous people who have partially written manuscripts or great ideas and they never seem to come to fruition. Does that describe one of your situations?
Well I’m going to help you out just a little today. There are actually a lot of people that can help you. Before you start searching the Internet and dropping large amounts of cash read the rest of this.
Question 1: Are you finished?
If you have a completely written book and don’t know what to do with it, I’ll get to you in a second. I know you’ll want to skip ahead but don’t do it just to make sure that we’re on the same page. There are two types of finished. One is a finished story and the other is a finished manuscript ready for print. The second one requires editing and usually numerous iterations before getting to that final state. Depending upon where you are we’ll set the tone for the next two items.
If you are just starting to write or need help writing consider joining a local group, a work group, or working with a coach. There are some good systems out there that can help you along and if you’re interested you may want to look up Imaginative Storm and their approach. If you have not written start writing and write every day. Writing is a habit and it is important for you to develop your writing if you are going to complete a book. Whether you are writing poetry, or novels, or a life history it will take time and using your intellectual prowess to complete the process.
Question 2: Have you edited the manuscript?
I have to say that editing is a pain in the butt. Because I read very fast I often find that I jump over my own errors because I don’t expect there to be any. Imagine my surprise when in my first book I got slaughtered for it. I had a super story and fantastic characters but the editing was less than perfect. This is where you should spend some time and listen to people. If you think your story is perfect and you don’t require any help and everything that you have put together should be exactly as it is go ahead and print your book and see how many times people come back to you with errors. I can actually give you the names of a few people who can find errors in traditionally published books. This gets you to question 3.
Question 3: How do you want to publish?
There are obviously several choices for publishing your book. There are also a lot of companies that will help you along or help themselves depending upon the company. Before you spend a considerable amount of money on a publisher who will charge you over $10,000 to publish your book read the rest of this. You can of course find an agent and submit your manuscript or part of your manuscript to the agent, and they can shop you to different publishers traditionally. When talking to major publishing houses, I spoke to one and they were honest with me and told me that unless I was famous or had a huge following they would not be interested. They went further to state that the content is no longer as important as the person who has authored the book. In this day and time, they are selling the author. If you decide to go traditional expect more work than people had in the past. It will be necessary for you to be involved in numerous areas and marketing will be a challenge.
You can also find a company that will help you. Those companies will use their imprint and help you along as a Small Press. Small Press publishers have the advantage of working with numerous authors under a single umbrella but there are still costs involved and it is likely that you will spend a little money, but it won’t be horrible.
Another choice is self-publishing. Contrary to popular belief a self-published author is an author. Anyone throwing disparaging remarks at self-published authors is likely lost in the past and has not read a considerable number of self-published books. I have read hundreds of self-published books and many are fantastic. There are, of course, some that are less than pleasing or not done using a standard. You can self-publish a book for almost no cost out of pocket. It is important to remember though that your time should be factored into everything. Talk to someone about self-publishing if you’re interested and let them help you along. Since there are multiple options for self-publishing it is important to realize the strengths and weaknesses of all of them.
The last option I would suggest is vanity press. There are numerous vanity presses that will charge you some money to get your book out there. Usually that cost is considerable but they take care of most of it and happily take care of draining your bank account. That’s not to say that they don’t do work but you have to remember that to break even you will have to sell a number of books before even coming close to breaking even. Sit down and do the numbers before you drop $10,000 or more on a vanity press, or write a check to me, I will happily take it.
Question 4: Who are you writing for?
This is a question a lot of people skip, and I suppose it could be a little further up. A great many people who visit me at my booths walk up and tell me all about the book they’re going to write. It is about their life and it is the most important thing in the world and everyone will want to read their book. When I ask them what makes their story so special the response is often crickets and sometimes a blank look. There are some people who have very interesting stories and everyone has a story to tell that is meaningful and powerful. That doesn’t mean that everyone wants to read it. Consider who you are writing for and manage your expectations. I started this journey in 2015 and I have seen numerous authors just stop. Many of them had very good books but couldn’t connect with the people they needed to. Some of them had books that weren’t as good. Some of them just wanted to write a book to say they had written it. Decide how you want to approach things because no matter how you approach your writing journey you are going to invest time. You could invest money and a lot of other things but time is precious as well and remember to factor that into everything you do.
Question 5: How do you market?
There is a scene in a movie called “Taken” where Liam Neeson tells the kidnappers that he will find them. The reply was “good luck”. This is a very valid statement when it comes to marketing your book. What works for one may not work for another and this is where publishing houses get it right. They have the numbers and the ads to press people into looking at the book or clicking a link. Word of mouth will only get you so far. Shows and events will take you a little further. Book signings may take you a little further than that. In the end there is a combination of advertising mediums that may help you get to success, or they may not. Whether you are working alone or with other people this will be where you spend the most time. The functional dynamics of writing your book will take a while, maybe a very long while. The ongoing marketing will be there until the point that you no longer market. It will definitely be up to you to help drive your book to success. It will also be important to engage where necessary. If you are an introvert you need to work on this because you will be asked for interviews if you start achieving success. Never pass one up. I have been on television and radio and numerous other mediums along with dozens of podcasts. If it is out there my hope is to put my name out further and at one point it may catch.
It’s really obvious that this is just a start and this could be an entire book on its own. There are numerous. I’m going to suggest a few sites that you can go to that may help:
Of these three sites, pages promotions can help you along as an editing and publishing service. Imaginative Storm and Mark Dawson’s page approach writing and the entire process.
If you find this helpful or are interested in me writing more or focusing on different areas, let me know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.