Thursday, December 03, 2015

Writing Takes Courage

It's not easy to be a writer and push your ideas out into the world.  The process of publishing involves risk and takes courage. I wish there were some guarantees. The only guarantee for the writer is to continually work hard to expand their platform and reach their audience.

Through twitter, often writers will reach out to me through email and ask how I can help them. My answer depends on their situation and what they need. Recently a self-published novelist approached me for help. She had sold 35 copies of her book and wanted to know what to do next. I sent her a number of links and ideas. Her situation is fairly typical. What authors don't often consider if they self-publish is they are taking 100% of the responsibility for selling the book and completely on their own (no one helping them). Another aspect they don't know (because they often aren't a part of publishing) is they are jumping into relationship with a company publishing at least 50,000 titles a year (follow this link if you don't believe the number and I know these numbers are four years old and only increasing).

In my exchange with this novelist, I offered to review her book and possibly pitch it to my publication board at Morgan James Publishing. I say “possibly” because I do not do this for every author or every type of book.  As an acquisitions editor, my responsibility is to look for the right book and the right author. We have standards and criteria—unlike self-publishing. We only publish about 150 books a year and receive over 5,000 submissions for those few spots. My job involves this sorting process looking for quality and the right authors. If (and that could be a big if) the submission is appropriate and well-done, then I process the submission into the publisher system and later schedule a time to speak with the author.

She did some research online and learned there might be a financial investment so she balked sending me her “lifetime work.” The key is there “might” be an investment—if she even sends it and if she gets an offer to publish. There are many unknowns in this process but the writer has to have courage and move ahead. As an acquisitions editor, I invest hours with authors talking to them about the unique way books are published at Morgan James.

It does not mean the process is easy or simple but it is possible. I'm sincere on my twitter profile where I offer to help authors and give my personal email address. I help in many different ways:

1. Answering my email and returning phone calls. This type of prompt communication is different in a publishing world which doesn't respond. Often writers feel like their submissions and emails and manuscripts go into a black hole.

2. Sending them to my free information like this article in The Writing Life or on Right-Writing or one of my numerous free teleseminars.

3. Sometimes I offer for the author to send their manuscript to my work email then process the submission and see if I can get them a book contract. Each step in the process for them to move forward takes courage and action. In this process, you need to work with people you can trust—but also people who give you a realistic picture of the process. I tell every author that I speak with about Morgan James that it is 80% their responsibility. Also I make sure I tell them about how bookstores buy books and the authors key role in that process. It's key to manage their expectations and help them understand the important role of every author in the process of getting their book into the market.

When we think of courage, often a lion illustrates courage because of their behavior. As writers we need to have courage and take action with our writing.

Books change lives. I know first hand how a book changed my life. It does not happen sitting on your computer or in your desk drawer. It takes courage to take action and get it out into the world. Do something courageous with your writing today.

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