Thursday, October 11, 2007

So You Want to Write a Book?

By Francine Silverman

We’ve all heard people say, “When I retire, I’m going to write a book,” or “My life is so interesting, I think I’ll write my memoirs.”

You want to write a book?
Unless you answer these questions first –

1) Who am I writing this book for?
2) Is there an audience for this book?
3) How will I target my audience?
4) How does my book differ from others?
5) How will my book benefit my readers?
6) Who will publish my book?
7) How will I promote it?

If you’re writing a book for yourself, fine. But if you want to sell your book and possibly make some money, then you’ll need to view this as a business.

Let’s say you decide to write your memoirs. Who is interested in them besides you and your family? Okay, you’re a recovering drug addict who recovered by volunteering to help others with their addiction. Noble cause? But how will you target this audience? Where are the drug addicts who read books? You might have to talk to drug counselors to find them.

What sets your book apart from others? You wrote a novel. There are zillions of novels on the shelf. What distinguishes yours from the others? If you can’t answer this question, you may as well chuck the whole idea.

Who will publish your book? Will you self-publish and accept the responsibility of having it printed and placed on Amazon? Self-published authors retain all the profits.

If you go with a POD (print-on-demand) publisher, the publisher will print copies as needed. In both these cases, your book will not land in Barnes & Noble or The New York Times Book Review.

There is a great deal of prejudice against self-published and POD-published books, even though there are some fine writers among this population.

If you choose a traditional publisher, like Random House, you’ll need an agent. From what I understand, it’s not easy to land an agent, and even if you do, there is no guarantee the agent will sell the book to a publisher.

Finally, how will you promote your book? Bear in mind that publishers are in the business of publishing books – not promoting them. Unless you’re John Grisham or Stephen King, don’t expect your publisher to do the promotion. Too many authors are under the mistaken impression that their publisher will promote and are left holding the bag.

So before you take pen to paper, be sure you have a plan.

Francine Silverman’s latest book is Talk Radio for Authors - Getting Interviews Across the U.S. and Canada (Infinity Publishing 2007).

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