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The Reality of Writing a Book – #TypeACon 2013 Liveblog

Another great session this afternoon is being led by Melissa Culbertson and Jill Smokler: The Reality of Writing a Book. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, as I’ve finished writing the first draft of my first novel…and I know I’m still not done writing. So I’m very excited to see what Jill and Melissa have to say.

The Reality of Writing a Book. Speakers: Melissa Culbertson and Jill Smokler.

Writing a book can be a great experience, but the process is nothing like what you might think it would be. This could be a “dream slashing” session, says Jill. She started her blog when her child was an infant, as many of us have done. Then she wrote a piece for CNN.com (for free) and a literary agent convinced her that she should write a book, thinking of chapters as longer blog posts. It doesn’t normally happen the way it happened for her, though.

Melissa’s story stems from last year’s Type-A Conference when she presented about Blog Design. (I liveblogged that Blog Design session, too.) She connected with someone from Wiley and ended up writing Blog Design for Dummies.

One Does Not Simply Write a Book

Picture Sean Bean here. Both women said it was just like pregnancy, even taking nine months from signing the book deal to actually getting published. There’s a Ryan Gosling picture on another slide, too. Wish I could just grab those here!

The Good

  • Leaving a legacy. You will ALWAYS be a published author, even when your book goes out of print.
  • Fun side of promotions – being on TV, meeting people on book tours, etc.
  • Working with a publishing house. You don’t have to figure everything out for yourself, like you do when self-publishing an eBook, etc.
  • Gaining new knowledge.
  • Confession: Most of the good stuff comes AFTERWARD.

The Bad

You keep using the word “royalties.” I don’t think it means what you think it means. (Picture Inigo Montoya here.) The majority of books never earn up to their advance.

  • You won’t get rich writing a book. Royalties only get paid every six months, if you ever get any at all.
  • Blogging is instant gratification: you write, you publish, you get a response. Writing a book takes months, and it takes longer before it comes out, and longer before you get feedback.
  • Your relationship with your editor may vary. Creative differences can be a bone of contention.
  • Self-doubt can be killer. There is a lot of extra pressure to create this amazing thing because other people are depending on you.

The Ugly

“Oh, you have a life? Tell me what that’s like.” (Picture Gene Wilder here.)

  • Deadlines: Timelines for publication are tight, and while some deadlines can be negotiated, writing a book is an every day commitment until it is completely done and dusted.
  • Business: Some things are out of your control. Publishing contracts can go terribly wrong, and it has nothing to do with you.
  • Marketing: They’re counting on YOU. The publishing houses want to do as little work as possible. They will expect you to have a platform and a large social media presence so that you will sell your book, and they won’t have to sell your book for you. All they care about is money and sales.
  • Obsessing: Rankings and comparing yourself to others.

Your priorities have to change while you’re writing a book. You will have to turn things down. Your friends and family may find you bitchy, and they may feel resentment.

Good, Bad, and Ugly? ALL THREE

  • Editing process: crying about it, learning from it
  • Book take two: redoing the entire book, but liking it better.

Be Your Own Biggest Advocate. Always!

Nobody – NOBODY – cares as much about your book as you do. To your publisher, you are only one of many titles they are working on. Even your spouse cares about your book because they care about you, but it’s still not the biggest thing in their world. Know what you want to fight for when it comes to marketing or things that should be included or cut or…whatever.

Christina Gleason (819 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead. I have started writing no fewer than five novels, and I hope to finish one of them...eventually.


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