Zap! Suddenly, it strikes you like a bolt of lightning. You have a great idea for a book. You’re so excited! At first, your idea is a sentence. Then it grows into a summary for a plot. You enjoy your idea for quite a while… but…
Eventually, uncertainty creeps in. What do you do with your idea?
Write a book, of course! Wait a minute… That’s going to be a few hundred pages. If you sit down right now, you could type a page. Let’s see. If you type one page a day, how long will it take to write the book? Hmm, that’s about a year. That’s a lot of work!
Do you really want to invest a year writing a book? Hmm…
It sure would stink to do all of that work and then not get the book published. Maybe you should write a book proposal first. That way, if a publisher agrees to publish your book, you will surely be motivated to write it.
How do you write a book proposal? Gradually, you learn more and more about the process of writing a book proposal. It takes a lot of research just to find potential publishers willing to accept work by a first-time author in your specific genre. Then you must master the art of writing an effective query letter. If your query letter sparks the editor’s interest, then you must prepare a lengthy book proposal. Your proposal doesn’t just describe the book, so you must also describe your qualifications and even develop a marketing strategy? It might take months just to get a response. Ugh!
Why won’t the publisher market the book for you? Why should you have to do that yourself? You’re an aspiring writer, after all – not a salesperson. And why is there such a bureaucratic process just to see if the publisher is interested in your book? All you wanted to do is run a simple idea by some publishers to see if it’s worthwhile to write your book before you get started. Writing all of these query letters, researching to get the names of the specific editors for your genre, and preparing a lengthy book proposal sure seems like a lot of work.
So maybe it would be better to write the book instead? At least that will result in a finished product. Writing query letters and a book proposal might turn out to be a waste of time. What will you do with those if your book doesn’t get published? If you write the book and nobody wants to publish it, at least you can self-publish it.
Now you need to read up on self-publishing. Will you write a paperback book or an e-book? Why not both – you can reach more customers that way. Where will you publish? Now you need to research that. Oh boy! Now you don’t just write your book, you must also format your book, edit your manuscript, draw your own artwork, and even convert files to PDF format.
Maybe you could hire someone to do the formatting and do the artwork? How much will that cost? Will they do a good job? Will you sell enough copies to make it worthwhile?
Hmm… How about an agent? More query letters and proposals. That’s just like finding a publisher…
Boo! The publishers are scary ghosts. They hide under your bed when you sleep. Muhahaha! The self-publishing industry is a witch flying across the sky on a broomstick, looking for unsuspecting indie authors. Aaaooowww! Literary agents are werewolves, haunting writers during full moons.
It’s so scary! How will you ever escape from this nightmare? Why were you cursed with this book idea?
And then… Dun dun dun dunnn! It’s your fairy godmother to the rescue! She advises you that it’s not as scary as it seems.
Your fairy godmother sprinkles some confidence over your head. That’s right! You can do it! You had this great book idea for a reason. Carry it out and see where it leads.
But you don’t know where to begin, you plead. Your fairy godmother reminds you that your idea was to write. So start writing. Publishers and agents will want sample chapters. Whether you publish it yourself, try to find a traditional publisher, or search for an agent – in any case, you will need to write. As you make more and more progress writing your book, you’ll become increasingly motivated to learn how to publish your work.
Gosh! That’s a lot of writing. You’re not sure you can do it.
Your fairy godmother uses her magic wand to sign you up for your very own blog. Just write a little bit here and there, she tells you. Develop a character. Write a short story. Start out with small things that will help you with your book. If you get a few followers to express interest in your blog, that will help motivate you to work on your book. Who knows? By the time you complete your book, you might even have a small fan base already interested in it.
Your fairy godmother is right. It’s not as scary as it seems. Just get started. The more you write, the more you will get into it.
Good luck with your writing and publishing!
Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers