5 Important Tips for Aspiring WritersLast Updated: February 1, 2019
In business, successful operators are often urged to publish their stories or business secrets in a book. But there are many myths about publishing. Here are just 4 typical misconceptions, and 1 suggestion for busy entrepreneurs who want to fit publishing into their already busy schedules.
“THERE’S a book in that!” The thought might regularly occur to anyone, especially someone who has a way with words, and enjoys writing on themed topics, but there are important tips for aspiring writers to consider, which will make them see that the process is not that simple.
Some marketing gurus will often state that one should aim to be an expert, and write a book—perhaps spurred by the example of many business consultants who have gone that route. Many people think this is a four-step process. 1. Find a publisher >> 2. Get started >> 3. Submit materials for publication >> 4. Reap the Rewards.
But it’s not that simple. There are a number of classic misconceptions about publishing. There is an element of truth, but the process is not so simple, neither in totality, nor in each of the supposed steps, and here are five tips for aspiring writers to give you an idea why.
1. Finding a Publisher
“Writing may be art, but publishing comes down to dollars.”
– Nicholas Sparks
IT’S understandable that many writers want a publisher or an agent. The idea is that you take care of the brilliant and sparkling inspiration, and they take care of business. Right? Wrong.
Perhaps the most important of our tips to aspiring writers is that publishers and agents are businesses—they’re not your friend or muse. They have financial targets to hit.
To understand what publishers start by considering JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. She wrote the first of Potter books in Edinburgh cafés, while she and her daughter were living on benefits.
She received “loads” of rejections but the book was accepted by literary agent Christopher Little, who sent it to 12 different publishers before it finally ended up on Bloomsbury.
Aspiring authors should follow Rowling on Twitter—there are few better direct lines to an industry exemplar. Her Twitter feed is full of interesting tidbits, including the revelation reveals she was rejected even when writing pseudonymously!
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) March 23, 2015
So it requires luck, or many, many hours of hard work. If you’re an entrepreneur, intensely focused your business, the time required for traditional publication and completion will work against you, as will the energy-sapping round of rejections that even the most successful authors experience.
The reality is, decision-makers in publishing don’t have time to entertain pitches for ideas. They’re looking for completed work, and more. Author Nina Amir, in a guest post for Writer’s Digest, says that publishers are looking for a full seven-point business plan that incorporates the idea: market analysis on potential reader interest; analysis showing high sales among similar books; author credentials and a working platform; a marketing plan; plans for future books; and the final manuscript or at least sample chapters.
2. Getting Started
ERNEST Hemingway once wrote: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Of course, Hemingway wasn’t speaking literally—this would never work in the health and safety requirements of the modern workplace!—but observations like this have created the notion of the closeted author, feverishly writing, fuelled by naught but creative juices. And while setting to work would certainly seem to be the most important of tips for aspiring writers, it’s a lot more complex than that.
The process of capturing inspiration is memorably and affectionately parodied by the director Woody Allen in the opening scene of his classic 1979 movie Manhattan, in which his character goes through a number of alternate openings for his novel.
Once you’re in the creative zone, you simply allocate set daily writing time. Right? Wrong. It’s more, and it might be more than you can handle.
As we’ve seen, you must demonstrate that your idea will engage with a well defined target market, and how you will deliver your product to that market. To boil it all down to a succinct summary for our list of tips for aspiring writers, you need to treat publishing with as much intensity as you would a business plan.
3. Delivering Materials
“Nothing will come of nothing.”
THE misconception about delivering of materials is the idea of the finished manuscript. As we’ve seen from Nina Amir’s post above, the finished manuscript for many publishers is only the starting point.
They’re looking for a full business plan, incorporating a marketing and sales strategy, as well as projections for future work. This strategy, just a part of your overall business plan, must be concrete, and include an established author platform for sales in the short- medium- and long-term.
This requires time and commitment. If you have a sizeable blog following, it might be a good idea to focus on the audience and look at ways in which you can grow it, and also to monetise it.
The alternative is in business terms, nothing. And to reiterate that chilling line from Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, King Lear: “Nothing will come of nothing.”
4. Reaping the Rewards
ONE of the most important tips for aspiring writers is to be aware of the misconceptions about the rewards available for published authors. There is definitely reason to believe, for example, that there is a potentially substantial income stream for self-publishing on a blog platform.
But while this among the most useful tips for aspiring writers, you should be aware that it is truly viable only for standout creations, such as Michael Arrington’s technology entrepreneur site, TechCrunch, which was acquired by AOL in 2010 for US$30m. Bloggers are pitching content into a churning torrent of 3m new posts every day. Research shows that annual revenues of more than US$100,000 are possible, there were only 4% of bloggers in 2013 in that bracket, and just 11% of all bloggers making more than US$30,000.
The stark reality is that just over half of all bloggers make less than US$1,000 from their sites.
However, considering broader publishing industry data creates grounds for optimism. For instance, research posted on the authorearnings.com website states that as of September 2015:
- Nontraditionally-published” ebooks from indie self-publishers and Amazon publishing imprints make up 58% of all Kindle ebooks purchased in the US.
- Traditionally-published ebooks make up 42% of Kindle ebooks purchased in the US.
- The Association of American Publishers reports of “declining ebook sales” relate to the shrinking portion of the US ebook market held by their 1,200 participating traditional publishers, whose share of the broader US ebook market has fallen in the last 18 months from 46% of all Kindle ebook purchases to less than 32%.
But it’s clear that for most people, publication is not a get-rich quick scheme—possibly not even a means of getting rich, period.
Even the positives leave a persistent dilemma for those who may be active in business already, and want to pursue publishing as a sideline.
5. One solution
“Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.”
– Sylvia Plath
TO conclude our tips for aspiring writers, we are going to finish on a positive, despite opening with Ms Plath’s typically visceral imagery to convey the importance of getting your work into published form, if you have that ambition.
Simply put, author Tucker Max had a brilliant idea for changing the route to publishing for new authors; and it’s one that is already playing a part in changing the publishing game.
It’s called Book in a Box and the service that it’s is offering is golden, provided you have the necessary passion and commitment to see the process through If you need assistance, whether in copywriting or marketing, then the aptly named Book in a Box route can provide you with that expertise.
The promise to “turn your knowledge into a book in 12 hours is compelling. And although they will not be able to turn into a book every single pitch that they can receive, Book in a Box may at least help determine at an early stage whether it’s possible to turn your idea into a book.
If it is, it is a streamlined way for ensuring that not only your idea will be considered, but it will be expertly hammered into publishable shape, and published to the most professional standards.
As a positive concluding thought to this question, here’s Tucker Max himself, speaking about the company on a promotional video: