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On Writing and Publishing: Section Introduction

When people discover I have written and published a book, some ask, “How long did it take you?” I’ve come to recognize this question indicates the person is thinking about writing their own book. Some wonder how to get it published. Some wonder if having a book will help their business or if they “should” write a book to help their business. Some have a strong ya-ya to share their story, advice, imagination…

I’ve gathered quite a bit of experience as an author, self-publisher, writer for hire, and even ghost-writer. I’ve learned what generally works well, what doesn’t (often learned the traditional hard way), seen how people succeed and how they fail. I’ll share that in this section, starting with this: Do not write a book because you “should.”

You Probably Need to Enjoy Writing

In the 20ish years I’ve been hanging out with other authors, I’ve met a handful who wrote a book because they believed they should do that. A couple were even under contract with a publishing house and had been paid handsome advances. Every single one of these authors absolutely hated the experience, and did not have enough success to make their temporary misery worthwhile.

Mind you, most successful authors struggle with writing, hate certain aspects of writing, and hate all of it for a while here and there. Many work their tushes off but give up on a chapter or idea or an entire book. They also feel an abiding joy in the craft of writing itself even as they deal with challenges. Based on what I’ve seen, you need that genuine love of writing to enjoy real success.

Successful Authors Love Having a Book

What is “success” for happy authors? The heart of success for most is having an actual book. There’s something deeply wonder-full about that — as in wondrous and fulfilling. Positive reviews, solid book sales, compliments from readers and more business…that’s all good, too, yet a pleasure different from the first time we hold our very own published book.

If you like to write, including working hard at it, here’s the next piece of advice: find and use resources.

Successful Authors Have Help

There are many moving parts to writing, publishing, producing and selling a book. The range of help available is vast; from book “midwives,” to various flavors of editors, to writing clubs, to proofreaders, to book designers, to full service and DIY ebook production, to distributors… This list could go on and on. Knowing what you need versus what you want can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are resources to help you wade through it all.

My favorite resource is Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. If you’re lucky enough to be able to attend their meetings in Novato, California — go for it. If not, see if there are similar organizations in your area. BAIPA’s newsletter and member resources may also be worth the cost of membership.

Tip: There are many generous, experienced, wise people who attend BAIPA’s and similar meetings, as well as narrow-minded, bossy people. Don’t let the latter force you to do anything. Seek out and talk with experienced people who calmly offer information, especially those who offer suggestions with pros and cons so you can make your own choices.

You May Want to Start With This

A while back, I was part of a panel of authors who spoke about their inspiration, personal how-to’s, and resources. Many of our tips, and the basic moving parts, are captured in the Notes document linked below. As indicated in the Notes, you’re welcome to contact myself and the authors mentioned. Each of us had help on our way to success, we’ll be happy to do the same for you.

Notes on How to Write and Sell a Book

 

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