Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why (and How to) Self-Publish--Helping Hands

When you take the plunge and self-publish your book, you're going to be doing a lot of things yourself (it's built right into the word). Editing, proofreading, design, marketing--a mistake that a lot of writers make when they begin to self-publish is trying to do everything alone. I'm not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars hiring professionals to do all of these things for you, but in the long run your book will be much more appealing to readers--and you'll be a lot happier with it--if you take the time to seek out experienced help.

An editor will help you by looking at your book as a whole and offering suggestions to make it better. A lot of writers choos to pinch pennies here by asking their mom, neighbor, pastor, babysitter, etc. to "take a look" at their manuscript, but that isn't helping your book get better. Most of the critiques coming from these people are gushing compliments or vague criticisms (either because they can't pinpoint what's bothering them about your book or they don't want to hurt your feelings). In the long run, it's much better for you and your book to get an experienced, professional editor. If you plan on hiring a pro, you can expect something in the neighborhood of $25-30 an hour, or $2-3 per page.* If you have a more personal relationship with your editor, you may be able to work out a discount rate or work on barter.

Where to find Editors:
  • Networking at writer's conferences or organizations
  • has a list of editorial services
  • P.O.D. publishers (i.e. lulu, iuniverse, authorhouse) often have preferred vendors
  • University English/Journalism departments

Spellcheck does not count as proofreading your manuscript. You need human eyes to catch all the grammar goofs that spellcheck misses, and the more eyes, the better. Many writers can get overconfident in their grammar and spelling skills. Hey, I was a state spelling bee finalist in the 8th grade, and I still have other people double check me for typos. I'll look up words I'm not sure about. No one is perfect all of the time. If you decide to hire a professional to proofread your work, expect to pay $1-2.50 per page.* Some editors will also proofread, but don't assume both services are standard.

Where to find Proofreaders:
  • Friends and family (the more eyes the better, but it's a good idea to ask people who can spell their way out of a paper bag)
  • Schoolteachers
  • The Editor resources

Technically, anyone with a computer and some software can create a book cover. Many authors will often skimp on this section by doing their book cover or interior design themselves or hiring the neighbor's kid who's kinda artistic and good with computers. Skimping here is one of the fastest ways to brand yourself an amateur and your book uninteresting. A good interior design makes your book easy to read and engaging. A good book cover design grabs attention, creates interest, and gives you (the author) credibility. A good designer will know or have access to barcode standards, ISBN placement requirements, and how to set up artwork for different printing methods. They also won't neglect the spine or the back of the cover, which are just as critical as the front. You can expect to pay anywhere from a couple of hundred to over a thousand dollars for a good interior and cover design, depending on the length of your book, but if you know the designer personally, you may be able to negotiate a discount or trade.

Where to find a Designer:
  • P.O.D services usually have templates available (but do you want your book to look just like everyone else's? Overused templates can be just as bad for your book as an amateur design.)
  • P.O.D. preferred vendors
  • Network with other authors
  • Graphic Design Agencies (from one-man studios to the big kahunas)
  • Graphic Design Students (caution! check out their portfolio and how long they've been in school. Generally, the closer they are to graduating, the more they've learned.)

Unlike working with the big corporations (or even the small, independent presses), when you self-publish, all your book's marketing falls on your shoulders. You'll be the one making phone calls, sending out press releases, and mailing off review copies. This is the reason why many self-published books hit their limit at 50 copies, and many authors have boxes of books gathering dust in the garage.

Information, Advice, and Suggestions for Marketing
  • Morris Rosenthal's blog (
  • Aaron Shepard's blog (
  • Networking with other authors at writing conferences and in writing organizations
  • Attending book festivals
  • Reading helpful books specifically about marketing self-published books

Krystal Russell is the author of Horace the Tortoise and Lucas and His Long Loopy Laces coming soon from tall tails publishing house.

*Rates from Start Your Own Self-Publishing Business by Entrepreneur Press and Jennifer Dorsey.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Benefits of Self-Publishing

If you are tired of getting rejection letters from publishers, dealing with financial stressors and are ready to give up on your book, please don’t. I went through this same ordeal too and found another choice.

