Writing and publishing a book is no small task. Perhaps that’s why, though studies show between 81 and 90 percent of Americans say they plan to write a book someday, few actually do it. Nevertheless, if you approach it in the right way, you can save yourself time, money, and much frustration.
1. Ask yourself some important questions.
Why do you want to write a book? Is it fame, fortune, to take your business to the next level, to tell a story only you can tell?
Your reasons for writing a book are very important. Knowing what they are, and being honest with yourself, could keep you from wasting much time and effort, and save you from disappointment.
For instance, if your reason for writing a book is to get on Oprah and be famous–what are your chances of that? (She receives hundreds, even thousands, of books a day.) Proceed with caution! If there is no other compelling reason for writing, will you be able to sustain the effort it will take?
On the other hand, if you want to establish your credibility and take your business or career to the next level, that’s a very good reason to write a book. Proceed with gusto!
Other questions to ask are who will read your book? How much support you have as you take time away from other activities to work on your book? How much do you actually like to write?
Being honest with yourself at the beginning stages can save you much time and frustration. Once you know the answers to some key questions, you will later be able to discern which of the many publishing paths are right for you.
2. Decide on your goal.
What exactly do you want/need to get out of this book?
This is akin to asking why you want to write a book, but it’s a bit more specific.
Do you need money? Recognition? A lead generator for your business? A credibility booster (e.g. if you’re a speaker and you want to command higher fees)?
Knowing exactly what you want to get out of your book will help you with other decisions you’ll need to make along the way.
3. Learn about your publishing options.
Book publishing is a complex matter these days.
In the “old days,” you needed to put together a book proposal (if it’s nonfiction) or synopsis (for fiction), try to find an agent or editor, submit your proposal, and wait. And wait. Sometimes for years.
That’s still pretty much the way “traditional” publishing works, with the caveat that now there are only around 6 big publishers, a few hundred medium publishers, and it’s almost impossible to get published by “the big 6” as a first-time author. You definitely need and agent, and it can be almost as hard to find a good agent as it is to find a publisher who will publish you.
However, nowadays technological changes make it possible for just about anybody to get published. The bad news is, there are lots of pitfalls out there–so-called “publishers” who will charge you the proverbial arm and leg and give you no help in distributing and promoting your book.
So, you need to …
4. Learn from a publishing expert.
Because of the potential pitfalls, and to shorten your time line in writing your book, it’s wise to seek the help of someone in the field who is knowledgeable about publishing.
There are many good books out there. However, make sure you check the dates. Since publishing has changed to much just in the past few years, a book that was published even two years ago has information that’s four or even five years old. Too old for this field.
You can also research on the Internet. Do a search for “book publishing coach,” for instance. Just make sure you check credentials, and look for clues that that person keeps up to date. A good sign is, does the person have a newsletter? You will want to sign up for the ones that interest you.
Getting a coach, or finding someone in the publishing field to advise you, will trim years of time, effort and frustration–not to mention money–off your learning curve.
The way to write and publish a book is the same way you eat an elephant–“one bite at a time.” If you take these four steps at your own pace, but steadily moving on, you will ensure your success. If you feel there’s a book inside you, wanting to get out, why delay any further?