Monday, November 11, 2013

So You Want to Write a Book

Is your goal as a writer to write a book and get it published? Do you think that doing so will instantly propel you to success? Does writing a book say “Look at me. I’m a writer?” If you answered yes to all three questions, then you better consider doing something else besides writing.

Writing isn’t a game. It isn’t a way to gain popularity. What is it is a form of communication. If you can write well, you can communicate well. And communicating well is the secret to success as an author—a person who writes books.

Writing wannabees see those celebrity writers who make the news or the New York Times Bestseller List and want to be just like them. They dream of writing a hit best seller and having instant success. That happens very rarely and when it does it’s a combination of lots of luck and perhaps a good book.

For all the good books published each year, there are over 10 times as many bad ones. Just because a book gets published doesn’t mean that it’s going to be bought, and more importantly, read.

And to get readers to read your book, you need to have a solid marketable idea. Just having something to say isn’t enough. You have to make sure there are people out there that want to read what you write. So before you do anything else, you have to do some market research to find out if there are other books on the shelves like the one you plan to write. If there are, how many are there? If not, why aren’t there any? If the market is already flooded with similar books, the chances of your book even getting published are slim. If there’s no interest in your subject, that may also ring the death knell to your book idea.

But getting a good marketable idea is only the beginning. Do you have the advanced writing skills to write a book? Also, do you have the organizational skills to put one together. If you plan one of those “write-a-book-in-a-month” marathons, you’ll be sadly disappointed. Sure you can write it and publish is as an ebook, but will it be good enough to bring in more than a few dollars?

Writing a book is a major project. Perhaps that’s why so many writers start one and never finish it. It takes a chunk out of your life. It’s all consuming. You’ll be thinking about when you’re bathing, when you’re driving, when you’re sleeping. It will overwhelm you at times.

Instead of starting out by writing a book, try something more manageable, like an article or a short story. Publish a few of them and then, and only then, should you consider writing a book. You’ll make more money writing shorter pieces anyway. For the amount of time it takes to write a book, it’s a poor investment unless Oprah Winfrey features your book on her show or you just happen to get on the New York Times Bestseller List. You most likely have a better chance at riches by winning the lottery.

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