Here you’ll find all kinds of interesting stories from authors on their journey to getting published, as well as some useful advice for first-time authors. If you’re contemplating writing your own book, it’s my hope that you can get some inspiration and ideas from some of these stories. 🙂
Personally, I really enjoy reading about why and how people published their own book, as the stories are so interesting and diverse.
To put this compilation together, I reached out to many different authors and put out this query on some of the journalism sites I belong to:
For people who have published a book (including self-published) or ebook online, we’d like to hear your story: why’d you decide to write a book, how’d you get it published, are you glad you did it and what advice would you have to other aspiring authors?
I am still collecting stories from different authors, and you can expect this article to be updated frequently in future. I also had to be somewhat selective about what stories to include (i.e. stories that others would actually find interesting and/or helpful).
Here’s a quick summary of the stories I’ve collected so far, along with my favorite quote of wisdom from each one:
- Wanting to write a book on brain health, and after chatting with another author on a whim, finally taking the leap to start writing it (link) (lesson: “get out and meet people, talk to them tell them about your ideas, you never know who you might meet”)
- Writing to help women who are in an unhappy marriage (link) (lesson: “there are too many people offering the keys to successful book publishing and marketing. Pick the ones that are congruent with your book and personal style and follow them”)
- Publishing a children’s picture book through the authors own publishing house (link) (lesson: “spend the most time choosing a good illustrator”)
- A 10-time book author briefly recaps their experience (link) (lesson: “For traditional publishing to work, they have to have both a compelling idea and book AND a large audience. Often, I recommend self-publishing first, and then approaching bigger publishers once you have a track record”)
- A first-time author spends close to $20,000 putting a book together before significant sales come in (link) (lesson: “know how to sell your books prior to production if you are going for self publishing”)
- Writing a book to honor the memory of a friend who passed away from cancer (link) (lesson: “For aspiring writers, you have to know your “why.” Why are you writing the book? It’s an exhaustive experience and if you don’t have a strong enough why, you’ll procrastinate and quit.”)
- A writers husband encouraging her to publish a book she’d written a decade earlier (link) (lesson: “Do it NOW. In the blink of an eye, you will be in bed tonight and today will be over. We will not live forever. But that inner world that only we know inside our mind CAN live forever on the pages of a book.”)
- Writing a military romance novel (link) (lesson: “participate in the writing hashtag games on Twitter to tighten your prose, and join several Facebook groups for marketing, including 20Booksto50K, and genre-specific groups on all social media platforms.”)
- A professor is urged to write a book by their students (link) (lesson: “Don’t worry about what others will think, write your own story. There are people who really need to read what you want to write.”)
- Writing a book on podcasting and selling it by advertising it to a podcast mailing list (link) (lesson: “The first step in self-publishing a book is writing something with a clear focus and expertise.”)
- Writing “to satisfy my own need to share the results of my dive into deconstructing happiness” (link) (lesson: “recognize there is an art, craft, science and business of writing and selling your book”)
- Battling with obesity and writing about it several years later (link) (lesson: “Tell your story whether it’s fictional or nonfictional. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you because there will always be someone there who resonates with it and helps them in some way”)
- Putting together a book of real stories from healthcare professionals (link) (lesson: “join writing groups that meet in person/virtually where you can discuss ideas”)
- Writing about losing a pet after facing the death of a dog (link) (lesson: “If it feels like there’s a pressure inside you that is released when you put your words on paper, then you need to write.”)
- A professor and attorney writing a book about American presidents (link) (lesson: “Authors need to understand that it is not enough for most of us to create a book, we need to make sure that someone reads it.”)
The overall theme is that the vast majority, if not all, of authors are glad to have published a book (even though it’s clearly a tough racket to make any money from book sales). And the overwhelmingly most common piece of advice is JUST DO IT!
I decided to write the book because it seemed kind of crazy to me that no one was talking about brain health. I'd been on a mission for years to get people to look after their brains as routinely as they look after their teeth. I'd developed lots of free online materials including, animations, websites and a free app. I wanted to get everything in my head into a book but I felt that it was too much of a longshot to just send a manuscript to potential publishers so the book stayed in my head.
