From The New York Times:
“I’d like to write a book someday.”
Like many writers, I said this for years before finally deciding to commit to the long and grueling process of publishing my first book, which is about personal finance.
Most authors would probably agree that writing a book is one of the most difficult challenges of their careers. You spend your summer inside writing while your friends post photos of their beach vacations on Instagram. Once your book is published, the work is far from over: You must now sell it like your career depends on it, because it kind of does. Failure is a constant fear, and impostor syndrome can feel overwhelming. But more often than not, it’s also completely worth it.
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Before you write your first word, ask yourself: Do I have an audience? And, most important: Does my idea actually appeal to readers?
“My most common recommendation for people who want to write a book is, ‘Don’t — not yet,’” said Ramit Sethi, the author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” “Build a large audience first.” Mr. Sethi, whose nonfiction personal finance book started as a blog with the same title, was able to amass hundreds of thousands of readers before he landed a book deal.
Even though you might not need to write the entire book before pitching it, it’s likely that if an agent or potential publisher likes the idea, they’ll still want to see at least two sample chapters. In any case, you’re going to want to fully flesh out your idea and write up those sample chapters before reaching out to agents, or, if you’re still building an audience, a few blog posts on your topic. Doing so will give you a deeper sense of what your book is about and what the rest of the writing process will be like — and this will also help you firm up your ideas of what the rest of the book will be like.
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Self-publishing means publishing your book on your own, or with the help of a self-publishing platform like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or CreateSpace, which is also owned by Amazon. Barnes & Noble also has a self-publishing platform.
“As a self-published author, you have more control of your work because you have more control of your deadlines and budget,” said Nailah Harvey, author of “Look Better in Writing.” “Some people do not work well with the pressure of third-party deadlines, so self-publishing may be a better fit for their personality.” You also have full creative control over your work, Ms. Harvey said, whereas with a publisher, you may have to bend to their ideas for your book title, cover and content.
Mr. Sethi, both a traditionally published and self-published author, said your choice will partly depend on what’s more important to you: profit or credibility. Traditional publishing lends you the latter, while self-publishing can be more profitable because you won’t have to give a percentage of sales to an agent and publisher. On the other hand, an agent and publisher might be able to help increase your reach to make those sales.
When I started to get serious about my idea, I bought “How to Write a Book Proposal.” From there, it was two and a half years until I convinced an agent to represent my idea, and another year and a half before my book was on a shelf.
“I think you should plan for at least one year to write the first draft of a book, and a second year to rewrite it,” Ms. Perhach said.
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“Writing is like putting together Ikea furniture,” she added. “There’s a right way to do it, but nobody knows what it is.”
Link to the rest at The New York Times