You can write, too
Duluth News Tribune-Online
After a year of prepping, editing, and designing my book, Doris Writes. And so can you! I thought the writing part of that project was behind me. I was so excited at the thought of putting it into print. After two weeks of submitting my finished manuscript to multiple publishers, I pulled the emergency brake. I am now back at the starting line and working through the process of redesigning and reediting.
This change of direction didn’t happen by my own accord. It was more as if it came from a spiritual guidance of sorts, combined with perfect timing, when I finally took my sister Shell’s advice and arranged for a phone consult with her niece-in-law, Allison Liddle. Allison is an entrepreneur, international keynote speaker, and 4-time best-selling author from Wausau, WI.
Shell suggested for years that Allison may be a good person for me to get in touch with. But, with my limited time for writing, and what I planned to do with my work unknown, I didn’t know how she could help me. With my book ready to launch, it made sense to finally speak with Allison, and get some guidance on the self-publishing process. She has had great success with her work, and I always like to work with the best. And my, how quickly I learned the value of having someone like her be a part of my journey.
I run a family daycare, so I arranged our meeting to take place at naptime. That morning, I pulled out my 3-section notebook that I use for my writing notes and jotted down some questions I had for her: Why self-publish? Who do you go through? Where do you advertise? How much does it cost to self-publish? I also scribbled a summary of my book’s properties: 278 pages, approximately 78,358 words.
Once the kiddos were sleeping, I got my things set up on the daycare table in the kitchen for the phone consult. I had my notebook opened to a blank page, two pens in case one decided to die, my laptop fired up, and a fresh cup of coffee on the side.
Writers, I’ve learned, are some of the most helpful people I’ve gotten to know. The meeting started with a brief overview of my project. I told Allison my original idea was to take my blog posts and enough of my published essays to create a 250-page book, which seemed to be the industry standard. To make some of the reading unique to those who have already read my work before, I added a chapter between each essay describing the learning process I had with each piece. “A lot of the writing was already done.” I started to chuckle because I knew what I was about to say made me look lazy. “So, my vision for the book was to assemble my blogs and a bunch of essays together. Make a book out of them. And get it published.”
“I know of someone who’s had great success with that!” Allison responded. Her enthusiasm was catchy as she went on to explain how this particular author managed to sell numerous books by using a similar method.
I hated to admit the main reason why I wanted to publish this book, but I figured I should tell her. I said, “My writing has been more of a hobby. I don’t get paid for the articles I get published, so my goal is to hopefully make a little money.” Boom. There it was, the lack of monetary reward for my hard work, which at that moment felt like I had my priorities skewed. I explained my reasoning, “Between the cost of my professional writing coach, my website, and the marketing of my work, it sure would be nice to earn a little bit of that money back.” I added, “If this book does well, I have plenty more essays and writing lessons to put together for another book!” I chuckled again. “Is it possible to make any money going the self-publishing route?”
Allison didn’t skip a beat, “Absolutely!”
Although this phone consult lasted a short thirty minutes, Allison fired off numerous names and contacts that she felt would be helpful in my pursuit. My brain struggled to keep up with the writing in my notebook, especially with the excitement rising with each subject we covered.
For the close of our meeting, we returned to my book and its possibilities. Allison came up with an idea that ultimately started the wheels of change. She suggested, based on my style of book, a writer’s resource, that mine may be too long. People who generally look for that sort of book, buy one with word count closer to 15,000–20,000. She suggested I may have possibly two books, maybe more, that I could create from that original manuscript. She said, “You could choose your first book to be on How to write an essay. The next one, How to write an article. And then, How to write poetry.”
As Allison spoke, her compassion for helping others write successfully stimulated my own desire to do so. I could feel new life breathed into my project, which at that point seemed a bit dull. I began to envision how my experiences could help others who wanted to learn how to write, which felt awesome.
Allison talked a bit about pricing as well. My original copy of 250 pages would have been priced around $29.95. With this new plan, a series of books, each approximately 40 pages, would provide better value to the reader for the price of $8.99. In theory, my book could become a series, which would be any author’s dream come true.
Going into this project, I just wanted to make a book. I wanted easy. Instead, I’ve got some real work ahead of me, which I’m excited to do. Instead of going with the traditional publishing route, having someone else manage my book’s timeline and profits, I’m now leaning towards self-publishing.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, a writer doesn’t just write. A writer dreams, adapts, and connects with people while creating a story that they hope will find a reader who loves it. If the thought of that makes your heart race, maybe you should write too!