Book Review #1 — Publishing 101: A First-Time Author’s Guide to Getting Published
Reading this book forced me to review why I was writing and why I wanted to publish. I now have a much more focused plan and I know why I’m pursuing all of this.
I found Ms. Friedman while I was working on my manuscript and searching for advice about copyright issues. The article I found led me to her website where I reviewed the services she offered. When I completed the first draft of my book I decided to read her book before I setup an appointment to discuss my project with her. I’m very glad I did. I wrote several technical books many years ago which gave me some experience with traditional publishing, but I knew I had no clue what the options were for self publishing. I also wanted advice on the choice to pursue traditional versus self publishing. I’m very glad I read her book before I talked with her. I got many of my questions answered from her book which made my time talking with her much more valuable.
In thinking about how best to describe why I would recommend this book, I came up with three words: relevance, brevity and clarity. This book describes what you need to understand about the way the publishing world works today, whether that lines up with your romantic visions or not. The information is very relevant to someone like me that is working on getting published for the first time in a very long time. Ms. Friedman doesn’t waste time with lots of talk, the information is delivered quickly and she makes it easy to understand. She is also very clear about what you need to know and what you need to do. If you want someone to help you prepare to really get something published, you should read this book.
I want to be clear that not all of what I read was what I wanted to hear. Some of Ms. Friedman’s most specific advice required that I carefully review why I was writing and what I was trying to accomplish. I was very excited to have finished my first draft of my manuscript and I wanted to know what I needed to do next to get published. Instead, after reading this book, I realized I was not at all prepared for publishing. I needed to rethink my entire project. I also needed to create a website, something that was not at all part of my plan. You can’t get 120,000 words together without caring about your project, so it was upsetting to read that I had to take on another project to setup a website. But it was what I really needed to hear, and what I needed to do next.
Here are some specific topics discussed that were useful to me, things that I encourage you to think about:
Writing is not for the weak. Indeed, any creative project, especially if it will be put in front of the public, requires a strong will.
Your motivation to write has to come from within. Yes, very much so. You have to want to do this, there are too many obstacles and too few rewards to getting your work published, and you have to believe in your work.
What do you really want out of this process? If you don’t know what you are after, how will you know if you ever get it?
Passion has become a cheap word. This is my favorite, so many people are pursuing their passion, but do they ever really get anything done, or is it really a codeword for wanting to do what you want when you want until it gets difficult?
Why are you in a rush? No one is waiting for my writing project to be published. This isn’t me being defeatist or my lacking passion, it is just a simple fact. Why not take the time to find persons that know more than I do about publishing in the digital world and learn what I need to do to really find and reach my audience?
Don’t focus on just one book. Another simple fact, whatever I’m writing may or may not have much of an audience, and endlessly working on it may not change that. Better to see this as a process, not to publish my current project, but a process to keep producing work I care about, a process to get my work to those that are interested.
Your platform should be as much of a creative exercise and project as the work you produce. Instead of looking at the need for a website, for example, as some sort of evil conspiracy forced on you by the corrupt publishing world, why not see it as another outlet for your creativity, your vision?
Come up with a marketing plan that you can execute on your own. You, as the author, are the best person to find your audience, don’t rely on a publisher to do this for you.
Specific advice on marketing, along with this important observation, “so few authors do any of this”. Get your website established and get professional headshots to use in all your online and offline marketing efforts.
I also recommend what she says in her Afterword, that at some point, we have to do what we do because we want to, not just to get published. It is easy to get lost in all the noise that surrounds any form of media. You can find all my book reviews at brianhitchcock.net and brianrhitchcock.com.