Many of you know about 1) my life dream of publishing a book and 2) that I’m working on one AND currently re-writing my first manuscript.
The number one question folks ask me when I say I am working on a book is, “When is it going to be published?” Followed by “I want to read it.” Which is a nice way of saying, “Hurry up! When are you going to be done?”
While I’m thankful that folks are interested in what I am doing, I have to say that the answer to the question is not so simple as hurrying up. And it’s not about my procrastination. I am writing all the time. I’ve been striving toward all of this for quite some time now– more than 2 years (hard to believe it has been that long). I’ve been putting in my 10,000 hours with hopes of getting better at what I do along the way.
But, I am not done.
I want to tell you why: especially in the genre of memoir (which is what this book will be) it takes time for reflections to settle into their proper place on the collection of papers. I am re-writing my manuscript because the way I view the same set of experiences has changed over the last year. I recently came to some real clarity, but that took time. But, if I simply rushed a year ago to get out what I had to offer, it wouldn’t have been fair to you (the potential readers) or my story.
Furthermore, the publishing industry is complicated. Sure, there are those who are famous enough to have a publisher ask them to send in a proposal or make them a verbal offer that leads to publication within the year. But I am not one of them.
So, just because you’ve completed a manuscript, someone in my shoes has not reached the finish line. It’s only the start. There’s lots of considerations to make in choosing what publishing route to take.
Do you want an agent?
What kind of publishing company do you want to pursue (small, large, well-known, secular, religious, etc)?
Do you want to self-publish?
What is your marketing plan?
All of these decisions are not ones that can be made on the fly because there’s a book proposal to write. You write your proposal (or not) depending on how you answer these questions. What is included in a book proposal differs by publisher, but it’s usually another 40+ page document that includes an outline, sample chapters, a marketing plan and most of all what makes your book sellable to a particular audience.
Then, once you enter into conversation with publishers, there are key decisions to make like how much are you willing to compromise of your vision based on what the editors think of your work. You also need to start making plans for what will you book launch look like, and what will your media plan be. So, those who say they get a book handed to them on a silver platter are lying or they’re really cooler than I could ever be.
Most of all, writing a book is hard work. It’s not about the money you will make doing it (unless you are JK Rowling). And it’s not all about moment of publication either. It’s about perseverance. It’s about what you learn about yourself in the process. And it is about feeling so passionate about sharing part of yourself and your ideas with the world that you’ll do what it takes to finally see it come together.