Want To Write A Book? You Sure?

  As the pushpushpushpushpush of book promotion and marketing for “Malled’ My Unintentional Career in Retail” continues — today offering interviews with two Canadian newspapers, a photo for my local newspaper and a radio interview — time for a reality check on the reality of book-writing.

Yes, this photo is of me, summer 2010 — mid-revisions!

Writing a book, for me, is a tremendous joy. I love having months to think long and hard about what I am trying to say and how. I love doing interviews for background and a better understanding of my subject, and reading entire books — ten for this one, on low-wage labor, retail and management — to make sure my individual impressions aren’t overly personal and limited.

But, having just attended the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference in Manhattan, I also appreciated listening to the comfort and wisdom of more experienced friends who have published five or six or eight books.

They all know the giddy excitement of signing that contract with your publisher, getting the manuscript in and accepted, publication date — and the anxiety over reviews. Will you get any? How will you handle the savage ones?

Writing and promoting your book(s) is an extraordinary process. It can also be an emotional roller-coaster.

At a dinner table after the conference, four of us — who had never before met — brainstormed how one of us, a fellow Canadian, might best introduce his non-fiction book, The Erotic Engine, into the American market.

Three of us: a education specialist from Vermont, a home decor writer from Florida and I all gave it our best efforts, all while eating some great Italian food.

I love and live for this sort of generosity and camaraderie. At the conference, when I went up to panelist Kathleen Flinn, whose memoir of attending cooking school in Paris, “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry” was one of my favorites, she was excited to meet me. (!) She’d heard about Malled, as had many people at the conference.

Becoming a published author and climbing the many necessary steps along the way: finding an agent, writing a proposal, finding a publisher, writing, revising and then tirelessly marketing and promoting it, is a little like joining the military.

Really want to write and sell your book? Drop and give me twenty, soldier!

Whatever branch of service — cookbooks, YA, memoir, biography, history — we earn those stripes! We all experience many of the same issues and challenges and — like veterans of battle — know that we all know intimately what others only fantasize about.

Writing books means joining a long ladder of success, with many rungs.

Some books become huge best-sellers, leaving the rest of us gnashing our teeth in envy. Others become films or television series. Many find their own niche, buzzing along through social media and word of mouth.

Some just…die.

Do you hope to write a book? What do you hope to do with it?

What steps are you taking to get there?

7 thoughts on “Want To Write A Book? You Sure?

  1. It came to me very suddenly this week: No book I try to write in the future will ever be the one I write now. I’m sure I want to write a book. I’m also sure that my chances of getting that book published are slim to nill. I write for the love of it and in the hope that at least those nearest to me may one day enjoy what I have written. I support myself by teaching English and am applying for a scholarhsip to study for a masters in Journalism. I keep a notebook with snippets of my thoughts and I keep a blog. Other than that, I try to read the work of those I’d like to emulate one day. For me, it’s not about publishing or not publishing but about writing something that I’m proud of.

  2. Good point.

    But I’m not sure your chances are “slim to nil” if — and that’s a big if — it’s what you really want to achieve. I have written many unsold book proposals before I did sell the two books (so far!) I’ve been able to.

    Many writers would agree that persistence is an enormous part of success in our field.

  3. I have a half written book. One day I would like to finish it. I write for myself. I find it is the best therapy. I wish you the best in promoting and selling your book.

  4. I have written 12 self-published books, ebooks as well as 2 home study courses and operate 2 membership sites online that require content updates weekly.

    In the realm of non-fiction, it all comes down to picking markets and topics where you mix your passion, experience with helping people answer questions, frustrations and demand within those markets.

    If you do a good job at targeting demand, then your written work will find an audience whether you choose to go the traditional publishing route or self-publish.


  5. I would love to write a book (several, actually!) one day, but right now I’m in the stage of “learning from personal experience”. I’m planning to write narrative non-fiction, but a lot of what I’ll be writing about needs to be lived first. 🙂

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