For the love of God, and in the name of Gutenberg… STOP writing your book!
There’s a rumor going around, about the mysterious way a book is created. Someone locks themselves in a room, pushes words from their brain, through their fingers, into a manuscript, until a book appears.
Arduous. Pixie dust is somehow involved. And bouts with depression.
There’s an even uglier rumor; that books are formed like pop music groups. Market research, topics, and trends are carefully combined to create a “hit.”
And the months go by…
Aspiring authors invest months, sometimes years, writing, self-editing, and polishing their book. Countless grammatical and spelling checks. Page formatting and just-right fonts. I personally like checking word counts, how about you?
Our conversations usually start like this:
“I just finished my book! (Panting… Puppy dog eyes opened wide) Can you help me publish it?”
Being the eternal optimist, I check it out.
Many times there is not a clear purpose, progression, or outcome. Too often, the title and subtitle are bland, but by now they are verbally and philosophically embedded in the manuscript. And sometimes the book just isn’t good – but not because the author has nothing compelling to say.
By the way – creating a “bad” DRAFT is part of the process. (Thank you, Anne Lamott) The tragedy intensifies when many months of effort are invested PERFECTING a bad draft. So, what’s a writer to do?
Your book is like a house
There are many great resources that inspire writers to keep writing. Hide those in the freezer for now, OK? Think about your book like building a house.
Once you decide to build, you could go to the lumber store, get some materials, and get to work building it. Listen to those saws and hammers!
Or, you could STOP. Make a wish-list. Consider the comparable properties and plan curb appeal. Talk with an architect to imagine concepts, budgets, and most importantly, to challenge you with questions you’ve never considered.
Which option has a better chance of producing your dream home? Which would produce a higher value to prospective buyers? This is the value of creating your blueprint for writing.
Can I start hammering yet?
Here are a few practical questions that help “architect” a book:
· Premise – Why does this book exist? Amazon carries some pretty good ones already.
· What’s the outcome we’re looking for? “I loved this book because…”
· The Market and Motivation – Who will buy this, and why?
· Who are “Competitors”? (And why is your book different?)
· How will this strengthen (or confuse) your brand?
These are components of a good book proposal. Yes, designing a remarkable house, that appreciates in value, can be more challenging than the actual construction.
You are the general contractor of your book
There’s a Proverb about construction, from a very influential writer named Sol.
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Chapter 24, line 3)
My translation for authors would be: By inspiration, a book idea is conceived, and through counsel and learning it is designed; through knowledge its chapters are filled with unique and beautiful treasures.
See the progression?
Inspiration starts, then deeper understanding builds a great foundation. Then the decorating! Of course inspiration happens all along the way. Impulse buys and change-orders are part of the process. It’s messy – just like building a house.
“Drop the pen! Step awaaaaay from the laptop!”
I love reading all those acknowledgements in a book. The people listed are all architects, in some way or another. Many people skip these names; friends, family, publisher, editor, reviewers, encouragers. But without this team, there’s no book – usually not a good one, anyway.
Musicians have producers. Entrepreneurs have business plans. Filmmakers have storyboards and private screening rooms. Who’s helping you make your art the best it can be?
Stop writing and back away from the book – so you can see it!
Ask yourself tough questions. Then bring wise counsel into your inner circle. Let them huff and puff and try to blow your house down.
When your plans are as solid as a rock, for the love of God, write!
Interested in some architectural planning? Contact us!