By self-publishing your book, you’ll experience many joys such as:

- Sharing your work with others;
- Communicating directly with readers;
- Making changes whenever applicable;
- Paying to print only necessary books;
- Conducting your own public relations efforts; and best of all
- Controlling the marketing process.

In fact, I’ve talked to many professional consultants and speakers who make thousands of dollars more selling their own works that dealing with a publisher. Why?

They have complete control over how book packages are created and sold. Plus, they can create their own personal lists of customers to contact about future products, send newsletters, obtain feedback, and more. Plus, they can make changes at the last minute and cater their works to a specific audience, partner, sponsor, or affiliate as needed.

With this in mind, don’t get discouraged the next time you get a publisher’s rejection letter. Instead, think about all of the possibilities of being a self-published author!

For help with self-publishing, feel free to write to me directly and check out our new newsletter at

Other Self-Publishing Resources:

Article Source:

Friday, October 17, 2008

How to write a non-fiction book in 60 days: WCDR talk

Talk Presumption
You want to write or are writing a non-fiction book – perhaps one that you will self-publish; you can edit and proofread your book or will hire someone to do so.

Who is Writing Non-Fiction Books?
With the growth in Print on Demand (POD), public speakers, seminar leaders, consultants, technical trainers, financial planners, real estate agents, lawyers, nutritionists and fitness experts, people who have lived interesting, and not so interesting, lives, are all writing non-fiction.

Super Powers Not Required
- Writing a book can feel intimidating and overwhelming when you are facing the blank page: Where do you start? Where do you go next? How do you structure it? What do you put in; what do you leave out?
- Non-fiction book writing does not have to be intimidating; anyone who can write can write a solid first draft of a non-fiction book – in 60 days.
- I have written 11 books and short reports — each in less than 60 working days. It can be done. It is being done. You can do it – as long as you follow the process.
- Working days: If you devote about 4 hours a day to writing your book, you can write it in 60 days. If you devote about 4 hours one day a week, it will take you 60 weeks, but still 60 working days.

What Does it Take to Write a Book?
- It takes an idea. If you do not have an idea, it will be difficult to write your book.
- It takes purpose. Your purpose should be clearly defined so you can focus your writing and achieve what you set out to do.
- It takes knowledge of your reader. Determine what your readers know, and what they need to know.
- It takes organization. Organize your thoughts before you start to write.
- It takes time. It should take no more than about four hours per day over 60 days to focus your book idea, outline your book and write a solid first draft.

Day One
Scan books thematically related to the book you want to write: how to, autobiography, health and nutrition, business development… Look at how they are structured in terms of chapters and topics. Where they start, how they progress, where they end… what they cover. Spend some time on this over the first 30 days. Also, jot down a working title that encapsulates the subject you are writing about.

Days 2 – Pre-writing Exercise I
- Two pre-writing exercises detailed in the book — Freefall and Undirected Freefall — were described. Participants engaged in a a Directed Freefall exercise.
- You can probably write about 200 to 250 words in 10 minutes using Freefall. There are about 25,000 to 50,000 words in a non-fiction book. Do the math:
- 25,000 words / 200 words per 10 minutes = 125 10-minute chunks or 21 hours.
+ It takes less than a day to write a 25,000-word book.
+ It takes less than two days to write a 50,000-word book.

Days 3 – Pre-writing Exercise II
Participants were given a brainstorming writing exercise known as Clustering to help them get organized. Clustering (also known as brainstorming, mind mapping and word association) helps you put down on paper everything you know about and associate with a topic and sparks themes and ideas related to your topic that you might not have otherwise thought up.

Day 4 to 6 – Understand The Writing Process
The writing process you use to create your book includes five steps:
- Preparation: Establish your purpose. Assess your audience. Determine the extent of the detail required to achieve your purpose.
- Research: Determine if the research will be internal, external or a combination of both.
- Organization: Select an appropriate method of development so your writing unfolds in a logical manner. Prepare an outline.
- Writing: Write from your outline, expanding your points into sentences and paragraphs.
- Revision: Revise to ensure your document is clear, concise, focused and supports your purpose. Check your spelling and grammar. Have someone edit and proofread your work.

Day 7 & 8 - Research & Get Organized I
- Extensive external research is not part of the 60-day book writing process. If you are an expert in your field, most of the research you have to do is internal.
- Select an appropriate method of development so your writing unfolds in a logical manner. Logic depends on your subject, your purpose and your reader — what the reader already knows and what the reader needs to know, and the order in which the reader needs to know it to achieve the desired purpose of the book.
- Jot down 15 to 20 points that answer the following: Where do you start and why? Where do you go next? And then…? And then…? And then…? And then…?
- Order the points to facilitate learning. In other words, arrange the topic points and any related sub-points in the order in which you think you should present them.

Day 9: Get Organized II
- Get 20 or more sheets of 8½ by 11 paper or flip-chart paper.
- Pick a key word or phrase that represents the subject or topic of your book.
- Cluster it. Extensively.
- You may want to Cluster several different words and phrases that represent your topic; don’t be concerned about overlap in your clustering.

Day 10: Get Organized III
- Based on your Clustering, create a Table of Contents or major topics (big picture) outline of your book; organize the Table of Contents base on the appropriate method of development or logical flow you have selected.

Days 11 to 31: Producing Outlines
- Based on your Clustering, create chapter by chapter linear outlines of your book:

Chapter 1: Major topic of chapter
1. Major point 1
a. Sub-point 1
i. Secondary point A
ii. Secondary point B
And so on until you have a detailed outline. For instance, if you were writing a chapter on “the benefits of outlining”, your outline might look like this:

Benefits of Outlining
1. Provides logical structure
a. Gives you a detailed road map
2. Ensures all major and minor points are covered
a. Produces greater clarity and focus
b. Helps you detect errors in logic
3. Removes stress of trying to hold on to all you know while writing
a. Allows you to write quickly in manageable chunks
b. Ensures you do not lose your train of thought when you take breaks
4. Facilitates the approval process, if one is required

Days 31 to 60: Write
- Write from outline point to outline point, chapter by chapter, until you complete you book; if you devote 2 to 4 hours a day to writing, you will write a chapter a day.
- Do not edit your book until you have completed it. But if you absolutely have to edit, do not edit a chapter until you have completed it. Then move on and write the next chapter.

Once You’ve Written the Book…
- Once you have a final manuscript in hand, you can look for an agent or publisher or you can self-publish your book using Print on Demand. But ensure you edit it and proofread it first, or hire some one to do so.
Note: There is a chapter on print on demand in How To Write A Non-Fiction Book in 60 Days. You can also read more about POD in my blog. For POD topics go to: www./

Paul Lima is a freelance writer and writing trainer. He is also the author of:
How To Write A Non-Fiction Book in 60 Days and other books on the business of freelance writing and business writing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Tricky Art of Self-Publishing

By Foster J. Dickson

It is commonly said that self-publishing is an option for writers whose works are not up to the caliber of the work published by commercial publishing houses. That rumor is perpetuated by the well-spring of writers who self-publish second-rate novels and little collections of semi-poetical ditties for their own friends and families. However, it is far from the whole truth. Self-publishing is a tricky game and, for some writers, a worthwhile venture to undertake.

There are some inherent difficulties with self-publishing that should be noted up front and most of them have to do with the book business as a whole. The issues with the process require an author’s time and money, and without them the process will more than likely be a failure. The first difficulty is that nearly all of the major retailers refuse to carry self-published titles, which is their own safeguard against being flooded with titles to manage and distribute to stores and online customers, not an effront to the self-published. The second is that reviewers will typically not review self-published books and major media will usually not print reviews of self-published books. The third difficulty is that all of the workload of publicity, shipping, invoicing, accounting, and promotions are all on the author, where commercial publishers have multiple employees each undertaking one of these tasks and thus doing them more effectively. The final difficulty is simply having the money to pay for the print run, which is a lesson to be learned about the printing business.

There is one major reason that major retailers will not carry self-published titles. Booksellers have the right to return unsold books to the vendor or publisher. A private individual who is not savvy in the ways of the book business will be a hassle for the accounts payable, accounts receivable and shipping departments of large companies because every company is different and a professional relationship is necessary to effectively communicate and sell the book, as well as handling returns. For instance, most people are not aware that book wholesalers are entitled to a 55% discount off the retail cover price, which is in most cases non-negotiable. It is hard enough for the big boys to deal with all of the publishers in the U.S. and Canada, so they opt to not deal with private individuals because these relationships would necessitate whole departments of extra employees for relatively minimal profits Self-published books are generally publicized by writers who are moonlighting as their own publicity agent (with little or no experience and minimal success) and who do not have a core audience outside of their own hometown. Beyond that, a private individual will not be reachable during the day for questions or problems, making most of these processes impossible. It is unfortunate but the big booksellers and wholesalers know these authors need them more than they need self-published authors, so they choose not to do business with them. There are ways around this, however; you can start your own “publishing company” and make your book the lead title, but this also requires money and time.

For these same reasons, book reviews will seldom or never appear for self-published books. There are whole departments in book publishing houses with people who send complimentary copies of books to reviewers, some of whom might receive 20 or more books a day with requests for reviews or for blurbs which are the quotes about the book’s content that are available on the back cover. The reviewers and major media receive so many unsolicited books from publishing houses seeking reviews and blurbs that they also opt to not deal with private individuals as a rule.

Once you realize it will be nearly impossible to have a worldwide bestseller with a self-published book you can begin to understand the roles to be played if you are to be successful. The author must become his or her own publicity agent and shipping clerk, not to mention accountant; items like sales tax have to be tallied and paid. These roles, especially publicity, are hard work because the self-published writer must stick to smaller retailers and shops, choosing more non-conventional methods of publicizing, because of the limitations of not being able to work with the big booksellers. In this role, the author must be multi-tasking all the time and willing to work extra hard, treating the publication as the beginning of the road, not the end. This is not to mention author signings, which are the best way to publicize a book. An author’s real work begins after the book comes back from the printer. This is true even for commercially published authors.

The final major obstacle to overcome is paying for the print run of the books. The best idea is to expect to spend between $10,000 and $20,000 on printing the books, in order to keep per-unit cost down. Large printing presses can produce as many as a few hundred unusable books before producing usable books, because of things like color-matching and other design aspects. Thus, a print run of less than a thousand books can cost a printer more than the job is worth if they don’t charge large amounts of money for the job, in order to re-coup their losses. Having thousands of dollars to pay for a print run can be a strain on nearly anyone.

Unlike many people, I always want the bad news first. That was all of the bad news coming first. There is a lot of good news, too. If self-publishing was impossible no one would ever do it. If it was not worth the effort then only a few people would do it and almost no one would do it more than once. The truth is that many people are self-publishing many books every year and succeeding has a lot to do with understanding what is trying to be done and how. Some of the most famous writers self-published first, including D.H. Lawrence, Anais Nin, James Joyce, and more recently James Redfield, with his Celestine Prophecy. Self-publication is an unorthodox method and one that must be undertaken completely differently from conventional publishing and bookselling.

The key to any game is understanding the rules and playing within them in order to win. Just as a 5″5′ basketball player will not try to drive in and slam-dunk the ball, a self-published author should not try to play the big boys’ ball game at all. If the major retailers will not carry a book, then the other option is finding someone who will. If newspapers will not review a book, then publicizing by other means becomes necessary. The self-publishing author merely has to be creative and hard working to do well, and doing well is relative.

Reasonable goals become necessary in self-publishing. I heard through the grapevine recently that the book that won the American Poetry Prize last year has sold about 4,000 copies so far, so if a person self-publishes a poetry book, then a print run of 1,000 is probably far too ambitious. Likewise, just as getting per-unit cost down is advisable, it is not a good idea to have too many printed and get stuck holding the bag. The best advice is to begin planning before the printing begins and get an idea of how many might be sold and buy that many plus a few extras. Being too ambitious on the first go-round is not wise, because a first-time author, unable to use major retailers, and being a one-man show, it is probably best to have a 1,000 books maximum printed, even if there seems to be interest. You may also want to think about taking advanced orders.

Self-publishing can also be an avenue to getting commercially published, as it was for James Redfield. Sending a well-designed book to a publisher’s acquisitions editor rather than a box full of loose sheets may show that the author has enough faith in their own work to put their money where their mouth is. Publishers know what printers cost and seeing a bound books says that the author spent a few thousand dollars getting his or her work in tip-top shape, so it may well be worth taking a look at it. Another way that this may be an avenue into commercial publication is that if the author has a print run of 1,000 books and sells them all, reserving a few copies for himself, then submits it to a publisher stating that the print run of 1,000 is already sold out; it may peak their interest, seeing sales possibilities put right in front of them. Basically, if the author could sell 1,000 with his or her limited resources then the publisher might see it as an opportunity to sell 10,000 or more. The key in this strategy is hard work and a lot of patience.

Publishing is a strange business. It is the only business that I know which has an open return policy, where any quantity of books can be returned by the bookseller to the vendor to ask for and get a full refund. It is a business where wholesalers get a 55% discount and retailers get a 40% discount (these are typical but not an end-all-be-all rule), rather than the standard business practice of mark-up. It is also a business where it is not necessarily better to have more product to sell, but just the good quality. It is a business of reputation.

The things, beside these basic business elements of publishing, that many people do not understand are the details. Publishers set up a niche for themselves and so there is no need to submit a book about World War II to a publisher of travel books, even if they are the only publisher in your area or the friend of a cousin’s uncle’s brother’s friend. The publisher that I work for publishes regional (Southern) fiction, African-American and Civil Rights books. We get, however, submission of all genres, which we reject or divert to another “imprint,” which has a broader range of topics. Some people see this as being put on the second-rate list, but it is not. A publisher must uphold its niche or lose its credibility within the business and that is sad but true. For a self-publishing author, this is an integral fact to know before submitting work or trying to find a publisher. It is best not to waste time — no matter how good the book is — submitting it to a publisher who will not publish it because of its subject.

This brings me to the explosion of self-publishing imprints in the United States and Canada these days, brought on the by the advent of the Internet. There are a lot of honest ones, a lot of scams, a lot of honest ones that look like scams, and vice versa. This was all made possible by a revolution in publishing called print-on-demand, which allows the books to be stored in a digital file (like an e-book) and when 3 are ordered, 3 are printed, unlike printing 1,000 and waiting for orders. Many self-publishers will ask an author to pay for 1,000 books then do print-on-demand which, though not illegal, is unethical. The best thing to do with these is a lot of homework, reading fine print and not signing anything until it is sure that what seems real is actually real. There are of course many companies to be found online, like Lightning Source, which is a subsidiary of Ingram Book Company, the largest book wholesaler in the U.S., iPublish, which is a subsidiary of Time-Warner, and Xlibris, a subsidiary of Random House.

I tell people often — and I believe it — that writing is about art and publication is about money. That is another fact that is sad but true. Publishers care about sales and that is the reason for the difficulty of getting published. Commercial publishers invest huge amounts of money in forthcoming books every year and some flop, so they have to be extremely careful about what they choose and this is what gave rise to self-publishing. The publishers can be wrong, though, and Celestine Prophecy, which I heard was rejected by 27 publishers, is a good example. The problem is that most authors are not savvy business-people and do not want to be, but self-publication necessitates it. It is a choice to be made.

The best illustrations of this may be some stories. The first that comes to mind is the young man who came into my office one day with a steno pad of hand-written poetry wanting it to be published, requesting a very naive way. I talked to him for a while encouraging him to first go type his work and proofread it, then re-submit it, considering self-publication. He did not understand what I meant by self-publication. I asked simply, “Do you want to pay for this book to be produced or are you expecting us to pay for it?” He looked at me as though I was absolutely bonkers and replied, “I want Y’ALL to pay for it!” He could not understand that, just because he liked his own poetry, other people might not buy it. His approach was very naive and irrational and yet he was precisely the type of person who should have considered self-publishing.

Regarding the many online self-publishing companies, beware. It would not be fair to warn against using them at all, but beware of doing business with anyone that does not offer face-to-face interaction and requires large sums of money. I was privy to a conversation about someone we knew who was going to self-publish her full-length novel. One of the large online companies gave her a quote of 13,000 dollars to get editorial services, layout and design, 75 author copies and additional copies at 50% off within the print run of 1,000 books. If she bought all 1,000 books on a full length novel - if the list price was 25 dollars, for example - she would spend roughly 23,000 dollars obtaining them. That would mean that she might make a profit of 2,000 dollars if she sold every book at full price, which would be almost impossible to do, considering giving retailers’ discounts. Read the fine print and understand fully what is being purchased and what rights are being given. For instance, check into whether or not a proof copy is given to review between editing and printing, because if not they will have the right to re-write your book and it will be too late before the author sees the changes. If thousands of dollars are being spent on self-publication, the author should have more rights concerning his or her own work than the company being paid.

