It’s easy to lose track when you’re writing a book, or when you’re working toward publishing it. Self-publishing is a journey. Sometimes you feel like you’re getting lost on that journey. We often find, when that happens, it helps to look at good examples of people who, whether they got lost along the way or not, found their way to their destination.
In 2013 we asked Amy Sorrells to write a blog post for us about the traditional publishing experience.
“To be honest,” she said then, “the editing process (which is finally winding down) has been the most difficult work my brain has ever done. Not awful, just difficult.”
Isn’t it when things get difficult that we find it’s easiest to get lost?
I thought I had a pretty good start, and I did – sort of. Then I had my first conversation with my editor (a very young, brilliant and cosmopolitan New Yorker) and learned the truth: my manuscript stank (stunk? Stinks!). It would require a near complete rewrite.
Wouldn’t that make you want to get lost? Doesn’t that sound terrible?
Your goals may be completely different from Amy’s goals, and your experience may never be like hers. But you reach the end of your publishing journey without staying on course.
Don’t give up.
– WBP –
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length. To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!
In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Lisa Anne Duda; author of “Faithful Sunshine.” Find her on Facebook and check out her website! To begin your self-publishing journey, get your free WestBow Press publishing guide today!
I wasn’t prepared for the experience. I felt blindsided as my sister and I helped our Mom face mortality. The events unfolded in a whirlwind. I felt as though I was on an emotional roller coaster watching helplessly as the past collided with the present. But God’s Grace shined through. God blessed each of us and words really can’t do justice on how He touched us with His love. I’m thankful that we were able to see His blessings. In stressful situations such as what we experienced, it’s easy to become blind to God’s messages. But we knew He was with us. In the end, I felt joy…the kind of joy that only God can incite deep within us.
As I shared the experience with others, I realized they could see God’s Grace as well. So I continued sharing the story. Then I started thinking that it would be nice to put the story on paper. If nothing else, it would serve as a personal memory of our experience. I didn’t want the details to fade with time. I didn’t want the beauty of God’s Grace to be forgotten. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do the story justice. But I wanted to press on. As my writing progressed, I started wondering if I should actually publish it. I had a sense of hope that my experience might help others see God’s Grace as well.
That’s when I reached out to WestBow Press. I had researched the publishing process and knew my best option was to self-publish. And I knew WestBow Press would give me the Christian support that I needed in order to share my story. I only had a portion of the book written when I turned to WestBow Press. I suppose I didn’t think it would take me that long to finish. In my mind, I was just the translator and the story would write itself.
But then I started having long bouts of writer’s block as well as various life events that took the focus away from writing. As the months turned into years, I felt guilty for taking so long to finish writing the book. And then, as I tried to make up the lost time, I began to think I was rushing it. But once again, God’s Grace shined through. It took almost seven years to finish writing and complete the publishing process. But in the end, I hope others will be touched in some way by my book Faithful Sunshine. I’m not an author. I simply needed to share this story. I wanted to share God’s Grace.
– WBP –
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation and length.
From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes brief accounts, written by our authors, about how self-publishing their books has affected their lives. The following are the words of Alice Anderson; who’s authored more than 60 books — this summer penning eight simultaneously. As a ghostwriter, she’s never credited with many of her literary creations. Alice did put her name on one of her latest works though, “Through the Bible in High Heels,” recently self-published with WestBow Press.
The bottom line on why I chose WestBow Press? It was the marketing and distribution services that lured me in. If I’m going to continue to support myself by authoring books, I need to concentrate on the actual writing process and on marketing my services as an author-for-hire or ghostwriter. Obviously I do as much marketing of my own books as I can: speaking at women’s groups, writers’ groups, and hosting book signings I’ve arranged across New England. I also knew I could not get as wide a distribution by myself as a royalty publisher could provide. That was especially relevant for my latest book, Through the Bible in High Heels, published by WestBow Press.
Nothing in the literary world is as difficult for me as catching my own typos and bloopers. Even though I always read a finished manuscript aloud to catch things the eyes miss, “oopsies” still fly under my radar. My eyes look at my manuscript and see it as a mother sees her only child: perfect—except it almost never is. The editorial services at WestBow caught things I would have never noticed, because I’m too close to my own work. And they did it nicely, without making me feel like a neophyte.
The WestBow staff is wonderful to work with! (Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition. Horrors! This is one author who’s been around the printing press a few dozen times, but please remember, I’m writing to you as a friend, not a grammar guru.) Every person I interfaced with at WestBow was pleasant, efficient, professional, and excited about my book. That meant a great deal to someone working at home alone. I really didn’t feel alone on this project, because WestBow staff were a phone call away, cheering me on and answering my concerns as they arose.
By the time the complimentary copies of High Heels arrived, I actually felt sadness at not being able to work with them anymore! Maybe I should write another book and have WestBow publish it? Actually, Through the Bible in Work Boots is already written and waiting in the wings. Too many husbands wanted to know when I was going to write one for them. Can the teenagers be far behind?
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-500 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.
James Hall’s book Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the 20th Century’s Biggest Bestsellers attempts to do what publishers and authors have failed to do since Gutenberg: identify what determines whether or not a book will become a bestseller. While Hit Lit focuses on novels, much of what he attempts to do should go into every author’s thinking as they determine what to write, how to write it and how to get readers to buy it.
Five tips for writing a bestseller:
1) Identify what readers want and need. Bestsellers tend to include similar themes and elements that appeal to common wants and needs of the readers. What are readers fascinated about right now? Readers want to learn something along the way and even gain an understanding of current issues. Readers cheer for characters that take risks and act decisively as they work through conflicts and dilemmas.
2) Write well. As editor Michael Korda said, “At least half the books on any given week’s bestseller list are there to the immense surprise and puzzlement of their publishers.” If a book triggers an emotional response in readers, they will mention the book to others, which helps boost the book’s sales. Many bestsellers deal with common wants and needs in new ways. While there is “nothing new under the sun” there are new ways of saying things.
3) Get readers excited. While publishers and authors that have connections with millions of readers have a distinct advantage, they do not have absolute power to drive the sales of an inferior book. The most important thing is getting the book in the hands of influential individuals and communities that have a natural affinity for the book. If they get excited about it they will tell others about the book.
4) Get lucky. It is easy to find books that are similar to any bestseller, so what caused one to ignite while the others fizzled? A book that provides a new approach to addressing a common need and is in the spotlight just when the urgency of that specific need increases can become a bestseller.
5) Repeat. The good news for successful authors is that readers that like a book typically want more from that author.
Since much of what determines whether a book sells well or not can’t be controlled, or even influenced by an author or publisher, it makes sense to focus on the few things that can be impacted.
What are you doing to improve the likelihood of your book becoming a bestseller?
Recent research from Digital Book World points out that authors still look to traditional publishers for the following:
WestBow Press is uniquely positioned to help authors ride the wave of self-publishing while experiencing the benefits that come from being affiliated with a traditional publisher. Look for news on what this can mean for your book in the weeks to come.
What problems are you trying to solve through your writing?
What do you want in a book publisher?