Become a Writer
Greetings ye who write or want to write!
When people ask me what is the criteria for being a writer, they often think I’m going to say you have to write so many pages a day, be published “x” number of times or make so much money before that esteemed title can be bestowed upon them. In my book (pun intended), you are a writer when you can look somebody right in the eye, introduce yourself as “Hi, I’m <insert your name> and I’m a writer” without bursting out laughing. I even encourage you to practice in the mirror until you’re able to execute these steps.
We are often our own worst critics as writers and/or we can’t take constructive criticism without feeling it’s a personal attack. The list of writers who have had their work rejected countless times goes on and on. Check out Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul or research the subject online. You will be pleasantly surprised and know that you’re in most excellent company.
I know the passion to get published that can drive a writer to do what it takes to get her or his name on a book. But unfortunately, some disreputable companies and individuals are taking advantage of a writer’s desire to be published. So with that in mind, let me offer some insights into what to look for when talking with a potential publisher.
In the passion to publish, some writers will hand over all of their rights to their current and future works. Another growing trend is the idea of co-publishing which I’ve seen presented in a couple of ways. One method is that the author and publisher split the cost of publishing the book. The other method is that the author holds the rights to the work but the publisher has the rights to marketing and distributing the work. That’s like having a beautiful car that you can’t take out of the garage without the publisher’s permission. Get educated on the various rights and ask questions of your publisher. Also, get numerical and see how many copies of your book you’re going to have to sell to recoup your costs.
The actual production of a book is easier than it’s ever been before whether it’s in print, electronic, or audio format. Once the book is written, just buy an ISBN, lay out the book, design the cover, and you’re good to go. All sorts of people can produce the book for you, but if you’re looking to sell the book, that’s only the beginning. Where the rubber meets the road is in the next two parts of the publishing process.
Before I formed Freundship Press and was looking to have others publish my books, I actually had a publisher tell me that they weren’t so interested in my ability to write as they were my ability to market since they could get somebody to edit my work. Through that process, I learned that reputable publishers expect the author to be actively involved in the marketing of the book. Unless you’re a best-selling author, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get busy. If the publisher doesn’t mention your role in the marketing process, be prepared for the marketing efforts to be less than promised. Ask to see the marketing plan for your book and make sure your contract has allowances for the publisher’s failure to follow through.
If your buyers can’t get your books, then they’re not going to sell. Pretty obvious, isn’t it? Find out where your books will be distributed in terms of both brick-and-mortar and online bookstores. What additional non-bookstores outlets will be selling your books? Check out the publisher’s other books on Barnes & Noble and other websites to see how their sales are and if they’re even available.
The bottom line is to get educated and to connect with a reputable publisher. Your dream of being published is worthy of being done right. Don’t ever forget that!
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much for your interest in writing!
Writing until I get it right!