Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding the Answer - How do I....?

I recently had the privilege of attending the BEA Book Expo and signing books in the Strategic Publishing Group Booth. During my time at the trade show I was approached by numerous individuals who attended the show in hopes of figuring out how to a) write the book they had always dreamed of writing, b) find a publisher to publish their work, c) find someone (anyone, really) who might believe in their ability, talent and vision. 

It is sometimes difficult to provide an answer to the question without discouraging the person who stands before you, anxious for you to say the words they have come to hear. The reality is that the prospect of writing and publishing a book is overwhelming and that, once the book is published, the journey has only just begun. Unless you are Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Stephen King or an Oprah Book Club choice, you will find yourself responsible for promotion, marketing, scheduling events and appearances and generally hawking the book. With the advent of self-publishing, there are millions of authors giving voice to their stories. That choice is wonderful for the reader but it is also overwhelming. When a reader has to choose a new book and spend hard-earned money, they usually revert to the familiar and buy the book written by a well-known author.

I don't mean to discourage the budding writer, but the real truth is that your vision must be so strong and your devotion to writing and publishing YOUR book must be so strong that you don't care if 5 people or 500 people read what you have written. If you have the money to put toward the publishing process, do the research and find the RIGHT self-publishing that will support the author with a menu of services from which they can choose. If you choose to do most of the work yourself, that is fine. If you choose to pay for the services, be sure the publisher offers these services. Editing, marketing, sponsored events you can attend, etc. Some self-publishing houses will print whatever you give them and the result will look unprofessional. What does that mean? It means that you have even less chance of getting a reader to pick up the book and read the jacket. The book must LOOK as professional as the writing inside. 

Ask for and pay for help where you need it. If you are not an out the work. If you are not a cover designer, get someone else to design the cover for you. The story is your creation (your baby) and you love it. You want others to love it as well. If you are going to sell any books, you must present your work professionally.

When an author approaches you and asks 'how do you write a book?', 'how do you get a book published', be brutally honest about the challenge. It will save the less-than-dedicated a lot of stress and heartache. IF the author really does have vision and devotion to the project, he or she will write and publish the book in spite of the challenges and perhaps that book will have an impact on ONE person. If it does, it has served its purpose! Anything more than one reader is a wonderful surprise!

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