One day I was interviewed on an afternoon TV show in Ireland and another guest said that he really enjoyed my interview. We got chatting and asked him why he was on the show and he told me it was to talk about his series of detective books - I said that I was impressed that he had written so many books and told him that writing just one book was on my bucket list - he asked me what I would write about - I told him and he said if I wrote like I spoke that he reckoned it would be a best seller.
He told me that he had the best literary agent in London and we exchanged email addresses - Next morning he emailed me to say he'd told his agent about me and she wanted to know when I could have two chapters to her - I dropped everything and wrote two chapters over the next few days. Long story short the biggest literary agency in London signed me and months later I had a book deal.
My Fairy Godfather's prediction was right my book went to number one in the non-fiction charts in Ireland the week it was launched.
I got a second book deal with the same publisher and am just about to submit it to my editor.
It is one of the best and most rewarding things I've ever done.
Advice - get out and meet people, talk to them tell them about your ideas, you never know who you might meet.
--Sabina Brennan, superbrain.ie
Author of 100 Days to a Younger Brain
In October 2018, I published my first book, Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist? to help women who, like I was many moons ago, were unhappily married and wanted a way out of their misery.
I decided to publish independently because of the convenience and it has been the ride of a lifetime! Writing and publishing the book was the easy part. To my surprise, marketing it was a full-time job.
The experience has been rewarding (I was an Amazon bestseller in 10 categories and I get wonderful feedback from people I've helped) and I'm doing it again. This fall, my next book, Relationship Solutions: Effective Strategies to Heal Your Heart and Create the Happiness You Deserve, will be hitting the shelves.
From my mistakes and triumphs, here are some pointers I would share with aspiring authors:
1. Do it! Just do it!
2. Do not launch until you get your ducks in a row. Take your time and do it right.
3. Do not fall in the rabbit holes: there are too many people offering the keys to successful book publishing and marketing. Pick the ones that are congruent with your book and personal style and follow them, instead of following every magic formula out there.
4. Beware this is a big commitment. Don't do it if you're not willing to go the extra mile.
--Sonia Frontera, soniafrontera.com
Author of Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist?
I published a picture book in February with my own publishing house called BiblioKid Publishing. I decided to self-publish my own books because I didn't want to wait the very long time it takes to publish a book traditionally. (I decided to quit my job to write full-time, so I need to have books out.)
I've previously published through sources like Amazon's KDP, however, for my children's book, I didn't want to use those resources because I wanted to be able to offer hardcover copies of my book and eventually I want to be able to help other authors publish their own kids' books. (BiblioKid Publishing will open up late this fall to submissions from other authors.)
If anyone is thinking about publishing a children's book themselves, I definitely recommend they spend the most time choosing a good illustrator. It's 50% of the quality of the book so you want to make sure it's a good fit with your writing. Also, make sure you learn the industry ahead of time and know how to best market your book so you get started with good momentum and don't feel defeated if you only sell a handful of books in the first week.
--Brooke Van Sickle, BiblioKid Publishing
Author of Pirates Stuck at 'C'
As a 10-time book author and book shepherd who helps other authors, every journey is different. I've published with Wiley, Simon & Schuster, Stackpole, Morgan James, and Chelsea Green, and had one book co-published by Infinity and my own imprint. My first book was because of a personal connection with a co-author. But my second was that super-rare cold query to an agent, followed by a proposal the agent requested, and resulting in a sale to a major publisher. And my third, I sold the concept on the floor of a trade show. Five of my books have been self-published, and five traditionally published.
For my clients, the first thing I do is assess which publishing model is right for them. Usually the answer is true self-publishing, but I've encouraged a few to seek traditional publishers or to use a subsidy publisher. For traditional publishing to work, they have to have both a compelling idea and book AND a large audience. Often, I recommend self-publishing first, and then approaching bigger publishers once you have a track record. You have much better odds and also get treated much better that way.
--Shel Horowitz, FrugalMarketing.com
Author of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (among others)
For me the decision to write a book was prompted by two factors - first, that I had upended a conventional medical belief, and second, that part of the data I used to do that was not available to anyone, anywhere. Part of the source material which was unavailable came from an ancient text from the late 1700's. If you could find the book to purchase, it would have cost 5,000 pounds. My obsession with the lymphatic system was coming from a completely different place than medical professionals - and I developed methods to manipulate the deeper lymphatic system externally, unlike others who do lymphatic drainage massage.
I wanted researchers and physicians to have access to the same information, as well as some insights from my work, one of which was a connection between the lymphatic system and Chinese Medicine. For that reason, as the work progressed, I also had the book translated into Chinese, Hindi and Spanish.
As COVID19 was raging and I wanted the information available, hoping to save lives, I put constant pressure on myself to finish.
I hired a professional photographer who beautifully captured the images I wanted to share. In order to preserve the details of those images, it was necessary to produce an oversized book (12'x18'). I wanted to control the quality of the book, and I didn't have time to argue or convince a publisher (even if I found one who could handle the size) to take on the project. Since I have resources I proceeded to self publish. In order to keep costs down we chose an unconventional format which actually made the books more usable. The difference in cost between binding an over sized book versus using Spiral binding was $176 per book, not including the costs of paper and printing.
Layout and proofing involved a total of six people and much time was spent simply driving all over the area getting the participants proofs.
Towards the end of the process I recognized that I might be forced into not being able to drive at all (over 65 and California had just ordered people my age to stay home) so the pressure continued to mount.
Once the book was finished I set out to use free social media to promote the book, expecting to drive revenue for continued advertising from it. Unfortunately, the fact that the book is timely, is stunning, and isn't overpriced didn't result in the types of sales I had hoped for. It never occurred to me there would be a problem marketing the book.
I'm still in a learning curve - in fact, when looking to learn more about Outwit Trade, I found the community discussion, Tips for running Facebook ads, from actual business owners, and jotted down notes from the advice given. It's next on my to do list. I recently located a source who makes recommendations specifically to medical research libraries and just dropped a bit less than 3K for advertising. I had outlays for two websites (one is for the publishing company I set up, the other was specific to the book) being designed, hosted, with some hoops bells and whistles. Current out of pocket is approaching $20,000 (that's for 100 books) and I have sold a total of two books; some have been sent out for review to others.
There are other approaches which would have required less outlay. I share the information so that awareness of costs can be considered by others.
So the most important advice I would give - is know how to sell your books prior to production if you are going for self publishing. And be aware there are multiple costs - even something you might not consider. Free websites end with E Commerce.
--Margo Benge, NorthNodePublishing.com
Author of Lymphatic Anatomy - Ancient Art, New Directions
I wrote a book to honor the memory of a dear friend and employee who passed away from cancer. I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. We have been so blessed in the life that I want to give as much as I can. Part of the way I can give is to leave knowledge for others, and so that it what I tried to do with the book.
I chose to self-publish, after reading the pain/struggle of others trying to find an agent.
I’m glad that I published it, his family has been so grateful, and I’ve gotten many compliments on it, it’s been humbling.
For aspiring writers, you have to know your “why.” Why are you writing the book? It’s an exhaustive experience and if you don’t have a strong enough why, you’ll procrastinate and quit. Don’t get frustrated that you find grammar errors after grammar errors after spelling mistakes. Once you’ve read your book 100 times, you don’t see that stuff anymore. You can use 99designs to hold a contest on cover designs and it’ll cost you about $700. Once you get it on Amazon you can get print copies for about $3/book. I used another printing service that cost about $7/book. Build an email list of your tribe before it’s ready so you can email out a courtesy copy once it’s finished. Identify the podcasts, magazines, associations, and other that are connected to your content, and give the book away there too. It’ll get you some speaking opportunities and that will generate book sales.
--Timothy D. Christ, LinkedIn profile
Author of Becoming a World-Class Expert: The Business of Forensic Engineering
I originally wrote my first book to share with a writing friend, my bestie. She enjoyed it and I left it at that. A decade later, at home on my first maternity leave, I saw publishing commercials and began to wonder what it would be like to have my book be a 'real' book. (ie, in my hand, on a shelf, etc)
My wonderful husband encouraged me to try and I ended up getting that old book back out and publishing it. Watching my baby grow so fast woke me up to how fast life is going. I did not want to be filled with regret later on in life with manuscripts that never got fully 'born' as book babies.
