Do you have a book in you? Tips and tactics for making your dream a reality
Why do you want to write a book?
Satisfy a dream
To help others
To make money
All of the above
My experience, doing it for love and service
Why I decided to write my book: healing myself of cancer
How I found sources: Help A Reporter Out, LIVESTRONG, networking
God inspired; not driven by money. Pressure was lessened by knowing I was doing God’s will and that my main goal was to help others and myself.
Thought first about getting it written; not published
Learn by doing: went from “How can I call myself a writer?” to making it part of who I am.
Shaping your topic
Do a basic outline of what your book will entail.
What is your main message ; take-away?
Ask yourself, “why would someone want to read my book?” Who is your audience ?
Why are you the best person to write it (expertise, connections, etc.)
Research similar books and how they are put together. How will your book differ? Go to bookstores, get on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, etc.
Keeping in the flow
Hardest part, besides starting a book, is keeping going.
Make sure you set aside time at least once a week so you stay in the flow.
Writing a blog will not only help you develop an audience, it will make writing come easier. What you don’t use, you lose. You may even be able to use some of your material for your book.
Read books and magazines with a different focus. Look at writing styles and how author presents the topic. It may spark ideas and improve your writing.
Set a schedule with deadlines and milestones (i.e., complete chapter 3 by March 1).
Get a coach to keep you on track. (Mine was my husband.)
It’s not over until your editor sings!
If you want to get it right, hire an editor. Nothing cheapens your book more than typos and errors.
Good editors do more than proof; they help shape your book for readers, fact-check, and give you much-needed support.
Even after editing, found mistakes. Have at least two people proof your book for errors. They’ll have a fresh eye even your editor doesn’t have.
Don’t rush it. Let it sit for a few days before looking at it again. If you’re too close to it, you’ll miss things.
Don’t be discouraged. I found errors even after everyone looked at it several times. It’s par for the course when you’re writing a book.
It’s worth a reprint if you’ve release your book with mistakes.
Traditional publishing Literary agents
It is becoming increasingly competitive to get a book published due to shrinking budgets and risks associated with first-time authors.
For large publishing houses, like Random House and Wiley, you have to have a literary agent. He/she is the conduit who brings your work to a publisher. Real agents don’t charge money (beware of those who do), but take a percentage of your royalties if you’re published.
Smaller publishers don’t require agents. Check Writers Market and bookstore in local section to find local publishers.
Agents are gatekeepers; their job is to weed out manuscripts to find the most marketable ones. It is not uncommon for an agent to have a pile of 500 manuscripts sitting in their slush pile.
Literary agents (cont.)
You need to be perseverant and have thick skin. I’ve heard from some first-time writers who have been rejected up to 100 times.
You will need a query and book proposal if you want to approach an agent or a publisher.
A must-read even if you’re self-publishing: How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen.
Some sources to find agents: Writer’s Market (for agents, publishers, etc.); www.GuidetoLiteraryAgents.com , www.AgentQuery.com .
A common theme I heard when talking to agents: “You need a platform and need to be at it for at least three years or have at least 10,000 followers.”
I did not want to wait, so I took the self-publishing route. God and my friend Jami (who funded my expenses) led me to this.
Self published books are on the rise . Last year 764,448 were produced.
Traditional published books are down . Only 288,355 produced last year, down 3.2 percent) due to economy, rise of Internet and ebooks, etc.
Advantages : easy entry, larger royalties, more control, many choices
Disadvantages : No distribution, still doesn’t hold the prestige of traditionally published book (perception of quality can be low, but it’s improving)
The majority of self-published books sell 100 or fewer copies.
Some self-published books become bestsellers ! Chicken Soup for the Soul, What Color is Your Parachute, The Celestine Prophesy , A Time to Kill
These authors sold on their own, then a major publisher picked them up .
Self publishing options
Self publishing is defined by the author paying for services
Print on demand : Can order as many or as few as you want. CreateSpace (mine), Lulu, Author House
For a cost, most will provide services such as layout, marketing and promotion assistance, distribution and more.
Network with other authors, do online research - search writing blogs, online forums to find the best one for you. I chose CreateSpace upon the recommendation of an author friend and learning they were owned by Amazon, had a wholesale distribution option, etc.
eBooks are growing
You may want to consider doing an ebook to reach a wider audience
eBook sales almost doubled over 2010 and now make up 9% of total consumer book sales, according to the Association of American Publishers.
Create Space will convert your book for $69; you put it up on their platform. There are other avenues, as well.
Different eReaders: Kindle (Amazon), Nook (Barnes and Noble), Sony Reader, Kobo eReader
Just launched my book on Kindle. Wish me luck!!!
CreateSpace has a very low point of entry if you do it all yourself.
My goal: look and read like a traditionally published book.
Even though I’m a writer, I hired an editor (invaluable!). Editing, fact-checking, ideas for book elements and a publishing prospective.
I did not like the template book cover options CreateSpace provided, so I hired a designer friend who gave me a very low fee. Warning: friends don’t let friends provide services for free!
I did use CreateSpace’s custom internal design services but they have free templates you can use.
You need a platform
Regardless if you get published or do it on your own, you need to market your book.
You could hire a publicist but the downside is expense and mixed results.
Traditional publishers do very little marketing, and if they do, it’s just when the book is released.
You need a platform – continual promotion to ensure visibility throughout the country or at least in the area you are targeting.
You must be tireless if you want the book to sell. A newspaper article or blog mention does not necessarily equate to sales.
The key: Develop a relationship with your readers and potential readers.
How to develop a platform
The best time to build a platform is before you publish your book.
Blog: position yourself as an expert or at least a purveyor of information that’s important to readers. It’s also a way to make readers feel a connection and relationship to you. You should blog at least once or twice a week to maintain an audience.
Networking : Face-to-face and social media is essential for developing an audience. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the basics. Linked In groups are wonderful ways to get your message across and connect with like-minded individuals. It’s also a good idea to network with other bloggers and comment on their sites.
Speaking engagements/book signings : Are there organizations that would be receptive your message?
Bookstore signings : Borders and independent bookstores are open to self-published authors.
Video trailers on You Tube (see mine on www.MiracleSurvivors.com)
Make sure your pitches are targeted. Know the medium and its audience.
Try to find a local angle and an intriguing human interest component.
Consider a visual component for TV; audio for radio.
Look for a news trend: For example, breast cancer awareness month was a big opportunity for me. A breast cancer author got a quote in a major paper when Elizabeth Edwards died because Ms. Edwards was in her book.
Make sure to follow up if you can, but don’t be a nuisance. Reporters are busy and sometimes will miss an email. But sometimes they don’t follow up because they’re not interested.
If you have a media interview, practice and be prepared beforehand. Especially for TV and radio, the news wants answers that are concise and to the point.
Don’t get discouraged
Building an audience takes time, but can be very satisfying. My blog has been viewed by more than 12,000 people around the world since its inception on Sept. 11, 2009.
Numbers aren’t everything. My book sales are only a fraction of the people on my blog. Most people do not make a lot of money on books. Think of your higher purpose.
My philosophy: If I helped one person by providing hope; my efforts are worth it.
How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen
Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual
Writer’s Market : Where and How to Sell What you Write: F&W Publications
Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
The Everything Grammar and Style Book by Susan Thurman
Associated Press Stylebook
Women Writing for A Change: Holds classes and workshops for writers; has a co-ed course, as well. 6906 Plainfield Rd. (Silverton) Phone: 513-272-1171.
Web sites for agents: www.GuidetoLiteraryAgents.com , www.AgentQuery.com . http:// www.querytracker.net /