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One of my bucket list items to accomplish in life is to write a book, whether it is fiction or nonfiction.
I can only imagine how satisfying it is to have something you conjured up in your mind put into print and actually have customers purchase it.
Although blogging provides me with a creative outlet to put virtual pen to paper, I think the permanency of having an actual published book takes it to the next level.
As it took over 2 years for me to break the chains of complacency and start a blog, I am not sure what sort of timeframe it will take before I attempt publishing a book.
Fortunately the barrier for publishing a book has been lowered considerably with the advent of self-publishing avenues.
It also helps to have friends and colleagues that have actually published books so you can pick their brains.
There is no reason to reinvent the wheel.
You can learn from their mistakes and make the overall process go much smoother.
A friend of the blog and fellow radiologist, Cullen Ruff MD, has enjoyed the success of writing a best selling book on Amazon and volunteered to share some pearls he picked up along the way that may help us if we choose to follow his footsteps.
XrayVsn has written before on side gigs that people pursue, and he has invited me to write this guest blog on publishing.
My first book launched this year, and so far so good.
Amazon even calls it a best seller in its category.
That does not mean that the publishing process was easy, quick, or straightforward.
Lessons were learned along the way.
Yet before we get into the publishing process, first ask yourself two questions:
1) Why might you want to write?
If your main answer is to make money, then reconsider now.
Most writers cannot support themselves by their pen.
For every best-selling author, there are thousands of writers who earn their primary living by other means.
Most aspiring writers never get around to completing the work they start, and most who do still make little net profit.
I do not say this to be discouraging, just realistic.
Write because you have something to say.
Whether you have a story, an experience, or a perspective that people will find meaningful, your passion in sharing will shine through.
That goal and accomplishment are worthwhile and satisfying in themselves.
Yes, getting paid for what we do is always rewarding.
So are compliments from satisfied readers.
Still, most of us make more per hour at our day jobs than writing will ever pay.
Write because you want to, or because you feel you must.
Making good money by writing is icing on a cake that most will never taste.
2) Are you prepared to do much more than just write?
Writing can be challenging enough.
Sometimes words flow, while other times we hit blocks that take effort to overcome.
Get something down, edit, and enlist others to help.
Make your work good, polished, and presentable.
Ready for print now? Not so fast…
There are many important steps toward publication.
These vary considerably, depending on the work, the author, the audience, the medium, and the ever-changing industry.
Most writers attaining even small to moderate levels of success have to be marketers and entrepreneurs, and most of us have to learn how as we go.
There are many resources for writers seeking publication.
Do your homework, as this article cannot explore in depth.
Briefly, for commercial books, the traditional route was often first to find a literary agent to represent your work, then the agent submits your work to publishers to try to secure a deal.
Agents get paid on sales commissions, not directly by you.
Getting an agent is challenging, and it requires multiple submissions.
Develop thick skin and prepare for rejection.
Select carefully when querying, as the agent who handles only nonfiction will not look at your e.g. romance/mystery/children’s fiction work, regardless of how good you think it is.
Agents take their time replying, if they even bother to reply at all.
Submit whatever their websites specify that they want.
Usually for fiction, that means an entire finished work, whether a novel, or perhaps a collection of short stories or poems.
For nonfiction, agents typically request a proposal, which includes sample chapters, an outline, and a marketing strategy.
Again, research what and how to submit before you do so.
Find print or online resources to help you draft a proposal.
Agents get many submissions daily, so they find all sorts of reasons to reject.
While major commercial publishers usually only take submissions from an agent, smaller publishers and university presses may accept unrepresented submissions for consideration—although they also reject most of what is submitted.
University presses and smaller publishers often specify the types of work they are interested in, so again, do your homework first to try to find a good match.
In general, an established publisher provides assistance with everything from editing and proofreading, to cover design, layout, registration, and marketing.
However, publishing companies have been facing industry financial challenges for some time now, so author advances and marketing budgets are usually not what they used to be.
One trend more prevalent with smaller publishers in particular is hybrid publishing.
The publisher still vets submitted work and only accepts selected manuscripts for print, but also requires that the author contribute to the set up expenses, which cover a professional editor, proofreader, layout, and cover design.
Think of hybrid publishing as being along the spectrum between conventional and self-publishing.
Hybrid published authors still have a publisher navigate the system for seeing a book to completion, and authors earn a higher percentage of sales per copy.
This incentive encourages the author to market, in order to recover set up expenses and start earning profit.
Alternatively, self-publishing options abound now and may be worth considering, particularly for unrepresented work that does not fit the profile of large or smaller publishers.
Authors who self-publish are responsible for the whole process, from the writing and editing, to the layout, registration and marketing.
Self-publishing requires a great deal beyond finishing the written work, but also allows for greater control of one’s project—and keeping the largest percentage of any sales proceeds.
Self-published authors may have to work the hardest to generate sales.
These days, however, even authors with large and small publishers should expect to do the vast majority of their marketing, if they want the book to succeed.
With these different avenues of publishing described, understanding the nuances of the industry can be daunting for the novice author.
There is a lot to consider here beyond the scope of this article, so again, first look for additional resources.
One suggested starting place is The Authors Guild.
That is all we will cover here with this introduction to publishing.
In a future guest blog, we will explore different ways to connect and market one’s work.
Cullen Ruff MD (https://www.cullenruff.com) is a radiologist in private practice; an associate professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Fairfax, VA; and author of the Amazon bestseller of Looking Within: Understanding Ourselves through Human Imaging.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN