All budding writers dream of the day they can proudly announce to the world they are now an ‘author.’ Well, after 20 years, I can finally say it. However, I wish someone had told me just how much work I was letting myself in for. Phew, is all I can say.
I have been writing about business and economics since the early 80s. I minored in school, which gave me a leg up in getting things right when there was enough work for business journalists. I’ve almost snagged a book contract so many times, I lost track. The biggest part of any deal for non-fiction is a viable marketing plan, which most publishers expect you to conjure up in your book proposal. This has been a part of the traditional publishers’ requirements in non-fiction genres for years. It’s not an easy feat.
My work has been getting more attention since my website was launched. I started seeking out publishers on linkedin.com in hopes of snagging a smaller one. I chatted with two small publishers and one agent. None of them thought a collection of the essays would make it and wanted a complete book outline, etc. It went nowhere.
Then, I met my future publisher. He initially ran an ad seeking articles. I emailed him and got an immediate answer. He wanted samples. Then, we talked on the phone. “What do you want (dollar amount)?” I named a price and he paid immediately via paypal for his immediately needs, and even paid up front for another batch.
Every time we chatted, he kept asking if I was interested in doing a book. After the third time, I told him my story of past attempts to get my essays published. “Don’t worry. I take care of the marketing.” He hired professional newscasters to read my articles, making them sound as if they were a news story. He would post the videos on YouTube.com. Before we sealed the deal, I threw out the fact that I don’t do anything without upfront money. “What do you want?” I only managed to get $800. However, I knew he’d never paid upfront money to another writer. I got a contract with the $800 advance plus royalties, the right to see their bookkeeping and the need for renewal after a year. This gives a new twist to the traditional.
My book is a collection of 101 essays. I already had 50 written. I had to go back over the first 50 for updating and another proofreading.
I had to come up with topics for the remaining 51 essays. I went off to the bookstore for inspiration. About two weeks into in, I realized that my topics were overlapping and I would still need another 15 ideas (much hair pulling and biting of finger nails!).
I finally turned in the manuscript, and sighed very loudly. I had a month’s rest and the manuscript was then back in front of me. Proofreading the final manuscript again was part of the contract. When I saw that in the contract, I figured I’d deal with it when the time came. Who knew I would get it back while in the middle getting ready to move?
My original manuscript was 231 pages. It was sent back in a font that would have made me blind by the time I finished. I increased the font two points. It was now 340 pages. Oh yeah, don’t for a minute think you can bring any of your fellow writers into this. All of my writing friends just laughed. They don’t like proofreading any more than me. No work is more difficult for a writer than being responsible for the spacing of every word, period and comma in a body of work.
Going through the process of getting a book contract, writing the book, and getting it ready publication is the hardest work I’ve ever done. Hopefully, I will make it through to, golly gee, BOOK SIGNINGS. Someone might want to interview me instead of the other way around.
Laura Bell has been a published writer since 1979. She has 400 bylines to her name. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Business Journal, the Orange County Business Journal, Sheknows.com, savvygrirl.com and Small Business Opportunities, just to name a few. You can visit her online at: http://www.bellbusinessreport.com.