According to Daneker, when writing non-fiction books for personal or professional reasons, aspiring book authors should be aware of the realities of publishing a book. Here, she gives an in-depth picture of the resources necessary to more effectively see one's book produced and make the dream of book authorship come true. (About.com’s questions and comments are in bold italics).
You've previously mentioned some of the realities of writing a book and getting it published. Would you share with About.com readers what you tell your clients about getting their book written and published into the marketplace?
You probably have a job and you may not want another, even if it’s part-time. But if you are serious about being a book author, you have to treat your time as a writer with the same professionalism as your other work. Block out your writing and research time and tell others “I have to go to work.” Dress for it. Be focused. Your book will not write itself. Protect this time.
What if those friends and family are demanding?
Don’t cave in! Instead, try to enroll them in the process and give them work: researching your competitors, confirming facts, organizing source materials.
No matter how competent an individual contributor you are, you cannot “make a book” by yourself—not a great one, anyway. Writing a book takes a community of resources to create a valuable addition to your genre.
Can you speak to some of the other people you might need?
Sure. Job titles vary, so it helps to think in "skills" —— yours as well as everyone else's. The skills you need around you are:
- Good writing
- Great editing
- Graphic design and (and, possibly, illustration and photography) for your book layout, jackets, etc.
- Sponsorship/representation (for example, a literary agent who can get your work in front of a traditional publisher)
- Production skills and
- Printing partners.
So, presuming you don't have all those skills, any advice on getting your team together?
If you pursue a commercial relationship with a traditional publisher, they usually assign a team of editorial professionals to edit your manuscript and then production professionals get it ready for and through the production processes for print books and/or e-books. If you're going it on your own, choose your partners wisely—get referrals where you can, check their references, and view samples of their work. You can assemble a team through a literary consultancy like Write Advisors or find freelancers that can help you.
Which brings us to the question of money...
In addition to the time and energy you pour into developing and writing your book, you will at the very least be paying for office supplies, and very likely be paying for at least some of the resources just mentioned.
Unfortunately, "costs" don’t stop there: There are “opportunity costs” that you will incur—like the cost of staying home to review manuscript edits instead of going away over a holiday weekend!
How do you account for those costs?
Plan a careful budget, and get realistic estimates about known costs. Try to budget against that. Be realistic about the opportunity costs—the cost of paying for a service versus the free time you may not want to give up, or the time and energy of learning a capability you may never use again—or versus the risk of doing something wrong and looking unprofessional. These trade-offs will have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis (see first item!).
[About.com note: While Daneker's insights are drawn from her experiences with non-fiction clients, they apply to fiction writers as well. Many accomplished graduates of prestigious creative writing programs wouldn't think of sending their work out without hiring a copyeditor to clean up their manuscript, first.]
A shining manuscript does not a bestseller make. If you want to sell books, you have to market them. Start with a marketing plan that is well thought-out. Then, execute it with dedication – as if your book’s life depended on it (because it does). It’s not easy, but it can be formulaic if you work with experienced marketing professionals. Make sure that you have a good mix of social media, in person appearances, instruction, radio/blog talk/podcasts, and appreciation/recognition events for those that have helped you along the way.
Goodwill breeds goodwill.
Which is great advice for all authors—and all professionals.
Read more book publishing advice from Write Advisor's Bonnie Daneker—including her thoughts about what to do when the "Fifth Reality" about being an author——Change!——comes your way.
And read Bonnie Daneker's advice about writing a non-fiction book to market your business.
About Bonnie Daneker
Before becoming CEO of Write Advisors, Bonnie Daneker was President of BD Donaldson Publishing. She is the author of The Compassionate Caregiver Series®, CLIMB (with Sandy Hofmann), and Publishing as a Marketing Strategy. She is an expert contributor to Caring.com, guest blogger for writing sites, and regular presenter at BookLogix.
Read more about the realities of being a published author.