My WHOLE life I have felt that feeling. I have these piles of ideas, these stories - some just in my head, others on paper, that I want so badly to DO something with. It's a nagging feeling. It's an ache. It's a feeling of urgency, almost anxiety. Oh ya, and a little bit of hopelessness, from not being sure what the next step is.
Do YOU feel this way?
If you do, first of all, believe me when I say, I have been there! And I know first-hand that the ONLY thing that's keeping you from doing something with your ideas and stories is YOU. It's all up to your will, your determination, your desire, and willingness to motivate yourself. And it's not going to happen unless you invest some time into it, do a little bit of research, find the answers, and kick yourself in the tush to get going!
So here's the great news. I PROMISE that you, yes YOU - even if you are inexperienced, even if you don't feel like an "expert", even if you don't know how to proceed - you CAN accomplish your life-long dreams of publishing a book! And I'm going to tell you how:
DO RESEARCH. What are you trying to write? A novel? A children's book? A self-help book? Who is your target audience? Research how long it should be, what's appropriate, what publishers are looking for, and general guidelines.
FINISH YOUR BOOK. Write the whole thing. FORCE yourself to finish it. Try not to do other hobby projects until you get the dang thing done first- So many people have a dream of writing their book, but most just can't seem to finish it. FINISH it! Make time. Take your project into your own hands. Be proactive. Make a goal for yourself. Say "I'm going to finish this by the end of the year" and then set aside time to do it when you can.
Read your book and then re-read it. And then take a break and re-read it again. Edit it to make sure you are 100% satisfied with it. And then...
Give your book to people you trust to edit it. It's pretty intimidating and a little scary, but it's ESSENTIAL. Have as many people read it as you can. Tell them to be honest because you are trying to make it the best book you can. Take all their comments into consideration. If more than half are all saying the same thing, listen to them. Don't be lazy. Take the time to edit your story, so it's perfect (actually it probably will never feel "perfect", but as good as you feel it possibly can be).
Now that your project is done, you can go two routes for publishing.
- You can try to go the traditional route - this is the route that every writer dreams of. This is getting picked up by a large publishing company who will sell and market your book. This is also where the odds are really working against you. It's extremely competitive and it will probably involve a lot of rejection, but it's not impossible! You will want to get an agent first. So spend some time googling "how to query literary agents" (look at several different sites to get a good grasp on it). I like "Method 2 of 4: Publishing Your Book with the Help of a Literary Agent" on this WikiHow website: www.wikihow.com/Publish-a-Book.
- If the traditional route isn't for you, you can instead go the "self-publishing" route, which is what I did. And PS. I have loved my experience with it! There are a lot of companies that can help you self-publish. Some will even do it for free and print the book on demand. I went with Createspace, because they do both those things. Also, after researching many other companies, Createspace seemed to allow the highest amounts of profits with each sell while allowing me to keep the book cost relatively low. I've been very happy with them. If you want to find out more, go to https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/ or call their customer service line and they can give you a run-down of their services.
If you've gone the self-publishing route, it's time to market your book! There are infinite ways to do this! But I would say this: create a website, facebook page, and twitter account where you can promote yourself. Make business cards and keep them with you wherever you go. Get involved in the community - work with local book stores and libraries to organize events. And then google more ideas of how you can self-market. :)
Illustration Considerations: Now if you are just writing a book, that's one thing, but if you want your book to have illustrations, that's another thing. So here's what you need to know about it if you are going the self-publishing route:
- If YOU plan to create the illustrations, then uploading the illustrations with the text to Createspace can be tricky. The illustrations have to meet certain technical requirements as well as mesh with the words, and you have to be semi tech-savy to do this. I did NOT feel capable of this, which is why I hired a graphic designer to do it for me. So, there's one expense that you should be aware of. The cost for a graphic designer to format your book properly varies, but can be anywhere between 400 to 1000+ dollars depending on who you go to (Search among your friends/family for someone who could give you a deal or do it for free). A lot of other self-publishing companies will offer this service for a similar fee.
- If you want someone ELSE to do your illustrations, then it gets even more expensive, because now you have to hire an artist. The price for this also varies. Many self-publishing companies offer this service as well, but at a hefty cost. Like, in the thousands..Don't worry though, the dream can still come true! It might just be a very big investment. Which brings me to my next thought...
As you can see, it CAN be very expensive to publish a book, specifically a self-published book that contains illustrations. Also, no matter where/how you publish your book, there's not guarantee about how successful it will be. A lot of it depends on your marketing techniques and the amount of time/effort you put into it, how much audiences truly like your book, and then there's a lot of luck involved too - or who you know.
My suggestion would be to weigh the cost/benefit ratio out in your mind. How much do you want your dream to come true? Enough to spend money on it that you very well may never make back? Do you think your book is good enough that you really COULD make the money back in sales? Does making a profit even matter to you?
Obviously there's no right or wrong answers, it's just important to be realistic and think about what you want out of your published book: To be able to say you fulfilled your dream of being published? To make money? Something else?
I truly hope that if you feel that burning desire to fulfill your dream of publishing a book like I did, you will do what it takes to make that dream a reality. It's all up to you and believe me, if I can do it, I KNOW you can too. So, keep working on it, don't give up, stay determined, keep pushing yourself, and go publish that book of yours!!