Anyone can write a book. It’s true. Writing a book is easy.
To quote my friend and editor, Christopher Durso, “There. I said it.”
So if you happen upon this post and you are thinking about writing a book, stop thinking about it and do it. Because writing a book is easy. Yes, it takes time, but it is not hard. You probably learned to write sentences and craft paragraphs back in grade school. Just do that a bunch of times until the book is done. Easy, schmeasy.
Writing a good book is very hard.
Sure, you saw that coming.
Have I written any good books? Well, I actually don’t get to decide. That’s what ratings and reviews are for. And sales. I like all my books, which is good since (a) I spend a lot of time writing them, (b) I spend a lot of time with them after writing them, and (c) if I didn’t like my own books, this whole writing thing would be rather sad.
Even writing a good book is not the hard part.
Writing a good book that people actually read is very, very hard. Every single successful self-published author I know or have researched has done something significant to get people to read their book. (I can’t really include traditionally-published authors in this discussion, since I am not one and since it could be possible, though doubtful, that a traditionally-published author could survive without working to get readers. Ostensibly, that is what the publishing company is for.)
I am not here to debate self publishing versus traditional publishing. Hugh Howey‘s got all the good arguments on that front.
Still, my point is that anyone can write a book. You may think a books sucks, which is your right, but someone else may fall deeply, madly in love with it. Look at Faulkner. Apologies to any fans, but I cannot stand Faulker’s writing. It’s just not for me. Still, he is one of the most esteemed writers in American history. Two Pulitzers and a Nobel…
There are, at any given time, many books on many bestsellers lists that suck. No doubt.
So let’s assume you can string words together to make a sentence and sentences together to make paragraphs and paragraphs together to make chapters and chapters together to make a book. Let’s even assume your book doesn’t suck (congrats!). What then? (If you find out, please DM me.)
What you need to do is have it edited properly. My books are worlds better when Chris edits them. Then, you need a good cover design (I know a guy). Then you need decent advertising smarts to write a blurb that people will be interested by. Then you need to publish.
Things might happen.
Maybe not things you want, but things might happen. Most likely, you’ll make almost no splash at all.
You have to do something to promote your work. “Nothing” is not an option. No promo equals no sales, no doubt. The fact of the matter is that, yes, your friends and family will, for the most part, buy your book. Some will give it an honest review, some will just give it a glowing review because they like you. Some will not say anything at all. This likely means either (a) they forgot or saw something shiny, (b) leaving a review feels somehow “important” and they are not ready for it, or (c) they didn’t like your book and can’t bear to either leave a bad review or lie and leave a good one.
So all that is normal.
When you get past that, you get into the unknown. Complete strangers buying your book. With money. Money they could use for food, water, shelter, basic necessities. Yet they have chosen to spend said money on your book. I think every one of these is amazing.
The sad truth is that writers cannot live on the emotional victory of one sale. So it’s a numbers game. More sales are necessary. Sales from people you’ve never met, in places you may never set foot.
There are an almost infinite number of book promo opportunities. Leverage all the ones that work for you (which may be different than other writers). Write blog posts. Be active on social media. When I fall asleep on these options, my sales show it.
Most importantly, keep trying. I do not have all the answers. (For the record, I have six answers. I believe there are 14,563,934 questions. I have a ways to go.) Next month, I am trying an all-out blitz of promotion (November 11 – look for it!). Plus I am currently holding a Goodreads book giveaway. These are new to me. I’m paying attention to which ones move the needle.
I never expected any of this, this new world of promotion (SELF promotion, at that!). I thought I could write a book and see what happens. But I can tell you: Nothing happens without the other work.
Writing a book is easy. Anyone can do it.