So You Want To Write A Book? Let’s Be Real.

I just released my latest book this past week. Yay. But it could also be my last book. I don’t know if I will write another novel but focus more on short stories and shift to more emphasis on my blog. I really don’t know what direction I will follow next. I am very unpredictable – even to myself.

Writing a book is a lot of work. If you think you can just write a book, have it published and make money from it – think again.

Don’t quit your day job.

For me, writing the first draft is the easiest part of writing a novel. The hardest part is editing and formatting it. It is torture. Slow, mind numbing torture. By the time I have finished the editing and formatting process, the story is very old to me.

As I stated above, this past week I released my latest book. This was my third self-published novel. Yes, I hope you caught that when I wrote SELF published. After finishing my novels, I take a significant amount of time – over a year on my recent novel – attempting to have it published with a traditional publisher. I have a cabinet full of rejection responses from publishers and agents. In fact, now you can’t even query publishers without agent representation. It has been no better with querying agents either. They are so swamped with submissions that you don’t stand a chance if they don’t know you.

Fortunately, there are self-publishing options out there to help writers to get their work published. That is the route I have taken. With my first novel, I naively assumed that if I just put my book out there that people would buy it. Let me give you a dose of reality here – not even your own family will buy your book. Just having it out there on Apple or Amazon or Barnes and Noble is not enough. You really have to go into it with being content that you have published a book. Writer’s hitting it big like this only happens in Hallmark movies.

For my second book, I amped up marketing by sending out promotional items to friends and acquaintances who could promote the book. I even paid for advertising. This resulted in disappointment as well. Aside for one of my favorite radio broadcasters, I have no proof that anyone followed through with promoting my book. When you promote your own book, you have to face the reality that you will be disappointed in the support. I won’t lie. It hurts when that happens but you also learn to manage your expectations. Book promotion is definitely a gamble when you are self-published.

When I finished my manuscript of Lovers Dead Mother, I had a contact who loved it and pitched it to a Hollywood Agent. My contact felt like it would make a good story for a movie. After sending it to the agent, following up a few times, I received no response. Zero. My initial excitement over the idea that a Hollywood agent was going to read my manuscript was soon doused with a cold water of reality.

You have to really love writing to do this. You can’t assume anything. I am getting to the place that I am learning to simply be content with what my writing is. It is nothing more than a hobby. Sure, there will always be a dream that I will “hit it big” but that is less anticipated that it was when I started. You just have to love writing. Period. Nothing more.

I started this writing journey when a sports editor gave me a chance to write my first article. I was hooked. That opportunity opened the door for me. Of course, had I known this earlier in my life, I might have pursued a degree in some type of writing or journalism. Unfortunately life doesn’t always roll out in an expected way. I’m not an expert in writing or grammar. More than likely you will find mistakes or some grammatical errors if you are that anal about stuff like that.

That’s another part of writing a novel. Everybody is an editor. It doesn’t matter how many times you edit your writing I can promise you than someone will find a mistake which violates someone’s rules for writing. That is another dose of reality that will hit you right between the eyes. If you are excited about your book and share it with others, some asshole will find something wrong with it instead of reading the story. Trust me on this. On my second book I decided to ask people to be my test readers. I only wanted them to read the story to make sure it flowed. I specifically stated I only wanted them to read it and not edit the book. You can guess what happened. There was wrong tense here or comma missing there. Except for my wife, I don’t ask for test readers anymore.

The best thing I have done to help me with me edit a book was to install a read aloud app which reads the text to me. You would be amazed how many things you can find to correct when the text is read back to you.

It’s still not easy. Is it rewarding? That’s hard to answer. You can’t really be motivated by rewards because you might not get it in the form of book sales or 5-star reviews. It does feel good when you finally hold a printed copy of your book. It is then that you feel like your book is complete.

Some athletes say they play for the love of the game, as a writer you have to do it for the love of writing. Anything else is gravy.