Even writers wonder if they should write a book. Do you? It’s a huge undertaking. It can also be one of life’s more satisfying undertakings, OR it can make you crazy and wish you’d never started. Or both! Often both.
When writers ask me if they should write a book or non-writers ask me if they should hire me as a ghost writer I give these four reasons for writing a book:
· If you have something important or interesting to write about.
· If you can block out enough time to get your book written, including editing.
· If you look forward to marketing your book and are sure reasonably sure you can be successful.
· If you don’t worry much about naysayers.
If you have something important or interesting to write about
Many people come to me saying ‘everyone says I should write a book.’ That may be the world’s worst reason. On the other hand, if you have something important and/or interesting to say, maybe you should.
According to Forbes Magazine somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books were published in 2013! It’s also interesting to note that probably about half those were self-published. One way to look at these numbers is every author thought they had information many others would need and want or a fabulous story to tell that would cause lots of people to buy their book.
You’ll need to feel passionate about your topic or story — that will help sustain you through the writing and marketing process. And yes, you’ll be marketing even if you land a trade publisher. It will pay you to do some serious research about your subject matter and see what you can find out about the possible market for your book.
If you can block out enough time to get your book written, edited and marketed
Writing a book takes serious time. I pretty much write three or four hours a day five days a week — that is I’m at the computer putting words down or editing words I’ve already written for roughly half of the typical working day.
Your mileage will vary. People have been known to successfully write a book five minutes at a time, others by writing early in the morning, late at night or on the weekends. Some professional writers put in way more than a 40 hour week on their projects. In other words, there’s no one way, or one amount of time that will assure you you’ll get your book written and marketed.
Figure out how much time you can carve out and factor that into your decision to write or not to write a book. That will also tell you roughly how many weeks, months or years your project will take. Know too that the schedule you set up today will probably change over time. Consider that this might not be the best time for you. You can always write later when you have more time.
If you look forward to marketing your book and are sure reasonably sure you can be successful
Know that even if you land a trade publisher, even if you’re rich and famous right now, you’ll have to market your book. Publishers may send you on a road trip or set you up with pod casters etc. YouTube, Zoom and other video conferencing will play ever more important parts in your marketing.
Note that each of these things can be done by you if you self-publish. All are time consuming and require either someone with special skills or learning the ever changing book marketing game yourself.
Also consider that no matter who you are there’s no guarantee your book will be wildly successful. You may have to settle for a much smaller definition of success. Maybe it will be enough for you to have actually completed a book. You get to decide.
If you don’t worry much about yeasayers OR naysayers
It’s surprising how many people may have an opinion about whether or not you should write a book. Tell a story of your sailing trip or drive across the country, or living in another country or raising a child, etc. etc. etc., and someone is bound to suggest you write a book. If this happens at a party or where there are a fair number of people it’s likely many of them will follow along and agree that you should write a book. They’re likely to be wrong. I think what they are really saying is they would like to have written a book and if they encourage to you to do so maybe they will someday too.
Hint to a friend or loved one you’re thinking about writing a book and you may find them telling you that you can’t, or shouldn’t or that no one makes money writing. They are likely to have at least one example of someone who never finished the book they started, or never got it sold.
In either case the chances are they know nothing at all about the book business. If they’ve done any writing at all it’s likely to be letter length or less. You can safely ignore these people.
Once in a great while you’ll run into someone who writes professionally, is a literary agent or somehow associated with the business of writing and selling books. It’s worth at least considering some of what they say. But you can get bad advice from pros, even me.
Chances are your life will be just fine if you never write a book. Unless, of course, you’re like me and others and simply know you have to. Then by all means figure out how to get it done.
Write well and often,
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