Writing books is not like frying shrimp
This article is written, not for experienced authors and self-publishers, but for those just dipping their toes into the water, so to speak. It was inspired by a couple of e-mails from readers of my latest novel, “The Stones of Silence“, which has been on sale for almost two weeks. I hated to rain on their parade, but they seemed to lack an understanding of just how much hard work goes into making a book successful. I thought it might be worthwhile to put up an article summarizing the issue.
I’m sure some of you have seen the very funny commercial about an alleged Japanese method of fast-frying shrimp.
Trouble is, some new entrants into the book-writing and -publishing business think that their ambitions can be realized in a very similar fashion. Just set up everything, add pre-set ingredients according to some arcane recipe, strike a spark, and voila! It’s done!
Of course, those of us who’ve been “in the trade” for a while realize that’s not the case. Catching or buying the food (or, in our case, writing the book) is not even half the work. There’s also:
- critiquing it through alpha and beta readers;
- editing, correcting and improving it;
- preparing a final draft for publication;
- formatting and setting up the draft to look good in different formats (e.g. e-book, printed copy, etc.);
- getting the finished product to the public via vendors (e.g. Amazon, the Apple Store, Kobo, and other outlets);
- marketing and publicizing it;
- fixing the errors that we (inevitably) failed to notice before it was published;
- and all the rest.
Having done all that, we then do it all over again for the next one! It may get quicker with practice, but we dare not let our attention slacken for a moment. As soon as we do, errors creep in, and we have to hurriedly reverse course to fix them (sometimes only at the cost of embarrassment, other times at financial cost too).
I’d like to encourage new writers to enjoy what they’re doing, and not get bogged down: but realize, too, that you will have to tackle all of those steps before you can even hope to achieve success. It’s not enough, in today’s market, to just write the book. That’s probably less than half the work involved in making it a success.
Food for thought, that. If you aren’t prepared to put in the work, you might want to reconsider publishing your book.