Thursday, July 30, 2009

Getting Published

You’ve finished writing a book. Congratulations! What now? How do you get your book to readers?

Traditionally, authors have sought a publisher to buy, print, and market their books. Most books sold in this country still come from the large publishing houses, such as Penguin and Random House. But getting a publisher to take on your book––especially if you’re a new writer––is becoming increasingly difficult.

The good news is, today you have options that didn’t exist until recently. E-books constitute the fastest growing segment of the publishing business. Electronic books can be purchased on line, usually for much less than a printed book, and downloaded to your computer, iPod, Kindle, or other device. Most of the big publishers, as well as many smaller ones, now offer e-books. Some publishers only handle e-books. This new area of the business expands possibilities for authors and readers alike.

Print-on-demand or POD books are gaining popularity, too. This do-it-yourself method allows you to print your own book in small quantities. You become the publisher; you not only write your book, you design, promote, and distribute it as well. You retain total control. If you’re talented, you can lay out your book’s pages on your computer and design a cover––or hire someone with technical skill to do it for you. Download the digital files to a CD, then take the CD to a good copy shop or printer who’s equipped to produce PODs. They’ll run off and bind as many copies of your book as you desire. If you intend to use your book as an adjunct to your business, or only plan to offer it to family members and friends, this could be the best choice for you.

Never before have authors had so many avenues open to them. Consider your goal, your audience, and your resources to determine which option is right for you.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Writing for Fun and Profit

Do you have a story to tell?
Would writing a book benefit your business?
Want to preserve family memories for your children and grandchildren?

Eighty percent of Americans say they want to write a book. Yet very few ever do. Why not?

Some people think they don’t have time––and yes, writing a book does take time. But not as much as you might imagine. The average book is about 60,000 words long. If you write only 500 words a day, you’ll finish your book in just four months. (And if you’re like the average American, you spend four hours a day watching TV––time that could be used to write your book.)

Others think they don’t have talent. Of course, if you intend to write a Nobel Prize winning novel, you’ll need outstanding talent. But if your goal is to pass on family memories to the next generation, you needn’t be Shakespeare––your experiences, insights, and information are what count.

The same holds true if you’re writing a book as an adjunct to your business. What you say matters more than how you say it. According to a study done by called “The Business Impact of Writing a Book,” 97 percent of the 200 authors surveyed said publishing a book benefited them and their businesses. These people weren’t expert writers, but they were experts in their professions––and readers valued their knowledge.

Actually, the biggest reason most people never write a book is they simply don’t know how to begin. They feel overwhelmed by the prospect. They give up before they start.

Don’t let your saga die unsung! Here are some tips to help you get past square one.

Decide why you want to write a book. Compose a short paragraph––50 words or less––that describes your objective. Like a company’s mission statement, this helps you focus your ideas and establish priorities.

Determine who your audience is. Are you writing for your family? Your clients? People who share your interest in gardening, quilt-making, or restoring antique cars? Imagine them sitting in front of you as you tell your story.

Create an outline. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, an outline helps you organize your material. Like a roadmap, it lets you see where you’re going so you stay on track.

Write something every day. Even if it’s only a page or two, even if you end up throwing it away tomorrow, make writing part of your daily schedule. As is true of any skill, you’ll improve with practice and it gets easier the more you do it.