We have all heard that there is a potential book within each one of us, just waiting to be written. But, what about the book that you have ALREADY written? That book could be hiding in your hard drive, ready to be copied and pasted into a folder of its own.
Consider the documents stored in your computer. Can you think of a common thread connecting some of them? Would it make a salable book? Writers sell compilations all the time. I have seen anything from essays on world travel to housecleaning. Why not rehash some of your previously published material to cash in on a book?
Several years ago, I began writing a series of articles for a Christian-education magazine. Each piece discussed a different aspect of writing so I decided to find out if there would be interest in a compilation. And, yes, a publisher agreed that it would make a salable book.
Perhaps you wonder if your pieces are too diverse to work as a book. Let’s say that you wrote about a jaunt to Moncton’s Magnetic Hill, an excursion to Newfoundland, and a day trip to the Anne of Green Gables farmhouse on Prince Edward Island. Could you compile a book about family fun in Atlantic Canada? Or, maybe you wrote about the benefits of taking a daily walk, losing weight by cutting calories, and exercising to prevent back pain. How about a book on fitness for the deskbound?
Of course, some topics really are too dissimilar to work together. I once considered slipping an essay on learning a second language into a book about writing. But I finally had to admit that the piece just didn’t fit. Another challenge with a compilation is that not all publishers will want to buy reprints, especially if they have been widely circulated among potential book buyers. And, you may be offered a reduced royalty for a compilation. But there ARE publishers who will recognize the value that a collection offers the reader, and they will give you a fair piece of the pie.
You may also find success by self-publishing your material – especially if you are a savvy marketer. Whichever route you choose, never give up on a good idea until you have given it your all.
Keep thinking up ways to resell your work. Over the years, I have written numerous children’s stories for the Christian market. Recently, it occurred to me that they might make a salable book. I copied and pasted stories into a new folder, arranged the table of contents, and tinkered with each piece.
Remember that, when you work with individual pieces, you must also view them as a whole. It’s not that you necessarily have to connect the articles. You do, however, have to consider how they will read in book form. For instance, with my story collection, I noticed that some of the characters in the various pieces shared the same name. I am apparently fond of the names Emily, Richard, and Wilma Jean. Although that’s not necessarily wrong, I felt that each story should contain different names since the characters were supposed to be unique.
Besides viewing the book as a whole, you will sometimes need to do extra work to complete your book. With my writing compilation, I added a unifying preface and two original chapters. You may need to change the angle of the material and/or you may need to broaden the scope. But compiling previously published essays into a book is often much easier than writing one from scratch. So, search your hard drive today and see if you can cash in on a book!
Christine Laws lives in Amity, Maine, a couple of miles from Atlantic Canada. She recently submitted her story compilation to a publisher. You can read the first chapter of her compilation for Christian writers at: https://www.clp.org/product/fresh_and_fruitful_cultivating_the_art_of_writing_3001