You Can Write and Publish a Book, 2

A couple weeks ago I said that “Yes, you can write and publish a book.” To follow up on that topic, beyond will and determination I mentioned that some research will be required. Like anything else, you get out of writing what you put into it. Little effort produces little result. Ask yourself what and why before you get too far along in that effort. Take the why first; why do you want to write a book? To become famous? It’s far easier to be famous first than expect a book to make you so, but if that is what you are really after, then you will either need to write something spectacular or do something very noteworthy–like generate a big hit on YouTube. Maybe you want to get rich? Well, take a look at the bestseller lists for the past few years and see how many new authors appear there; you will be disappointed. Maybe you just have something to say or feel compelled to write. Now you are in a better or at least more rational place. Getting somebody else to read that important topic you want to write about is a whole other thing that we’ll talk about later. In the meantime, as for the what that you want to write about.

Socalled experts (agents, editors, marketing types, etc.) will insist that if you want to publish your book, you must write what the public wants to read (and what those same experts want to market or sell). That may be true to the extent that you want to make a living as a writer, but as a major sci-fi writer told me years ago, most writers need a “day job.” Clifford Simak’s day job was being a city desk editor at the Minneapolis Star and Tribune; what he enjoyed doing (although not earning big bucks doing so) was writing his sci-fi books. So you decide–write about what interests you or write about what somebody else tells you will sell. I can tell you that non-fiction sells way more books than fiction. General fiction sells more than genre (mystery, sci-fi, romance, etc.) Among non-fiction, despite the controversies about fictionalized or fraudulent life-stories, memoirs are still big sellers. I can tell you from my own experience that it helps if you have  accomplished or experienced some earth-shattering or very unique events. Of course it will also help if you already happen to be a celebrity, hero, sports figure, politician, or otherwise famous. If none of those apply, do not despair. Write it anyway. But before you get too far along, get working on that platform or establish the credentials that you will draw on to write the book. Which brings up another what. If you can honestly claim expertise in some subject matter and it is that subject which you want to write about, then you do have a better shot than the average person. A teacher writing about education issues has a leg up on other people and a good start at creating a platform.

More on this topic later.