Perhaps, I should lay out a few more facts to close things out. Because self-publishing is an unorthodox venture many of the companies’ methods are rather unorthodox. For instance, iPublish requires a submitting author to review three other authors’ work before being allowed to submit any of their own and all submission are subject to the same process. To avoid being sorry later, it is best to obtain price quotes from as many self-publishing companies and printers as possible before settling on one and take plenty of time, even consulting a lawyer with the contract, because spending an additional few hundred on top of a few thousand may save a lot of money and heartbreak in the long run. In many cases it can be better, also, to pay a freelance editor to work on a manuscript before submitting it to be published, because the rates for editorial services in some companies can be very high priced but not very personal, where a freelance editor can work one-to-one.

If self-publishing is an option, be careful and be wise. There are many loopholes, pitfalls and facets of the business that may require creative thinking and extra hard work. However, if the money is available then the venture may be worthwhile. Just like the publishers have no way of being certain of what will be the next blockbuster, neither do the authors. The book manuscript that is collecting dust on the shelf under a pile of rejection letters may be the one that sets a new standard, the way the works of James Joyce or even D.H. Lawrence did.

Foster J. Dickson is the Production Manager for NewSouth Books in Montgomery, AL, primarily working with self-publishing authors, where he is an editor and printer. He has had freelance articles, book reviews, poetry and literary criticism published and is the founding member of a writers’ group in Montgomery.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why You Don't Write Your Book

by: Suzanne Falter-Barns

In the ten years that I've taught people how to get on with their books and creative projects, I've noticed a phenomenon that I'll call "Author's Block." Would-be writers can, indeed, sit down and work when pressed to it. The problem is that they're not so sure they want the pressure of being an author. But they do want it. But they don't. And so on.

Ah, the agony of getting on with your book.

Well, I'm here to diffuse that situation with a list of the key reasons we have trouble sticking to our writing or other creative projects. Perhaps this will help the next time you find yourself polishing doorknobs instead of sitting down to work.

Check all that apply to you:

You Lie To Yourself About Why You Can't Write The Book

You think your stalling is about lack of time, or too much pressure at work, or not enough solitude in the evening. But guess what? Chances are a deeper, darker reason may be at play, like 'I'm not supposed to be bigger than Mom' or 'What if this thing really takes off?'

You Fear The Impact Your Book Could Have

Sometimes when I coach writers in my Self-Help Author's Crash Course I'll ask them what's impeding their progress. And after some probing, it will come out that they're afraid of the big exposure a book can have if it takes off. I'm here to assure you that should that happen, (and chances are your book will not unleash wild mobs of millions) you will be able to handle it. How do I know? On that deep level where psyche meets karma, you won't create a single reader more than you're ready to receive.

You Think Your Book Doesn't Matter, So Why Bother?

One writer I know put this succinctly: "I've tried getting up at 5AM to write, or staying up late, or even leaving my home, but none of it works. I have this tired feeling that none of my effort is going to amount to a hill of beans." In fact, writing and publication can be an entirely self-determined activity these days. If the publishing pundits don't go for your book, there's always the option of self-publishing paperback editions or e-books and selling them on online booksellers or your website. In other words, your book DOES matter, and you really have no excuse. (Acid test: if the book keeps on patiently urging you to sit down and write it for months and even years, chances are you'd better do it.)

You Think You Don't Know How To Write A Book

Guess what? Neither does any other first time writer. And that may be a wonderful thing. As a beginner, you don't approach your book project with a carload of professional expectations and demands from your process. You can just be open, like… well, a nice blank book. All you really need is your intuition to guide you, and the will to write your book as honestly as you can.

You Have No Support

You need someone in your corner, cheering you on, to get through the long and somewhat tiring process of birthing a book. Because writers need a way to show up and be accountable for their progress. They need someone to keep saying, 'Yes, you really can do this," or even "How's it going?" Minds can be tricky and difficult when fully challenged by something like a book. And steady external support is the best way around that.

