Of course, the aspiring author must learn the craft, practice, and obtain critique. That’s because the story must compel the reader to keep reading, from the “killer title,” to gripping the reader at every turn. “Grab them by the throat, and never let go,” the experts tell us. The reason: within seconds, the potential reader decides whether or not to buy your book. Title, front cover design, endorsements, captivating back cover copy, and inviting picture lead the reader to pursue further. “Should I see how the book begins?” Reading the first sentence tells the reader whether or not reading the first paragraph is worthwhile. That, in turn, shows the potential reader he or she must have your book–or can pass on it.
Writing a book, however, represents only half the challenge. Who will publish and promote your book? Here are some further steps I had to take in writing about Job.
Early on, a well-known agent offered to represent me with publishing houses. The author through his or her agent submits to publishers a “Proposal” containing the book concept (is it unique?), audience (who will read it?), what other books are similar (why is my book better?), and sample chapters (can this guy write?). Publishing is big business. Is there a market for my book? How much does it cost to put my book out? Editors, printers, and designers, not to mention a whole committee just to select your title will cost $50,000.With so much at stake, the acquisitions editor eyes your “platform.”
As a business, the publisher wants to know how you will sell your book. If you’ve written for a number of years, published articles in magazines and journals on your subject, you’ve got a track record and some name recognition as an authority. Without name recognition, first-time authors are at a disadvantage. So are older authors. “We look for authors we can follow through their career of 20 years or so,” one editor told me. In other words, I’m too old. A nation-wide radio or TV ministry is a good platform, but who has that?
After several years of trying, my agent failed to interest any traditional Christian publisher. Most probably, the reason focused on my lack of platform. I’m not a pastor, let alone a pastor of a mega-church. Most rejection comments offered support. “Encourage the author to keep writing,” wrote one editor. I then decided to pursue self-publishing. That’s where I get to put up the money. I chose the Jerry Jenkins-led (co-author, Left Behind series) Christian Writers Guild because it used printing on demand (POD) and it had a ministry with the Christian market. After the required 6-month non-fiction writing course (they also require quality) and moving over to BelieversPress to print (now part of BelieversMedia), editing, formatting, cover design and my proof-reading (3 times in hard copy, 2 times with pdf file), Tragedy Transformed is almost ready. I have an ISBN number, Library of Congress number, and have registered with Bowker’s Books In Print.
Just as platform is important to sell copies, so the need to promote my work only increases as I approach Launch in late May. I have strengthened my presence on Facebook (445 Friends), Linkedin (326 Connections), and Google Plus (nearly 1700 followers). I’m contacting my four alma maters to get into their bookstores, Costco managers (needs Corporate approval to sell there), planning a month-long tour of east coast churches, where I have spoken or am known, in September. I’ll promote and sell at my 60th high school reunion and at my wife’s 55th college reunion. I’ve sent word through hundreds of emails and over a hundred postcards. That’s just a start, as I will also register an author page on Amazon.com, work with Goodreads.com, and use My book Table at Authormedia.com. I sent an excerpt of my first chapter to subscribers to PARAKLETOS, a free monthly pdf file for pastors and others interested in counseling issues.
I am proud to promote Tragedy Transformed. It will help friends, loved ones, and perhaps even you as we negotiate together the difficult times life brings us. Thank you for sharing my vision through this blog. Will you join me in getting the word out about my book of hope? Let me know of your interest through Comments, Friend me on Facebook or connect on Linkedin. I look forward to hearing from you.
Next week: The Terror Of Writing.