• Rachel Patterson

So you want to write a book?


I get A LOT of enquiries from people asking advice on how to write a book or get one published (or both).

I am not an editor or publisher and can only share my own personal experiences getting my own books published - my experience may not be the same as others.

Note:

I cannot help you get your book published, as I say, I am an author NOT a publisher or editor.

I cannot advise about self publishing - I have never done it myself.

I have never paid any money to have a book published.

I do not have an agent (at the moment... who knows if I may need one in the future?).

However, here is what I know: It ain't always easy. It takes a lot of research to write a book and a huge amount of time and effort. You have to get your facts right, there are people out there just waiting to pick holes in what you write (and let's face it you don't really want people to read your work if it is incorrect.). You may have to trawl around lots of publishers before one takes you on...and that might not happen at all (sorry but it's the bare face truth). Even some of the famous authors have had rejections. Research the market, if the subject you want to write about has been covered by lots of people already then unless you have a totally unique spin on it a publisher probably won't risk it. The chance of you becoming JK Rowling status in the book world is incredibly slim, especially if you are writing for a niche market such as Occult/Spiritual. It is unlikely that you will make enough money to actually make a living, you will most definitely need a second job. Small publishers do not pay advances. You will have to do a huge amount of marketing for your book yourself. You will need to do as much proof reading and editing as you can, smaller publishers will only usually do one proof read - so make sure your spelling and grammar is as perfect as you can get it. If you want to sell copies of your book at markets and fairs you will have to purchase them from the publisher up front (albeit at a reduced cost). Most publishers have a scale of contracts.

At the highest level - meaning they cover all the costs and you get a percentage of sales from the sale of the first book (usually around 10% on paperbacks) and a high level of marketing is done for you.

The scale then slides downwards. It might be that you have to sell 500 or 1000 books before you receive any royalties - the publisher takes the initial monies to cover their printing costs.

At the lower end of the contract scale you may be required to pay a fee to have your book printed. If you are a new author then the publisher will probably want to see the whole finished manuscript, ideas of who your target market is and names of similar books already out there, they will also want to know what unique selling points you and your book have to offer. Colour photographs in a book cost a lot of money, chances are smaller publishers won't want to produce anything more than simple line diagrams in a book, if that. Sorry it sounds all doom and gloom, it isn't really, it is just reality. And I would like to point out that my own publishers have been amazing and totally supportive. And if all else fails there are several self publishing avenues you could follow (but that does cost money up front). If you do self publish, please be careful with layout, proof reading and cover designs - I have seen some truly awful ones and it does not inspire the reader to purchase the book or read it. However having said all that - if you want to write a book I encourage you to do so - get on and do it - if you don't try you will never know...

#writeabook

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