I'm SO glad he pushed me to try because I've now encountered writers world-wide who share my passion to create. I've entertained readers world-wide with a story I never thought was good enough. It IS good enough. I AM good enough! It has been just as much a journey of self-realization and self-empowerment as it has been a journey to birth a book baby.
My advice to aspiring authors is DO IT. Do it NOW. In the blink of an eye, you will be in bed tonight and today will be over. We will not live forever. But that inner world that only we know inside our mind CAN live forever on the pages of a book. It can be passed down to loved ones, it can entertain strangers and even comfort those we will never meet. It will carry your message, your spirit. You can keep your ultimate essence going by translating that inner world into this tangible product.
--Carrie Aulenbacher, carrieaulenbacher.com
Author of The Early Bird Cafe
After I retired from the US Air Force, I spent a couple of years mostly sitting around and reading, to recover from the stress. One day, I was reading a military romance novel, and it was obvious the author had never spoken to a military member or bothered to look up basic facts about the military. I thought: I can do better than this!
News Flash--I couldn't. Not at first. I wrote a total of eight romance novels before I wrote Lightwave: Clocker, Folding Space Series 1.0. I sent my novel off to several agents, but I grew impatient with the process and I knew I'd be writing faster than a traditional publishing schedule. So I studied self-publishing, particularly the Facebook group 20Booksto50K, and published that first book under my own imprint, Lightwave Publishing LLC.
Even though I haven't made a profit yet, I'm on my way, and I'm much happier having complete control over the process. For one, being my own boss means I can put everything on hold to participate in my other passion, leading Team Rubicon disaster relief operations. I spent almost all of March and April doing that instead of writing and advertising; I'm thrilled to make a small difference in the fight against COVID-19 and not worry about breaking deadlines.
For other authors, the first thing I'd recommend is to write a lot before you publish. One, you'll become a better writer. But equally important, you'll be able to publish several books in a row, and the more books you have out, the easier it is to get noticed. That's true for traditional and independent publishing. I wrote three novels in my series before I published the first one, but I really wish I'd waited until I'd completed the series of seven, and the (free!) prequel novella. I would have finished them faster, and my attention wouldn't have been split between writing and marketing. I also recommend participating in the writing hashtag games on Twitter to tighten your prose, and joining several Facebook groups for marketing, including 20Booksto50K, and genre-specific groups on all social media platforms.
--Anne Marie, amscottwrites.com
Author of Lightwave: Longshot (among others)
I'm an unwilling author who was requested by my students (I was a professor at a private university at the time) to write a textbook. The textbook never happened but the classes I was teaching on financial freedom turned out to be my Master's Thesis. My students kept asking for copies of my thesis to read. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I haven't! I self-published the book in 2005 it was called vanity publishing back then and I had to learn how to market and promote myself in ways I could never have imagined while keeping the financial message authentic.
Since then, I've published 6 more books and am writing a 7th this month.
Yes, I'm glad I did it. I've watched the publishing industry get turned on its ear and now information is flowing more freely for teachers & authors like myself.
Advice for aspiring authors? Just write the book already! Don't worry about what others will think, write your own story. There are people who really need to read what you want to write. There is a reader who will be inspired by your work. You need to get those ideas out of your head and onto a readable platform. Today!
--Janine Bolon, The8Gates, LLC
Author of Money...It's Not Just for Rich People! (among others)
The first step in self-publishing a book is writing something with a clear focus and expertise. The narrower the topic, the better.
When I released my first book, PODCASTNOMICS: The Book Of Podcasting… To Make You Millions, I was disappointed with initial sales. I did a couple of Reddit AMAs, was interviewed by some small print and broadcast media, and used social media to spread the word. My book still couldn’t crack 100 books sold.
Fortunately, I found a targeted blog geared towards podcasters, contacted the administrator, and asked him if I could advertise to his mailing list for nearly $300. He said very few people contacted him to advertise and that he never even thought of accepting advertising.
He agreed to my request and sent an e-mail out on my behalf to his list. He teased my book and recommended it as required reading for all podcasters.
Within 24 hours, I sold more than 90 copies of the book, and later that week, it climbed all the way to #1 in its primary category on Amazon’s bestseller list. I recouped my advertising expense with that one quick and simple send.
