Becoming a Bestselling Author is Hard Work!


Ready to write your first book?

More power to you.

Ready to live in luxury from the royalties?

Time for a reality check.

I won’t waste space with a lot of statistics on how hard it really is to make money writing. That approach is not only boring and negative, it’s futile.

Everyone who conceives the perfect book expects to be the exception to the rule, the one whose genius is immediately recognized and rewarded.

Actually, the apparent “exceptions” are those writers who mix plenty of hard work with their talent—from the beginning onward. No one ever creates a perfect first draft. Don’t take my word for it; ask authors who’ve been selling books for twenty years. And ask those successful authors how many editors rejected their early manuscripts; how many times they rewrote their first books after acceptance; and how much time they still spend sending out press releases and sitting at sparsely visited book-signing tables. No, the publisher won’t “take care of everything.” If a book’s own creator doesn’t care enough to work at popularizing it, why should anyone else?

If you’re not discouraged yet, that in itself is a sign you may have what it takes. There are many resources on the specifics involved (try and to start), but here are a few key points for key stages:

  • Idea: Research why the public (not just your immediate circle) would read this book.
  • Proposal: Read editorial guidelines! An amazing number of writers send fiction manuscripts to nonfiction publishers.
  • Writing/editing: Get the first draft down as quickly as you like, but edit the whole thing at least three times: once for consistency of details; once for smooth flow; and once for typo-free text.
  • Selling to the public: Send press releases to your local paper, the trade journals, your college’s alumni newsletter. Create a Web site and e-newsletter. Print business cards and bookmarks. Remember: even a published book won’t sell itself.

Unless you’re already famous, in which case thousands of people will buy a collection of breakfast-menu tweets if your name’s on the cover. But in that case, you wouldn’t have to bother reading “how-to” blogs.

Katherine Swarts
Spread the Word Commercial Writing
“Anything Worth Writing Is Worth Writing Right”