Okay, let’s be honest. Most of us would love to see a book out in the world with our name on it. We’d imagine book signings, interviews, and all the wonderful comments. You know we would. Or at least I have.
So what does it take, and what will it cost to write a book? These are two very different questions.
What it takes
Writing a book takes a lot of work. Believe me on this one. You do not just sit at the computer and say to your inner self, Go, watching the words magically run onto the paper, careful not to bump into each other. Words don’t dance onto your screen in perfect rhythm.
It’s more of a stampede, where it’s every word for itself.
Then you have to choose which ones to take out. And they do not leave peaceably. They shout, demanding they have a right to be there.
Wearing the editor’s cap you become heartless. Lining the words up, you dismiss them one by one. Sometimes a whole group. And a lucky few may hear, “I may use you later, I’ll keep you on file.”
As you go through your piece many times then you move onto formatting. Your manuscript has to be presented in a certain way. We’re not handing little dandelions to our moms. Presentation counts.
Plus now we are engaging the other side of our brains, the technical side. And you want it that way. First we let the thoughts just flow out of us, then we choose who stays.
If you have the financial means there are people you can hire for this part. But until you are in that position, it’s your responsibility.
Then you sit with your manuscript completed. Now it’s time to invite other eyes to see it. Fresh eyes. It’s at this point you invite feedback. You’ll hear where your writing stopped flowing. Your mistakes will be illuminated. This is where you’ll learn how teachable you are.
Once changes are made, you’re ready to submit. Resistance is the greatest as you near the finish. Expect it. Fight it with everything you’ve got. Then you’ll move onto the next phase.
Holding the proof in your hand, you’ll see it was appropriately named. It is proof. Proof you worked hard, proof you stuck with it when you felt like giving up. But you’re not done yet.
If there are additional changes to be made, you make them. And if you’re happy with what you have, you approach one more button. Approve.
Once again resistance shows up. And there you sit feeling the weight on you. But somehow you remind yourself why you wrote the book. You ignore your fears and get ready to press the button. Don’t think you can postpone publishing till you no longer feel afraid.
It won’t happen.
Your book is now visible to the world. For some, this is the gravy part. The part you’ve been waiting for. For some. But what if you took Hemingway’s advice?
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
What if everyone is looking at you all bloody?
Some books are about impersonal topics, or they are instructional. While those books take the same amount of work, writing a personal story is different.
It’s not just your book that is exposed. It’s also you — you are out there. Now before you say, “Well why did you put yourself in your book if you didn’t want to be exposed?”
Let me just say this. Sometimes we’re called to write the painful things.
What it cost
Putting yourself out there will cost whatever you have. Why? Because you’ve taken a risk.
- People could like it.
- People could love it.
- You could receive praises that expand your head like a balloon.
- You could receive no comments.
- You could receive harsh comments.
If you’re serious about getting a book out there. You need to expect all of those. And when the harsh comments come, it’s okay. Everyone has a right to their opinion — everyone.
Note: you may find the harshest comments are written from those who are not authors. Just give grace to others. You have opinions too, we all do.
There you have it. All in a nice package with a bow on top. At least, that’s my experience.
Do you have what it takes? Will you spend what it may cost you? Share in the comments.
About Anne Peterson
Anne is a poet, speaker, and author of 42 Bible studies and 25 articles with Christianity Today as well as her book, Real Love: Guaranteed to Last.