And because it rose the charts, Amazon then started pushing my book out because they thought it would sell well moving forward… and it has.
Books are still the fundamental building blocks to education. When we’re little, our parents and teachers make us read. As we get older, the reading becomes copious thanks to textbooks.
Here’s what writing a book can do for you:
People still judge books by their front covers, so seeing your name and book on major platforms like Amazon, iTunes and iBooks builds enormous credibility. People may not buy or read the book, but they will forever place you positively and authoritatively.
Over the long haul, this is great for your brand. You can leverage your brand to get you more business through speaking, consulting, new business opportunities, and more.
2. Establishes You As A Thought Leader
Books carry knowledge, and knowledge gives us power. So, the people who write books not only have knowledge, but perception views them as powerful figures… not just in their field, but also in society as a whole. Noble authors command a lot of respect from the public because of the emphasis on education worldwide.
Outside of becoming a powerful and respectable authority figure, authors can funnel in readers as leads to their businesses. If you offer something of value to anyone, they will reciprocate and give you value back. It’s one of the unwritten laws of human nature and karma.
4. Pass-Along Effect
The greatness of books is that they don’t disappear. Some of the great classics we read in high school have survived over the course of centuries. So even if your book doesn’t receive good reviews or sell any copies today, it can still become a hit 20 or 200 years down the road. If you’re alive to see this, great. If not, then your lineage can reap the benefits… or, if you leave a business behind, then it can benefit.
--Naresh Vissa, krishmediamarketing.com
Author of Podcastnomics: The Book of Podcasting... to Make You Millions (among others)
Writing a book can be a multi-tasking labor of love, necessity, or ambition, to name a few motivations. My mindful living book started as a legacy book for my daughter after I had a health scare, but I continued writing in order to satisfy my own need to share the results of my dive into deconstructing happiness. As a Professional Life & Divorce Coach and Speaker, the book also became an effective business card and indispensable tool I used in my work.
I debated self-publishing versus traditional publishing. After considering my goals and budget, interviewing other authors and publishers multiple times, and consulting my website designer, I decided on a small traditional publishing house. Not only could it offer more marketing exposure and technical support than going it alone, it allowed me to retain a large amount of the book royalties, which a larger publisher does not.
As a new author, this is one of the best decisions I made. After finishing a book, there are still many steps including book design and formatting, printing, categorizing, publishing, launching, and marketing. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed to the point I dropped the project or neglected my other work and responsibilities, so I’m glad I sought outside help. I continued to educate myself, ask questions and negotiate prices, but having professional guidance allowed me to lean into the process and have more fun with it.
My advice to aspiring authors is the same thing passed to me in a writing course: recognize there is an art, craft, science and business of writing and selling your book. Breaking up the project into manageable chunks makes it easier. The most critical part is getting started. Write about what you want to share or learn more about.
--Vindy Teja, vindyteja.com
Author of YOLO: Essential Life Hacks for Happiness (among others)
In 2014 I had Gastric Sleeve surgery after battling obesity my entire life. At 350lbs, I wanted to document my journey to keep track of my progress, emotions and have a reminder of what I went through in the event this time it actually worked.
I blogged about my journey and would share it with people. My husband said I should consider writing a book because people would resonate with my story and I might inspire others with my journey. For years I would say, “you know I really should write a book.” Finally last year he said “stop talking about it and just do it already.” So right then and there, I went and sat at the computer and once the first sentence was written, it poured out of me for 5 days straight. It was time for it to be written.
From there, I was suggested to go to Upwork to find freelancers for editing, layout and cover designs. I pooled every last bit of money I scraped together and got it all done. I chose to self publish through Amazon because the author copies were inexpensive and the publishing fee was practically nothing, which is all I could afford. I started writing it in June and 3 months later I had the finished copy in my hand.
Since I published, I have received amazing feedback on how my story inspired people to kick start their own journeys. They appreciated that I was honest and raw about the real experiences they don’t always talk about and loved they they both laughed and cried while reading it.
It can be very uncomfortable to write a story about your life that can be open to brutal criticism and judgement and at the same time very humbling when people seem grateful for your courage to be so open with your story.
