Question: I am an aspiring non-fiction writer. What will be the challenges and rewards to writing and publishing my own book?
Answer: You’re kidding, right? Well, good for you. Go out and strive for the best but look out for potholes. These include, but are not limited to:
Inspiration: Everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning besides needing to pee and feed the cats. Heck, even getting a coffee is a struggle some times. But no matter what you do in life, finding that motivation or inspiration to do it can be mind boggling.
Serendipity in Dogma said it best, “I can rain down thousands of ideas on others, but when it came to my own work, writer’s block.”
Not everyone is destined to be a writer, but if you are, make sure to keep a notepad of ideas and articles to write about in order to keep the creative juices flowing. Even non-fiction writers need to be inspired.
Self-Publishing: Anyone can write a book (well, almost anyone). Getting that book polished so people will read it is another thing. The self-publishing world is full of half assed editing and clichés. Generally, when I am looking for a book to read for pleasure, I look for something that is not self-published. Small or micro press publishers with good reputations are who I read now.
The last self-published book turned out okay, but the repetition and tense changes drove me insane. Even the writer acknowledged the rating I gave them. You need to have a good editor. Heck, you need at least two good editors, to look at your manuscript prior to publishing. This is paid for out of your own pocket. Make sure you budget for it. Usually it will cost around $1/page for adequate editing. Spend $3/page and you should have someone who knows what they are doing.
Cover art is another issue. Get a good graphics artist and they will charge you around $300 – $700 to do the cover for you. Worth it. Good cover art will draw people to pick the book up. Bad cover art and people usually don’t even give it a second glance. The last thing you want to be on is bad covers (a website). They really tear into authors who don’t spend enough thought about cover art.
Now that is finished, blog until your fingers bleed. You need to get interest in the book, unless spending all that money and not caring for a return is what you want. Yes, you have to beat the streets and stand on a soap box. Why? Because that is the only way you’ll get attention to your book. No, you cannot just publish it and people will buy it. Heck, with hundreds of books published on a daily basis you’ll be lucky to hit anyone’s radar. Your blog will help. Twitter is a friend. Google+ is not dead. Facebook will get more than friends. Also create professional pages on your social media for the book as well as yourself. Keep your personal and business life separate at all times.
You’ll need to read as well. Websites with marketing information, books to keep your mind alive, emails, and much more. Not stopping is what you need to do. Advertise your blog and get a writing gig where you submit to a newspaper or magazine. Make sure they publish your work. You can exchange advertising in exchange. You could even use high profile websites as a guest blogger. There are a lot of low or no pay article sites for you. Get known, have people follow you, and hope they buy your book.
Give-A-Ways: GoodReads is great to make you spend your money. They want people to know about your book so they have a give-a-way option for you. Make people come to their site and put in for a free copy. Don’t worry, there are plenty of people who will want your book. Less will buy it. In fact, for each give-a- way you run it takes 5 book sales to make up. Yes, it costs you, and Amazon (they own GoodReads) will get more money because they get the traffic. Never do an e-Book give-a-way.
Get on TV: Easier said than done. You need exposure, so anything you can do to make people look you up will help. They say for every 100 people who look at your book only 1 buys. I tend to think that is overstated, but it is close.
Best of all make sure you have a good support group to help you through all the heartaches you’ll experience as a writer. People sure want to take your book, just make sure you get money in return.