Several years ago, in a national survey, it was discovered that 82% of Americans say they plan to write a book someday. What's really fascinating (and funny) about this is that less than 15% of Americans ever buy a book during the course of a year. For years I have wondered why so many people have "writing a book" on their big list of things to accomplish? Some would say they want to be rich (your odds of getting rich from being an author are right up there with winning the lottery). Some say they want to be famous (actually more doable than getting rich).
Other reasons include:
- I have something important to share. (having a mission is possibly the best reason of all)
- I want to be heard. (youngest children claim this one most often)
- It will be good for business. (a book, it's been said, is the ultimate business card)
- My sister made me do it (I did force my sister Debbie to write her first book).
- A book will give me more credibility with the media (true, a book is a golden ticket into the media).
I believe the real reason so many people say they want to write a book is quite simple:
Being a published author is a big, fat billboard that says "I'm Smart!"
And, who doesn't want to be seen as smart?
Perhaps the best reason is because you have no choice.
Sometimes there is a book inside us that is kicking and screaming to get out. A message that insists on being seen and heard.
What happens then? (Hint: quitting your day job should not be your next step.)
For those of you with the drive and energy to begin writing, I suggest you first learn a little bit about how publishing works. Here's my story:
As a lifelong lover of books and reading, I inadvertently became deeply immersed in the world of non-fiction publishing. It began in 1990 with a book idea. I wrote a proposal, found a big-name publisher, declined the publisher (I was appalled at the low royalty rate offered - silly me...it was a standard rate), mortgaged my home to self-publish, found a distributor (yay!), got returned and remaindered (so sad) but learned a ton along the way. $20,000 poorer, I then segued into book publicity (clients included Deepak Chopra, Chicken Soup for The Soul and other big names), became a literary agent with some solid hits, and authored seven books of my own. (I'm not yet rich or famous but have happily become a strong mid-list author.) So, while my degree from University of Florida was in advertising, I earned my own equivalent of a masters degree in publishing through hard work and experience. I often ask myself, "if I could do it all over again, what would I do differently?" I am pretty sure I would not have taken out a line of credit against my mortgage to finance my self-publishing venture. But I did learn some important lessons about when and why to publish, and when to write just for yourself.
So, if you feel the yen to write a book, you may want to ask yourself these questions: Do I have a book burning inside me that must come out? Will this book benefit other people? If yes, then step right up and take a ticket for the roller coaster ride that will lead you toward a published book.
About Arielle Ford:
Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: www.HowToWriteMyBook.com.