Nicolas Gremion

Don’t Shut The Book On Writing One: Advice For Would-Be Authors

To the dismay of many, we live in a society where Nicole Richie is a New York Times bestselling author. We live in a world where Flava Flav has published a book. Hell, this is a place where even Snooki from MTV’s “Jersey Shore” has books on the market.

I’m here to affirm what we’ve all been thinking: Today, anyone can write a book. We also live in a world where anyone can sing — but that doesn’t mean everyone should (publicly, at least). The same can be said for publishing.

That said, both singing and writing are skills that can be honed. There are always going to be those with natural talent, but that’s no reason to be discouraged. For every lucky author whose book becomes a bestseller overnight a la “Twilight,” there’s a plethora of talented writers who struggle for years before they get their break.

Taking It Online

The Internet opens the door to writers who might’ve never had the chance to get published elsewhere. But sometimes, you have to remember that there is a real reason they can’t get published.

Due to traditional publishing industries’ inefficiencies (aka high costs to print and marketing), they need to be sure they can sell lots of each book they take to print. For instance, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that distributing “The Mating Rituals of Fruit Flies” might not be on the top of a publisher’s agenda. This niche book might find itself a home in an eLibrary, though, as there are no printing costs.

But let’s be frank: Most of the time, a book can’t get published because the book is a piece of junk. On the Internet, there’s no publisher to dispose of junk. At the end of the day, it’s the people – and not the big publishers – who dictate what’s worth reading. Through comments, rating systems, and the like, the public serves as the critics of the eBook library. Many eBook websites offer “top book” lists that the general population has rated most highly.

Get Noticed

Of course, there are always a few ways to sink to the bottom of the list. With the vast number of choices readers have in the world of eBooks, here are a few tips to make sure yours isn’t overlooked:

  • Title and synopsis: It always amazes me how some writers ignore their titles and synopses. You’ve spent years writing your book — you’re telling me you can’t spend five minutes putting together a coherent, compelling synopsis to describe your book? The title draws in the eye; the synopsis should hold its attention. You might have a great book, but you need inspire people to read it.
  • Editing: For the love of God, please get your book edited. I don’t care if you have to shovel your old English teacher’s driveway all winter — find a way to get it edited. There’s no easier way to turn off a reader than through spelling and grammatical errors.
  • The cover: “Never judge a book by its cover” might perhaps be the most-ignored bit of advice of our time. There’s no denying that a book has “stop power” if it looks attractive and professional. That doesn’t stop at the cover, however. It’s equally imperative that everything in between the covers looks nice as well. Maybe you’ve written the next version of “The Hunger Games,” but if it looks like a bum wrote it, no one will stop and read it.

Yes, You Can Be an Author

Not everyone is going to land a deal with a traditional publisher. But you can publish an eBook, and there are five qualities I’ve noticed among successful authors: 

  1. Passion: Whether you’re writing about Japanese gardens or space-traveling aliens, your readers will know whether you’re truly passionate about your topic.
  2. Patience: Like I said earlier, success doesn’t come easily. It takes time. On that same note, writing a book takes time. Just like great Bolognese sauce, a great book shouldn’t be rushed.
  3. Thick skin: Even “The Great Gatsby” has its critics. If you can’t handle (and hopefully improve with) even a little criticism, don’t bother entering this industry.
  4. Marketing drive: Unless you’re backed by a large publisher (which we typically aren’t when we write our first book), writing the book itself isn’t the finish line. Chances are high that you’re going to need to do a lot of self-promotion.
  5. Perseverance: The first Harry Potter book was rejected nine times. “Gone with the Wind” was turned downby 38 publishers. If you are confident in your book, don’t abandon it.

Writing, much like singing and painting, is a hobby — but it can also be a profession. Stick with the tips I’ve given you, and you might just find yourself among the likes of Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson (and William Shakespeare and J.K. Rowling, too, I guess).

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