Getting Published (part two)

Here are six more truths about becoming a published author (in addition to the six from last week.)

7. Writing is a career. Book publishers are not looking for “one-shot wonders.” They want authors who are serious about their craft and can prove they have the potential to write several successful books. They cannot afford to put their time and marketing efforts into someone who just writes one book and then quits. First-time book authors can gain credibility with a publisher by showing a long list of shorter pieces they have written, rewritten, marketed to publishers, had accepted, etc. If you plan to write a nonfiction book, writing articles about that topic will increase your marketability as a book author in a publisher’s eyes. It can also prove the marketability of your topic.

8. Writing is powerful. When someone reads a book, his or her mind is often changed, if only by being expanded. A reader’s outlook, attitude, and perspective is affected by what he or she reads. A successful book can reach thousands of people. A magazine article, however, is read by millions of people. So if an aspiring writer desires to have the greatest impact with a particular message, he or she can do so far more efficiently with an article than with a book.

9. Writing is long-lasting. Although millions of people will read a magazine article, few of them will keep the article for any length of time. A book, however, stays in print virtually forever. Few people will actually throw a book in the trash. Most will either put it on a shelf or give it away. Therefore, an aspiring writer would be well advised to learn the craft on smaller pieces that will be thrown away by everyone except the writer and his or her immediate family. Your writing will improve over time, if you put in the effort, and you will likely be embarrassed by your earlier attempts.

10. Writing is not for everyone. Yes, it is a skill that can be learned, but it is also a talent to be nurtured. Each individual has his or her own unique talents. Not everyone has an innate talent for writing. If you don’t, the best way to find that out is by trying your hand at something small. If you discover that quickly you can more easily move on to something you have more of a talent for.

11. Writing is hard work. Most people think writing for publication is easy … until they try doing it. Writing, especially books (and even more especially novels) takes a lot of time. The process is slow and the results often frustrating. The rewards are few and far between (and financially miniscule), especially considering the number of hours required to do it well. A very tiny percentage of writers can actually make a decent living at it, and that only happens after years of unrewarded toil. The only people who make it in this business are those who love it so much they cannot imagine doing anything else.

12. Writing professionally involves more than just writing. Many people think that authors just sit at home in front of their computers all day and create manuscripts. But book publishers today expect authors to do as much marketing as they do—usually more. Many publishers will not accept a manuscript, even if they think it’s good, if they don’t believe the author has specific ways that he/she can sell multiple copies of the book. This may entail a “platform,” a topic the author is uniquely qualified to talk about at speaking engagements, book signings, media interviews, etc. They expect the author to have a website and to send out promotional materials to potential buyers. If you’re not comfortable with public speaking, becoming a published book author may not be right for you.