Reflections on getting a book published–Part 1
April 16, 2016
This week my very first book (written under my name) was released! And in my more than 20-something years of publishing, I’ve learned just as much this week (or leading up to it) that I learned in journalism school and working in the industry combined (well, that’s a little of a stretch, but the essence of the point is definitely true. I know a lot of people have a book inside of them and want to know how to get it out. I hope my reflections will get you started—or help you keep going—or make you rethink things (lol).
- Publishing is about marketing—As an editor, it was easy for me to say: good writing is what it takes to make a book work. But, since I worked in publishing and didn’t live under a rock, I know that’s just not true. I’m sorry all of you great literary lovers and wordsmiths—yes, great writing is nice, but we’ve all read some bestsellers that were not great writing. What really sells a book (or anything for that matter) is marketing. So, if you have an idea inside of you, I encourage you to also think about how you would market that idea—even before you publish the book. People need to know you’re writing and they need to be interested in what you’re writing. If you’re writing for other reasons (therapeutic, a lifetime goal, to archive family memories), then know that…and make that your goal, not selling books.
- Marketing takes a lot of time—and even a different type of energy. If you’re going to market your book, you’ve got to be on. That means you’ve got to invest the time in—when you want to and when you don’t want to. I know you’d just rather write; but if you’re writing for people to read, they will need to know about your work. Be ready to invest that time in writing about the book, interviews, promoting…yada yada yada. Just checking my Facebook account this week took up more time than editing—or writing the next book in the Successful Bible Series (due soon!). One day, I dream of having a team do my marketing—but as a new writer building a platform, I have to do it. I was at the gym last week, slowly building up nerve to hand out flyers to tell people about my book, and I thought: I bet Beth Moore [best-selling Christian writer] doesn’t have to hand out flyers at the gym. I’m sure she doesn’t…but she’s a best-selling author and who knows what she did to get there! (a lot of hard work and a lot of her time was put into it, I’m sure…and still is.) And, quite frankly, my journey is not her journey or your journey. And “best-selling” can have lots of connotations, if that is your goal…but it all means “hard work.”
- 3. I really like to write, but when and how and where? Writing is fun. I’ve loved writing since I was little girl. I wrote letters to my mom expressing my feelings because—believe it or not—I’ve always felt like I was better at writing than talking. I like to talk (don’t get me wrong), but I can edit my writing and work with it to get exactly what I want to say out. I won essay writing contests in junior high and high school. And my college professor pulled me aside my sophomore year and encouraged me to get an internship at a newspaper because she thought my writing was good (thanks Ms. Frazier-Page). It’s always kind of been in me. However, who has time to write—unless you’re paid to do it? And even though I was paid a modest advance (thank you, Lord!) to write my book series, it was not enough not to do other work. I’m still building a publishing consulting and editing business (and that takes lots of time). The contracts with my publishers—and even a few individuals—is what pays the bills. So, I’ve got to do those things and find time to write. I also have an active–very active– 6-year-old who needs me every time I sit at my computer! I thought I was quitting my full time job to be more accessible to her while in school and build a business (why, did I think that meant more time?). We didn’t downshift our lifestyle and I didn’t become a stay at home mom, which still takes getting used to as I see dishes in the sink and think I should have more time to care for the home (not!)
So my best writing is done early in the morning (well before the family wakes up) and in the coffee shop while waiting on Kayla (my 6 year old) to get her hair braided and in the receptionist area while she takes dance and in a hotel room during a weekend getaway with Derrick (while he watches TV), at the library while Kayla plays with the blocks, and sometimes, just sometimes, in the afternoon when my head is clear and I can sit down and write. The lesson: find your best time and place to write and schedule it in. You’ll keep that appointment sometimes. Other times, carry your laptop or tablet or phone or pen and paper around with you and write it down when you can. It’s the life of a writer…you never know when creativity and time will meet up so you want to be ready.
Successful Moms of the Bible is available right now (in bookstores and online). Successful Women of the Bible will be out in August and Successful Leaders of the Bible will be out in early 2017. I’m writing and I’m thankful!