By Walter M. Perkins
Writing a book, once the impossible dream for many, is now a reality for many more due to technology and the many available how-to books on getting it done.
In a user-friendly format he takes you through the entire writing and publishing process, starting with idea-creation. Where do you find interesting subjects? How are ideas explored, massaged and finally turned into a book that someone will want to read?
“Everybody has a story,” Perkins writes. “We all have a book within. It just needs to be written and marketed the right way. The worst waste of your time is writing a book that know one knows exists.”
Why write for publication? Some do it for ego gratification. Others do it for the mistaken notion that they are going to become rich and famous.
Wrong. The reality is that 90 percent of books published are written by 10 percent of authors. The other 10 percent published in any given year, are written by 90 percent of the rest.
Not only are you unlikely to get rich, you are going to spend money to get published. How much depends on your knowledge of the business of publishing in today’s market.
Remember, publishing is a business above all else. And, just like any other business, you are going to have to spend to get something back.
You will spend both time and money.
Cash aside, be prepared to spend a lot of time alone.
With that said, why should you write a book?
Write your book because you have something unique to say.
Write your book because you have knowledge that can help someone.
Write your book to entertain and inform your audience.
Finally, write your book because it hasn’t been written, and it’s a book that can’t be written by anyone but you.
Like the devil, the challenges not to write will don many different disguises.
1. I don’t have time. Wrong, you may not have the desire. You may not have the guts. You may not have the sticktoitiveness. Is that a word? It doesn’t matter; if you don’t have it you won’t be successful.
Read the biographies of some of the world’s greatest writers. You will find that they found time to write, regardless of their personal circumstances. Some managed to write while laboring under the most challenging circumstances…poverty, imprisonment and various disabilities.
The person who really wants to write will find the time. Mentally walk through your typical 24-hour day. Note how much time you waste. Note the various ways that you waste time. Add it up. How much time, an hour, two hours, or more?
2. I don’t know what to write about. Everyone is an expert at something. Figure out your special talent. Expand your knowledge and start writing.
3. I have never written for publication. At one time Stephen King, Richard Wright, James Patterson, Toni Morrison, William Shakespeare, Walter Mosley, Terry McMillan and E. Lynn Harris could all hang their hats on this lame excuse.
How do you like them now?
4. I have never taken writing classes. Marc McCutcheon wrote a top-selling book titled, Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? detailing how people off the street who had never taken a journalism or fiction writing class, or even gone to college, are making $100,000 or more turning their ideas into best-selling books.
If they can, you can, too.
5. Who would be interested in what I write? Nobody, if you don’t change your attitude. Let’s be real. You’ve got to have a certain level of ego to write a book.
While previous publishing experience is not necessary, you do need:
• A good idea
• Descriptive chapter outlines
• Developed writing skills
• Knowledge of your audience(s)
• Knowledge of your competition
• Understanding of and ability to execute a marketing plan
How do you come up with a good idea? Easy, they are everywhere. Take a personal inventory.
• What are you good at?
• What do you like to do…hobbies, specialized interests?
• What professional skills do you have?
• What kinds of advice do you give to others?
• What do others think you are good at doing?
• What can’t you do that you would like to do?
• What don’t you know that you would like to know?
While writing your book is a solitary exercise, publishing your book requires professional help. At a minimum you will need a:
• Accountant/Business Manager
All of these services will, of course, cost money. How much might depend on your negotiating skills, and how much you have learned about the publishing business and where you can cut costs.
For example, Publish-On-Demand (POD), is a viable cost-cutting printing method. This allows you to publish books as they are ordered. No longer do you have to order 500, 1,000 books or more, only to have them gather dust in a corner in your house.
While you might be tempted to avoid the cost of a publicist, think again. Marketing the book is just as important as writing the book. Don’t wait until it’s written to think about developing and implementing a marketing plan. Once chapter outlines and descriptions are developed, draft a marketing plan identifying who will buy your book
If you’re planning on selling your book to friends and relatives, don’t count on it. In fact, when you list your potential audiences, friends and relatives should be last on the list.
Why? Many of them will be looking for a free, autographed copy just because they are your friend or relative. Some will become angry and ornery if you refuse. Don’t expect them to understand that publishing is a business. After all, their only interest in your book is getting one free from you.
Write Right – Right Now The Book, coming this spring from Amazon.com and other outlets. Sign up at writerightthebook.com for free access to the 2013 Write Right The Calendar, daily writing tips sent to you on a monthly basis. You will also receive the latest information about the book launch.
About The Author
Walter M. Perkins has been published in N’DIGO, Nation’s Business, Dollars And Sense Magazine, The Chicago Reporter, The Quill, Harvard Business Review, Vital Speeches of the Day, Graduating Engineer, The National Black MBA Magazine,” and others.
His first book, Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Inc., Black and White Works, The First 50 Years – 1962-2012, was published in 2011. It documents the 50-year history of the organization founded at Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1962.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.