Not since the invention of movable type has the publishing industry experienced a revolution as dramatic as the one brought about by modern technology and the internet.
When my first book came out at the tail end of the 20th century, it was through a traditional publisher, with a contract secured by a traditional literary agent. Promotion was done through traditional media outlets. Fast forward to current times where tradition has been turned completely on its head. If you are just starting out on the road to publication, here are a few tips to help you navigate the changing landscape.
How does an ant move a mountain?
When I read Dan Miller’s workbook, Write to the Bank, I thought he was grossly exaggerating when he said writing was 5% of the job. The first draft of my first book was almost finished. It had been no quick feat. Surely the bulk of the work would be done when it was complete.
While Dan was emphasizing the importance of promotion, I discovered writing and publishing a book involve many steps. For me, that included a lot of learning.
Learning by Doing
If you’re anything like me, writing about ideas comes easily, but coming up with topics or angles can be difficult. It always seems to start out well, but after several days, weeks, or even months after launching out into the world of writing regularly, coming up with new topics can become mentally draining.
I struggled with constantly coming up with blogging topics for several years. Far too often, the early mornings of my scheduled post day would find me pecking away at my keyboard, writing whatever was on my mind, primarily because I had no idea what to write about, what angle to take, or what problem to solve. I procrastinated on writing, and the blog suffered as a result. It was this way for me in 2011, 2012, and in 2013 I stopped writing the blog altogether—at least for that year.
At the beginning of 2014, I set an audacious goal to write two posts per week.
Start Writing. Now.
“How long does it take to write a book?”
That’s the most common question I hear at author visits. And the answer is: “It depends.” It depends on how much focus goes into the project and how much time is devoted to it. It can take a few weeks or a few years.
Here’s what I’ve learned firsthand and seen my clients realize, as well: Thinking and talking about writing a book is harder than actually writing a book.
How many times have you said, “I’m working on a book,” knowing full well that you haven’t put pen to paper in weeks? The phrase “a little less talk and a a lot more action” aptly applies to would-be authors. Don’t put it off any longer. Start writing. Now.
Prolific. What else would you call an author who publishes four to six novels annually?
I suppose you could also call Nora Roberts wealthy since her books consistently and almost instantly hit the New York Times bestsellers lists.
Tea at Ashford Castle in Cong is as beautiful as it is tasty.
I got to meet Nora (she called me Erin, so I guess we’re on a first-name basis) at Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland, and was oddly star-struck. Odd because, although I’ve met quite a few celebrity-status authors, I felt absolutely giddy to have the opportunity to have afternoon tea with Nora…and a couple hundred other people. I was so excited, in fact, that my friend and I arrived early and snagged a seat at the front table. (Early is a big deal for me; just ask my husband.)
Afterwards, when her UK editor at Little Brown told me that Nora (aka J.D. Robb) publishes at least four books a year (she’s releasing a total of five in 2014), I almost choked. That’s a LOT of writing and a massive amount of discipline. There’s another descriptor to attribute to this impressive and totally approachable author.
Sometimes you write because you’ve been changed, and sometimes you’re changed in the process of writing. In this guest post, Jenny Hester shares how crafting a book opened her life in unexpected ways.
I never thought I would write a book. I’m still having trouble saying, “I am an author.” I started blogging more than a year ago as a way to share my new found love of discovering what it takes to be one’s best self. Not long after that, I decided to write my book… what a journey of self-discovery!
I used to have walls built up and you only got to see what I wanted you to see. You only saw what was on the outside, as I typically shared no emotional depth. I look back over this time in my life and I relate it to a tightly wound rose bud. My friend, I was very tightly wound.
Set a timer.
“Time stays long enough for those who use it.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
If you find yourself watching the clock during your dedicated writing time for fear of missing other appointments, set a timer. Let that little time tracker free your mind from worrying about when you need to come out of hiding.
Thanks to Tim Bishop, for sharing his thoughts on writing from the road in this guest post. Tim and his wife, Debbie, will be touring through mid-September, writing as they go. Read on to learn about how and why they write.
When writing creeps into your bloodstream, it becomes an innate expression of your life experiences, whether or not it covers your bills. You write because you love it…and because you must. When those inflicted with this “bug” embark on one of life’s adventures, they have no choice but to write about it.
You may have a powerful message to share, but your book isn’t for everyone.
The first question you should ask when writing anything is: Who is the audience? Defining your audience before you write the first word will help you craft a message that hits the mark.
Where’s Your Cover?
Make it easy for the press to promote your book! Include a print-quality image of your book’s cover on its media page for magazines and newspapers to download.
(Yes, your book should have a media page!)
Here are a few more tips on how to work with reviewers.