By Guest Blogger, Summer Whitford, Author
So you think you want to write a book? That’s great. But like any important decision in life, you need to do your homework and find out everything you can about the process and determine if a book is the right project for you. To help you decide and give you some ideas about how to market your book, I have written a guide that gives you an overview of what to consider. It’s called Truth or Dare: What You Need To Know About Writing A Book.
Writing a book can be creatively and financially rewarding but it involves a significant commitment of time, energy, money, and…TONS OF WORK.
Forget any romantic notions you may have about “the writer’s life”. Contrary to what you might think, getting published generally does not lead to fame and fortune. It’s hard work and can be an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. You also need to be able to handle the repetition involved in editing and re-editing, because in reality writing is all about editing – it’s what is at the core of being a good writer.
Being a published author is a wonderful credential that raises your credibility and makes you an expert in your field in the eyes of others. Plus, few people can claim to have achieved such an accomplishment. There are other intrinsic benefits to getting a book published. For instance, it can lead to other paid opportunities, help your business and/or other accomplishments gain attention, get your work/business into the media, and make you stand out from others in your field.
How do I know this? Because I have promoted other authors’ books, have been a ghost writer and “book doctor”, and now have my own book out entitled Join Us At The Embassy. With each book I have gained invaluable hands-on experience and insight into just how hard it is to find a publisher, write the book, and then sell it. Taking into account that my experience may be different from other authors’ experiences, the importance of having a well organized marketing strategy is universal, no matter what your genre or whether you are self-published or not.
I am lucky because my agent Diane Nine, President of Nine Speakers, Inc., has shown me the ropes over the years by hiring me to do proposals for others, do book tours for her clients, help with publicity, and gotten me gigs as a writer, ghost writer, editor, and “book doctor” and shown me how things work behind-the-scenes. She has also been an invaluable resource and sounding board for my growth as a writer, helped steer me in the right direction when I’ve gotten off-track, and shown me how to improve my marketing approaches by saving time, money, and effort.
If you love writing, love books, love reading, and think you have a story to tell, read on.
Perhaps one of the most invaluable lessons I have learned from Diane is how important it is for first-time book authors, whether they are journalists, published writers, etc. to think through the decision to write a book. Before she ever agrees to take on a client, she tells them that there are some questions they need to ask themselves.
How they answer the questions plays a big part in whether or not they really are ready to write a book. These questions can’t be answered with a cavalier attitude because those who are not brutally honest about their abilities and limitations are doomed before they even get started.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you decide to write a book or contact an agent:
- Do I have a marketable idea (for non-fiction) or well told story (for fiction)?
- Does my book idea or story have a large enough audience to make it appealing to a publisher?
- Can I really write? If not, am I willing to work with a ghost writer?
- Can I take criticism of my work?
- Do I have an agent?
- Do I understand how the proposal and publisher submission process works?
- Can I really write and organize the information into a sellable product that a publisher will want to buy?
- Do I have the time to write and then market the book once it is published?
- Do I have the support system in place to help me manage the book research and writing?
10. Do I have the money to help with the marketing and publicity of the book?
11. Do I have the contacts/time/drive/resources to effectively market and publicize the book?
Agent Etiquette 101
If you have honestly answered the above questions, then you might just be able to move on to the next phase which is finding an agent. Every writer has a story about how they found their agent but unfortunately there just isn’t any easy way to get one. Writers Market can help you locate one but please be patient, polite, and respectful of agents’ time when you begin your search.
Just because you have a book idea doesn’t mean that an agent can, should, or will agree to take you on as a client. Your project may not be right for their focus, they may be too busy, or they may just not want to work with you. It’s up to you to not take rejection personally or make a pest of yourself by hounding an agent and trying to bully them into taking you on as a client.
Besides, even if you do find an agent who agrees to represent you, that still isn’t any guarantee that you are talented enough to write a good book. An agent can help you fine tune your idea and concept, guide you through the proposal process, and present the book proposal to publishers but they can’t do the work for you. Keep in mind that your book will only be as good as your writing skills, the amount of time and effort you put into it, and the skills of the editors at the publishing house.
So many people seem fascinated by writing a book but never truly understand the publishing process, even when it’s explained to them by other published authors, agents, and writers’ resources such as The Writer Magazine, Writer’s Digest and scores of others. You should visit these sites and read everything you can on book publishing to get an idea of what’s involved. And don’t always believe what you see on TV and in the movies – nine times out of ten they get anything about writing books wrong. That’s why it’s essential to dispel some of the more prevalent myths out there.