Monday

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A ...BOOK

Most of us are familiar with the African proverb about how it takes a village to raise a child and when it comes to producing a book and raising it in the awareness of our target readers, it also takes a village of sorts. This is an excerpt from my upcoming book that deals with the topic of creating a team to help an author raise her book. Some parts of this chapter have been excluded for the sake of brevity:

Does an author need to know everything necessary about the book creation process before she starts to create her own book? Absolutely not! To think that you must have complete knowledge about all of the ins and outs of this business is a total waste of time when the information is available when needed and you can hire people to help you through most of the processes involved. The most important part of creating your book is the courage to put your own ideas and thoughts down on paper. Your creativity, unique perspective and voice are the essential ingredients to creating a book. Even if you do not have complete mastery of the language, grammar, spelling and so on, you can employ someone to help you with these things but they cannot create the essential idea for you, only clean up and organize and make correct what your thoughts are.

This is the time to accept the fact that you will require a team to get your book completed and at some point it will be important to consider who you need on the team. First of all, understand that location means nothing anymore and this will help you to find the right people, at the right time, who will work in your best interests. Everything can and should be done from the comfort of your computer as you deal with book writing coaches, editors, designers, artists, marketers, printers, distributors, agents and publishers. We are not going to spend too much time in this book on the area of social networking, marketing, e-books and readers or the various formats needed for these important areas. This will be the subject of our next book. It is important however, to know that you are responsible, regardless of having a publisher or not, for the marketing of your book. That may come as a surprise to some to learn that landing a publishing contract does not mean the end of your relationship with your book but rather, the beginning of your job to sell it.

It may also come as a surprise to some, if you have not written and published before, that in order to land that traditional contract, you will most likely have to sign over all of the rights to your book including foreign language, movie, audio and most importantly today, the digital rights. I urge you to carefully consider all of the pros and cons and suggest that you not be too eager to give away your hard work too easily. You might seek the counsel of a good book writing coach to advise you in this area. Most of the industry experts have a personal axe to grind and there are very few lawyers, accountants and other objective viewers who have hands-on knowledge of today’s world of publishing. The bottom line on this area is that the world of book creation is in a total state of change at this time and staying current while protecting yourself and making sure that you, as the author, maximize your returns, in all ways, will take some research and astute business decisions. The best advice I can give you is to consider the motivations of the person who is offering you advice and be sure that it is really advice and not a sales pitch.

We have covered some very important areas that relate to “Know-How” already but they bear repeating and review and I encourage you to do so. We have discussed some ways to create an “expert status” for yourself through ... We have covered the 7 characteristics of a bestselling title and you should be using a good, if not finalized, working title by now. We have mentioned the importance of creating a time and place for your daily writings...

... We have also touched on the idea of creating a “team” of experts who would be available to take care of the areas of authorship that you do not want to do yourself. While your primary responsibility is to create your manuscript, you might want to do some of the other jobs yourself or for various reasons may want to contract them out. In the conventional world of publishing, some of these responsibilities are undertaken by the publisher like editing and design. They usually also have control over title and cover creation in addition to distribution channels and so forth. If you are inclined to turn over these areas to a conventional publisher, then you really only need turn your thoughts to promotion. On the other hand, if you are going to retain control of your book, then you also need to accept responsibility for the other parts of making it available in a professional format to your readers. This brings us to editing.

Have I said that everyone needs an independent editor? Choose an editor with care but, without exception, choose an editor. There are several professional editor organizations that can be found online and in most cases they have a method of entering criteria that will help you choose the one for your work. Some criteria you might wish to consider will include experience and educational levels, their own website information, references, familiarity with your topic and so on. A few words of caution here are necessary; everything that we thought we knew about the book process is changing including, and most importantly, the reader and you may need an editor who understands this. The language itself is constantly morphing and this might be important to your reader depending on your topic. There used to be hard and fast rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling and some might feel as though they are under attack, but really, they are simply evolving. If your book is designed to be read by a generation raised on MTV, Twitter and Facebook, there is not much point in insisting on the proper usage of the King’s English - you will lose all credibility with your audience. Likewise, there is a very real move towards authenticity,not necessarily by writers, but rather readers and they demand the same in their books. This means that it is perfectly alright to write in a similar manner to which you speak and your editor needs to know that is how you want to proceed. You will need to have a conversation with an editor that explains all of this while still trusting her to make sure your information flows and connects properly. You can set yourself apart from other writers by insisting that you maintain correct, but up to date style, and technical aspects without constricting your connection to the reader. Once again, know your reader!

And also, know yourself because you might have a more formal speaking approach and you want your writing to reflect who you really are. If you write in one style and speak in a different style, there is a disconnect for your audience, so in order to reflect an air of authenticity, one that is real, it will be necessary to allow your writing to mimic your speaking. Speaking of speech, let’s consider this idea: if you were making a platform speech ( and if your book works, you might) would you say it the same way. In that vein, would you use profanity, humor, poetry and so on? If you would not use a word in front of a live audience, don’t use it in your book. In terms of profanity, less is more. We have become immune to swearing to a large extent (once again, depending on WHO you are writing to) and it will be much more powerful when used sparingly in non-fiction writing...


...Who might you need to have on your team to make this book a reality?
  • Coach/Mentor to keep you on track, focused, accountable, encouraged, on purpose, confident, organized. This person should be experienced, objective, knowledgeable and have only your best interests in mind. They need to be both a taskmaster and a cheerleader.
  • editor - check references and experience - consider referrals
  • cover designer - be sure you have several choices
  • layout designer - not always necessary depending on e-book formatting
  • marketing person who is familiar with the book industry and new media
  • publicist
  • agent
  • publisher
  • printer
  • distributor

This not a complete list and in many instances you will do some of this work yourself and may not need several of the services, but insist on an outside editor please.

There are incredible advances in technology that will allow you to verbally create a book too. Software that will allow you to speak and then have your computer translate that into the written word. For professional speakers, this may be a great way to create a rough written copy of your speeches to include in a book. It is interesting that these forms of software are not only improving but becoming more acceptable in schools as ways to write papers. Keep an eye on this area since the quill and paper may not be the only option for creating your masterpiece.

copyright Robert J. Bannon
May be reprinted with written permission and acknowledgment link