You're Afraid You'll Run Out Of Material

There isn't a writer out there who hasn't had this fear. And I'm here to say that if you just stay loose and open, and willing to receive the ideas, they will show up. All you have to do is commit - really sit down, and begin to bring that book into being - and the work will magically appear. Sometimes it won't flow that easily, and sometimes it will scare you with its speed and power. But it will, indeed, show up.

You Think 'Who Am I to Write a Book?'

And yet, you are the perfect person to write your book, because you're the one chosen to receive this material. (You don't have to be spiritually inclined to believe this.) I personally believe that books are given to us when we're ready to receive them… and when we do, our lives are changed by that process.

You Fear Uncomfortable Moments

Ah, but that's the most exciting thing about writing your book. You will be given challenges and lessons that just seem untenable along the way. And if you're committed enough, you'll rise above them and so become stronger in the process. This is especially true for self-help books: we naturally write what we need to learn.

Got a few categories checked off from the list above? Good! Awareness is the first step to diffusing your fears. Meanwhile, PLEASE do get on with your book … despite your misgivings. Not only do you deserve this work - so do we.

About The Author

Suzanne Falter-Barns co-leads The Writer's Spa, a week-long, nurturing retreat for anyone with a book on their mind. Taos, NM, August, 2005. Learn more at

© 2005 Suzanne Falter-Barns LLC.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Big Wide World: Getting your book out there

by Leda Sammarco

Unless you are writing a private diary, you ultimately want your writing to go out into the world to educate, entertain or enlighten. This is an exciting time to be writing books as there are many different ways to reach your target audience. It could take the form of an ebook on your website; you may want to try for a book deal with a publishing house or you may consider some of the self-publishing options now available. The choice is yours!

Whichever option you choose, one of the most important things is having a publishing platform. This is the sum total of your media coverage, any speaking opportunities, your own database of clients, any strategic alliances you may have formed and your website and blogging activity.

You will need a platform to convince a publisher to consider your book in the first place. A US publisher I spoke to recently, said “platform, platform, platform”, otherwise “the book dies on the shelf”.

If you are offered a book deal, you will still be expected to be proactive in terms of doing media interviews, speaking at events and marketing your book to your own clients.

If you decide to self-publish your book, then the more proactive you are, the more successful it will be. Plus retailers are more likely to order your book if you have a profile of some kind.

The self-publishing versus publishing deal debate is really about how much control you want over the process and the kind of experience you would like to have.

You may want a publishing deal for the gravitas and prestige that it confers, plus the fact that the company will have a sales team to get your book into retailers as well as media contacts and a marketing budget to promote it. However, some of the above is contingent on the commercial potential of your book and the overall experience will vary depending on the publishing company.

If you want to go this route, you’ll need to research the publishers and their lists to see where your book would fit and think about whether you want to target small independents or large conglomerate (many of whom only accept submissions through agents). You’ll need to submit a publishing proposal and sample chapters to persuade them to take it.

Self-publishing, on the other hand, puts you in the driving seat. It has come into its own and no longer suffers from the label of vanity publishing. There are various companies that offer self-publishing packages and you are likely to make more money this way, have total control over the process and own all the rights to your book.

However, you will be paying for the production and printing costs and you will have to publicise, market and sell the book into retailers. It is also essential that your book looks as good as anything you would see in Waterstone’s or Borders.

Sometimes self-publishing can even lead to a subsequent publishing deal such as with Masaru Emoto’s book ‘The Hidden Messages in Water’.

The other self-publishing option is an ebook that you can make available directly from your website. This may be one way to test the water with an idea that you have, as you can modify it according to the feedback you get. You will also need to think carefully about your website strategy and affiliate marketing.

Once your book is out in the world, it is out of your hands. This is perhaps the scariest and most exciting part. Like anything in life, you may receive mixed reactions to it. Provided you have written it from a place of authenticity and integrity though, you will find your right audience.


Writers and Artists Yearbook 2009 (A & C Black)
Writer’s Market UK 2009 (David & Charles)
Self-Publishing for Dummies by Jason R. Rich (John Wiley & Sons)