For Those Who’ve Considered Publishing But Don’t Know Where to Start

Writing well is a learned skill and so is pubsharpen skillslishing well. Any one with a word processor and a high school diploma can write a book. And if one’s goal is merely to get a story down on paper or to simply say “I wrote a book” that’s fine. But if you really desire to make a mark in the writing and publishing industry one cannot stop there. Much more work needs to be involved.

Recently I was privileged to be a part of my county’s local author fair along with several other local authors. There were lots of people who came by to support the authors they knew personally or heard about, but there were also quite a few people there who came to pick our brains about our process in becoming authors, which is what any person seriously interested in writing and publishing should do. After having a few days to ponder and reflect on my experience in the years and months leading up to my official “coming out” as the author of an actual book, I’ve narrowed down my advice to four basic writing manners that matter. Enjoy and feel free to add more to the list.

1. Endeavor to perfect your craft. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. My 4th grade teacher praised my writing abilities and told my mother to buy me a journal and encourage me to use it. I’ve also been a print journalist in the U.S. Army Reserves, writing articles about military life. I’ve worked as a middle school ELA teacher, modeling for students how to effectively express themselves through words. I’ve been a part of several writing workshops and have taken writing classes. I’ve written for my church newsletter. In 2011 I started an online blog at the suggestion of a friend. Needless to say, I’ve had numerous writing opportunities in my life, and they have all helped to make me a better writer. I truly believe that in order to become a better writer one must write, and write, and write some more. Writing practice helps you to refine and define your unique voice. So, take a writing class, start a blog, or buy a nice journal and write until you’ve got something worth sharing with the world.

2. Make the best presentation you possible can. We women and many men too will spend hundreds of dollars without even blinking an eye to make a good impression with their outer appearance. By the time we get our hair, nails, and makeup done and bought the perfect outfit and shoes, the bank is most likely broken. But if it is the right occasion, we don’t mind much. Well, publishing a book is a pretty special occasion. Actually, it’s an uber special occasion, and the time to go all out with to present your best product to the world. After all, your writing is a reflection of you, so don’t skimp on quality. Plus, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This can determine if anyone will want to read anything else you publish in the future. Here’s where I think the most time should be spent after the piece has been written: revision and editing by a professional. It can be a little intimidating to have someone take a fine toothed comb to your writing, but don’t be afraid of the feedback. I would rather have someone pinch my feelings a little before the book comes out than to be slapped in the face by a bad review post printing. It is so worth the time and the money to have this step completed.

3. For goodness sake, READ. Just as writing more helps to improve writing, reading more does wonders. Reading what other good writers have written gives us access to lovely language, wonderful word usage, fancy phrasing, extraOrdinary organization ideas, and stylistic sentence structure (you get my point.) This is habit that I admit I need to increase. Contrary to what some may believe, reading more is not a waste of time. It is an absolute necessity for continued growth as a writer. So find something that you are interested in reading and read. As you read, pay attention to more than just how the writing makes you feel. Notice how the writer is creating this affect. It may help to put yourself in the writer’s shoes to really think about what strategies he or she is using. This can be a very complex skill, so taking a class or two in in close reading can also be beneficial.

4. Look for writing ideas everywhere. Now that I’ve published my first book I want to keep my writing momentum going so I’ve been writing more often than before. It is easy to run out of good things to write about when you write so often, which is why it is important to keep your eyes open (and read). I actually have “find a new writing topic” in my brain whenever I do anything now. So that means I’m constantly writing in my head and when something clicks I grab my phone to add the idea to my notes before I forget it. I may not end up using all of it, but at least I develop a bank of topics to pull from in the future. Eventually all of those scattered ideas may develop into a connecting of the dots experience. Before you know it, you’ve got enough material for a book.

5. Invest in your success. As the saying goes, to make money you have to spend money. I’m not suggesting that anyone spend an insane amount of money on publishing a book, but I am saying that a serious writer should be willing to make an investment that would yield a quality product. When I say quality product I’m referring to the look and feel of your book–in other words the very first thing that people see–the cover. If your cover is boring no one other than your close family, friends, and people who know of you and think it’s kind of cool to know a real author will want to read it. It’s cover appeal. I am convinced that though there are those who have lots of valuable content inside the book, some won’t get to engage with or benefit from that content if they are turned off by the cover. I’m not expert, but my suggestion would be to add an experienced graphic designer to your team. You’d be surprised at the quality you can get for not much more money than you’d pay doing it on your own or with the neighbor down the street who owns a digital camera. It’s okay to go cheaper on supplementary materials like book marks and other what nots, but not on your main product. Again, you want to showcase the best presentation of yourself and your work. You’ve worked too long and hard not to.

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TheGirl
    Feb 06, 2015 @ 16:59:40

    Some good tips, authors should also not just invest money but time as well. Different stages of editing, it can take a long time for a book to become published. So patience is a virtue.

    Reply

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