Why you should use your holiday break to write a book
The holiday season is upon us: it’s time to take a well-deserved break from work and your usual responsibilities. But what will you do this holiday break?
For people who love writing or telling a story, this question is a no-brainer. Whether you’re staying at home or going away, why don’t you use your next holiday break to tell or write your story, then self-publish it as a book?
‘But I am not a writer!’
A writer or storyteller doesn’t need any experience in writing.
To write your story, you just need to be able to write (or type) well enough to put your thoughts down on paper (or into a computer).
But you might not feel comfortable writing, or you might be a far better talker than a writer. If this is the case, you don’t need to do the writing yourself.
You can simply tell your story, and ask someone to type it up for you.
For example, you can sit with a typist (like me) and tell your story; they will type what you’re saying as you speak. Or you can ask someone to record you while you’re telling your stories then have the recordings typed up. Even though you have verbally told the story, not written it, you are still the author and the copyright owner of your story.
Why write a book?
When writers, or people with a story to tell, actually write their story, or tell their story for others to write down for them, they feel a sense of satisfaction. And if they publish their story, they feel as happy as anyone who creates something marvellous out of their own head and heart and spirit. They may feel fulfilled, as if they have brought a baby into the world.
This is why you should look into your heart and find the most important story you have to tell, and either write it down, or find someone to listen and record your story as you tell it. So that your story is out there, ready to be produced into a book and shared with the right audience – purely for your own satisfaction and happiness.
Will writing a book make me rich?
I am sorry to put a dampener on the whole writing business but, in a word: no. It’s highly unlikely that writing a book will make you rich.
Of course, you never know. ‘Best sellers’ do happen and it is possible to get rich quickly from writing a book. Just as it’s possible to win the jackpot in Tattslotto.
If your book is for sale, it’s likely you will sell some books and your earnings from the sale of your book will hopefully cover costs. You may even make a profit. But if you add up the writing hours you spent on your book, and compare that to your earnings, you will probably be dismayed that your hourly rate is so far below the earnings of writers or editors employed within the book industry.
In fact, most published writers who are making a good living earn their main income from activities other than book sales. They run writers’ courses, present at conferences, and are paid by advertisers on their sites and blogs. Even among the well-known, award-winning writers, only some of them are able to make a living from the sales of their books.
If getting rich was one of the goals you thought you could achieve by writing a book, I suggest you strike it off the list and replace that goal with something like ‘attain the satisfaction of sharing my story’, or ‘help other people by sharing my story with them’.
Finding something worthwhile to write or tell a story about
We have all lived our lives and therefore we all have stories. Many of our stories may be too private or embarrassing or boring for public consumption. But most of us have lived through certain experiences that other people would find interesting, or fascinating, or educational – experiences that others would want to hear. So, we all have a few worthwhile stories to write or tell.
But if you want to write a book, it needs to have a focus. The next steps in deciding what your book is going to be about are:
- first, list all the stories about your life that you could tell
- then choose the story that will be the most difficult to tell or writ. Because that difficult story is most likely the one that will the most interesting and the most helpful to your readers.
Your story’s audience
Whether people will want to read or hear your story depends on who they are. For example, if your chosen audience is your family members only, they will probably be interested in every aspect of your story simply because you are a member of their family and your story is about people they know in real life. On the other hand, if your audience includes members of the general public, your story will have to be particularly interesting, for them to want to read it.
So, who do you want to read your book, and who would find your story interesting? Family members only? Other people of your age group only, or younger or older ones as well? Other people of your gender, or all genders?
Knowing who your audience is will affect the way you write your book.
What are the steps (and costs) of publishing your book?
After you have used your holiday break to write your memoir, novella or whatever type of story you wanted to tell, you will have completed what we editors and writers call a ‘1st draft manuscript’. Your manuscript (MS) may be 20,000 words long, or it may be 40,000 words. Being a 1st draft, it will probably be pretty rough.
Now begins the editing process; this may take weeks, or months.
Even if you have never written anything before this manuscript, with some guidance you will be able to self-edit your MS so that it is easier for the audience to read and understand. See: Self-editing your manuscript (fiction or non-fiction)
The subsequent stages of editing need to be done by a professional editor. This can be costly (between $2000 and $6000, depending on the length of the MS and the level of editing needed, which will depend upon your audience). See: The editing stages
After editing, you can either:
- send your MS to publishers who may or may not wish to publish your book, or
- self-publish your book which means either 1) paying others to design and print or e-publish your book, or 2) if your book is for your family or friends only, you can simply photocopy the document and bind it yourself, which is still a ‘self-published book’ even though it isn’t suitable for sale in a shop.
For more information about self-publishing, go to:
- The steps of producing a self-published hard copy book
- (One assessment of) how much it costs to self-publish a book
- Marketing your self-published book
- Our services: MS appraisal, editing, proofreading, self-publishing
- A self-publishing case study: from handwritten MS to printed book stage
Edited by Dee Sansom, On Time Typing, Editing and Proofreading
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