My advice to anyone thinking of writing a book is do it. Tell your story whether it’s fictional or nonfictional. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you because there will always be someone there who resonates with it and helps them in some way. Write it because if nothing else, it’s therapeutic for yourself and can be healing and if you decide not to publish it, that’s okay too but you won’t know until you do it.
--Sheri Arcuria, sheriarcuria.com
Author of Unzipped
Superheroes exist beyond movies and comic books. The American public has seen healthcare heroes in action, saving lives in the wake of COVID-19. We are pharmacists in the healthcare field and wanted to share what we do and help as many people as we can. We participated in many career panels and career days at schools and served as mentors to many students over the years. There were always many questions and a limited amount of time. We wanted to share our knowledge and empower others to find their true passion. So, we decided to put together a book of real stories from healthcare professionals in their different fields. It is like an expert career panel for youth so they can understand what a day looks like for these healthcare professionals.
Our book, Healthcare Heroes: The Medical Careers Guide, has insights into different careers that people might not have heard of like music therapy, surgical technologist, pharmacy technician, and even STEM careers like a biomedical engineer. There's really something in there for everyone. Inspiring and educating others is why we wrote this book and it has been so nice to hear from our readers on how the book changed their lives and had an impact on their career choice. Like most authors, we submitted our book proposal to different publishers. Although we had a major publisher interested in the project, we chose to go with an independent academic press, because we felt it was the best fit for us.
Our biggest tip for aspiring authors is to never give up. There will be rejections along the way. Stay positive and you will find the right people who believe in your idea. Other tips include joining writing groups that meet in person/virtually where you can discuss ideas. Network with others in your circle of writing interests or join writing groups/professional societies to network. If you are in the medical field, one of the writing groups is the American Medical Writers Association. You have that great idea, but you will need to search around to see if your idea has already been published. You can look online, in major bookstores, or their websites. If it already exists, competition is good; if there is something similar maybe you can add a special twist to make yours different. Maybe it is a brand new idea, in that case...go for it.
--Mary Choy, Michele B. Kaufman, healthcareheroesbook.com
Authors of Healthcare Heroes: The Medical Careers Guide
Becoming a published author was an unusual journey for me. At the beginning of September 2018, my parents’ dog Toby died. I was his primary caregiver, and he died alone with me in my room. I grieved his loss in three weeks. The dog in my life before him, Farley, was a different story. He had died almost six years before this, and I was still dealing with what I thought was grief for him.
I needed to understand why I grieved the loss of each differently, so I decided to write a book about pet loss. This led me to research about dying, death, pet loss, the grieving process, and bereavement models. During this time, I experienced some severe health problems and was eventually diagnosed with dementia caregiver burnout. Later, my doctor convinced me to take a medical leave of absence from work due to cognitive losses caused by prolonged stress.
For years, I’d been receiving a weekly newsletter from the publisher I had planned to use. On the morning of October 24, 2019, I was up early and read their trivia question. I remembered the answer from the previous week’s newsletter and sent my answer via email. When I checked my emails later, I learned that I was the first person to answer the question correctly, and I had won a free book publishing package.
To claim the prize, I needed to submit a manuscript within a month. I was still in the research phase of the book I intended to write and I didn’t have a manuscript. I had never written a book before. At first, I thought it would not be possible. And then I thought, what have I got to lose. I decided to put the first book on hold and write a new book from scratch.
The first two weeks were difficult because I was still experiencing some cognitive deficits. I persisted and was unhappy with what I wrote. And then it happened. The ideas, words, and phrases started to flow and connect in my mind. I wrote my first book in two weeks and submitted it to my publisher. I nervously waited to hear back from them.
I had no idea if what I wrote was up to their standards. Three days later, I received a message that my manuscript looked beautiful and they would love to publish my first book. I won the book publishing package on October 24th, submitted my manuscript on November 23rd, and was officially a published author on December 25th.
Knowing myself as I do, I would have procrastinated with writing a book. I lacked self-confidence in my writing skills, and I would have talked myself out of it. I was definitely out of my comfort zone. Fortunately, the publisher and her staff were wonderful. They walked me through the entire publishing process. They were patient, supportive, and answered my questions. Publishing my first book was a positive and rewarding experience. I look forward to publishing my next book with them.
