The Hidden Corners and Twists of the Writing Life

by Tricia

in Author Blogger, Community, Influence

(via Mikael Miettinen)

I know that many people reading this blog will wonder about my own experience writing and marketing books. I’ve written a variety of books (my most recent book was a kids picture book in 2007) and I was busiest in the 1990s writing several series of books that went out of print in the late 1990s after being featured in Target stores nationwide every year on Mother’s Day. Why they went out of print is a question I still don’t know the answer to.

The first series of books was a series of vellum-wrapped hardcover full-color coffee table gift books and one was entitled Mother. I also wrote the rest of the series: Father (never published), Sister, Friend, and Grandmother. I met the publisher through some conference I attended and shared with the editor some lines of verse that I wrote about my late grandmother. The editor was deeply moved. And so she offered me the Grandmother book and then came back with the rest of the series. It was like writing beautiful words about the people I loved the most. I really believe my first published books were from a deeper part of me. My late grandmother was like a second mother to me and I loved her very much. I still miss her guidance and laughter. Writing about my most precious memories of her touched something in me that also touched others.

Isn’t that what a book should be about? Not about how many people follow you on Twitter or how many people subscribe to your newsletter. Even for the professional books, as I know there are a lot of business book writers and journalists here, even when we write about retirement benefits, what touches people the most is when you meet a core need—an emotional benefit—you make them feel as if you understand exactly where they are coming from.

I guess that’s my first thing that I look for when I work with writers (who write business books, spiritual books, novels, and books about gardening; I also work with a lot of academic authors who write college textbooks, but they are not likely to be visiting here): I want to see if there is a passion (for lack of a better word) about what they are doing. I want to see if they are so sure that their message is important that they will work to get it out to an audience in a manner that may or may not include a print book deal.

I admit it; I cringe when a writer only wants to be published. I just don’t like that sort of personality. It frustrates me to no end. I often will try to encourage that writer to quit chasing the print book deal and find out what they really want. Really, a writer seeks to communicate a message in such a way that they change someone’s life. And that doesn’t have to include a print book.

But if you’re here, you’re likely already very interested in pursuing publication. You’ve probably started a blog or are thinking about starting a blog. You may even be an author with a book already out and you’re seeking information on how to build the online presence that is now seen as necessary to a successful author career and book launch. You’re in the right place.

The second thing I think I have learned since my first publishing efforts is that it never works out quite how you think it will. I hand-sold my first book proposal at the age of 23 to an editor at Harvest House Publishers (Christian publisher) without an agent. I was so young. I just got this idea and had someone who could get the proposal to the right person (I was copyediting and proofreading for Harvest House at the time) and she loved it! (This sort of success is highly unusual.) But then the proposal didn’t get past the editorial board. I was so disappointed.

Authors have got to be willing to go through a lot of twists and turns. Just as I think there are no more hidden corners, one shows up for me. I’ve been in this business working with authors for 16 years and a hidden corner showed up a few weeks ago. You live and learn. This is why I started Author Blogger. It helps to read about other authors who have their own stories to tell. I think we’ll learn a lot from them. I’ve got an exciting bunch of folks just in April and May for you to meet and learn from.

And my third thing I have learned is that I can’t do the writing and publishing career myself, if I wanted to do this writing career thing correctly. I now know that I need a team of people to help me navigate the publishing world. This includes an agent (discussions on this coming up), a critique group (discussion on this coming up), and a sort of business/writing coach (and discussions on this coming up as well). I need my team. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it helps me to take it more seriously. I find that when I have a critique group waiting for a chapter of my book every week or an agent waiting on a proposal, I’m more likely to get it done. And I’m very deadline-oriented. I could do it myself. But I’d rather not. And we’ll talk more about how writers use social media to find that team and support and how authors can get a lot of their best ideas direct from their audience. Crowd-sourcing you say? Why yes!

So, where am I now? I have a book with my current agent, am working on a few more ideas to spread around, am talking constantly to people I meet about coming on this blog to talk about their experiences, and finally am accepting students for a social media strategy class. Exciting! If you want more info or want to ensure you don’t miss anything, I do have a newsletter coming. Stay tuned!

Previous post:

Next post: