By Jennifer S. Wilkov, host of the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show on WomensRadio
As authors and writers, we’re always learning about resources and industry tools that we can use to improve our book project performance and the enjoyment of our writing and marketing experiences. Today let’s talk about the truth about where books come from.
You know, it’s like “the talk” about where babies come from. After all, our books are our babies, aren’t they? And subsequently don’t they also become the babies of our literary agent, publisher, editor and publicist?
But they have to start somewhere and that somewhere is with someone – like you.
Books are born from aspects of our life experiences – from our “story.” They emanate from our fascination with life, creativity, imagination and our humanity. They are seared into our hearts and bubble up in our souls as something we become determined to write about and share with others.
Many books these days are coming from these real life stories. In fact, as Deborah Brody, the Executive Editor at Harlequin Nonfiction said during her interview on the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show this week, something like 60% of books being published these days are nonfiction.
Like Staness Jonekos, Harlequin author of the book, The Menopause Makeover: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Control Of Your Health and Beauty During Menopause, authors are experiencing life and looking for resources when life events strike because that’s what we do. We look for a book about what’s happening to us. We figure someone else must have written about that so I could use their guidance. Like Staness, when we find there is no such resource or book, we have to live through the situation and circumstance first, find the answer and then dig down deep and make a huge commitment to humanity that we will write and share it with others. That way when they go to the book shelf, they’ll find what we were originally looking for and find the book we wish we had found there.
I know this journey personally as an author myself. That’s what I’ve done: provided good books that I saw were needed by myself and others to support individuals living through a situation or circumstance that I had had myself. In my most recent book, Boys Before Business: The Single Girl’s Guide to Having It All, I lived through the process of really finding Mr. Right after feeling like I had read all the books about it and still found myself alone. That journey alongside my co-author opened up a whole world of insights and information for us that we felt compelled to share with the other women in our lives that we knew who were successful in business like we were but that were also alone with no one to share their lives with, just like we had been.
It’s not important that there are other books in the category and subject matter on the shelf. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never written anything before resembling a book or even an article. It’s not required. What is required is you and your desire to write it.
Even fiction and children’s books burble up from the course of our lives. Just look at bestselling novelist Nicholas Sparks, who writes about his own life and shares it with others through fiction that resembles what he’s seen, heard and felt himself.
And when an adult takes on a fascination for the love between a child and her fluffy stuffed animal toy, he writes about it even when he’s been an engineer all his life. That’s what Mike McRitchie did with his first book entitled, Best Friends, a self-published book that he wrote after watching a little girl in the airport drag her stuffed bunny everywhere with her and subsequently asked his 11 year old daughter, Cathleen, to illustrate the book when he was done writing it.
We often say that life imitates art. In the book world and as an author, art imitates life.
Think about your life and the last time you went looking for a book about something you were experiencing or were interested in. Was it there on the shelf? Did you wish there was another book that was more in the style and structure you’d like to read? Were you willing to write it when it wasn’t there or did you settle for what you found and left the thought of writing a book behind?
It is the authors that have the courage and fortitude to take on the challenge of sharing that aspect of their story after they’ve lived through it and who invest their time and energy to craft the solution they wish they’d had. They stay the course, put their hearts and souls into learning the process and follow the path to get it published so you, the next person in the same predicament, can find it.
John Steinbeck said: “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”
Contrary to John Steinbeck, who I love and have admired for years, what you are writing could very well be the most important thing in the world – to your reader.
And so… that’s where books come from: the hearts, souls, spirits and, more often than not, the real lives of the authors.
The next time you find yourself staring at the bookshelf in the bookseller or online and can’t seem to find the book you’re looking for, remember that it could be a sign that it’s your time to become an author and that your baby, I mean book, is about to be born.