The advice I would give to aspiring writers is to just do it. Take the risk. What have you got to lose? Write because you need to write. If it feels like there’s a pressure inside you that is released when you put your words on paper, then you need to write.
--Debra J. Bilton, Two Dogs, Two Griefs
Author of Two Dogs, Two Griefs
I wrote a book because I was concerned about some specific social issues and the amount of biased information out there about recent American Presidents. The book presents presidents Wilson through Obama with a view toward their management ability and ethics. The book took four years to write and a year in publishing/post production.
I am a professor and an attorney, so I used both backgrounds to put together a book that is carefully researched, but easy to read. Using connections with other authors, I was able to connect with a publishing agent and she helped me land a contract with Post Hill Press. Post Hill is a small publisher that focuses on non-fiction. The deal is that they produce the book, then put it on Amazon. It is my responsibility to get it sold. That is a tall order in the crowded book business.
Yes, I am glad that I wrote the book. However, I wish I had more promotion help earlier in the game. The book was published in February 2018. I have sold a reasonable number of copies, so I am “in the black” with my publisher. Sales have not been where I would like to see them. In early 2020, I began working with perceptivepublicrelations.com, a firm that works with authors. It takes time to get the momentum going again. Covid-19 has not made that process any easier.
In addition to trying to get some more sales for my book, I am working on two additional books now. Authors need to understand that it is not enough for most of us to create a book, we need to make sure that someone reads it.
--David Schein, LinkedIn profile
Author of The Decline of America: 100 Years of Leadership Failures
I consider myself a hybrid author. I've published in the indie scene, and also had book contracts with two different publishers. When I wrote and completed my steamy romantic comedy, I knew I'd need to publish it on my own. Not only would it be sexier content than I usually covered (not that I'm a prude either), but I was also approaching a more sensitive topic. BBW (Big Beautiful Woman) or curvy romance has become popular in the past several years or so, but my approach was emotional as well. Having experienced weight issues my whole life, I knew how difficult it was for the main character. I wanted to promote body positivity, yet also retain authenticity. Plus, with the sixth book in the series, I'll have a lesbian couple for the romance in the story. I wanted to ease readers who were used to my more traditional romances into the possibility of it coming up eventually, since the main character is mentioned in book one.
I purchased the book cover early on from Lisa at LDM Graphics, so I would be prepared. Chasing Ginger went through critique partners, beta readers, proofreaders, and my own edits. Just before I publish any book, I go back over my character worksheets to see if I missed anything, if perhaps readers should know a specific detail to understand the protagonist better. I uploaded to Amazon KDP (ebook and print versions), then used Smashwords for wider distribution to Barnes & Noble and such.
Writing a book is hard enough. But publishing one is a different animal. You're never warned about the process of marketing the book, or how long it takes to reach out to potential book reviewers. My advice? Have a definite book launch plan ready, and do your best to build your author brand. Implement each step at the right time. Some reviewers prefer you to submit an ARC (advanced review copy) at least three months before the book release. Be open to doing interviews and features on blogs, and getting interviewed by podcast hosts. Jump at opportunities to help spread the word about your book, but also remain wary of costly ventures. Some are scams. In most cases, you'll have to do a lot of the work yourself, unless you're hiring a true publicist. Do your homework before investing anything, and I wouldn't recommend paying for book reviews at all. People will only trust the most organic, honest opinions about your book.
Once that book is in someone else's hands, you've gotta stop obsessing about what you might've done wrong and if anyone will like your work. Your book has grown up and is ready to go out into the world for others to appreciate it. And if you get a not so great book review now and then, it's just one opinion. As long as you acknowledge you did your best, that you dug deep and poured your heart into your project, you won't need any other validation. But book awards and other author accolades will never hurt your career either.
If you're new at writing and publishing, polish your work thoroughly first. You can start building your author platform in between edits, or while you're waiting for feedback from a critique partner. It's better to try it now rather than doing everything at the last minute. Then you'll risk burnout, as you will feel too overwhelmed to do all that needs to get accomplished.
Just jump in...write the story that calls to you the most. From there, you can take the next steps.
--Marie Lavender, marielavender.com
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