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The Life of an Author
A lot of people ask me what it's like to write a book.

They picture me, alone in a clean room, with flowers in a vase and sun streaming in, typing rhthmically on my keyboard, as I transfer the vast array of wisdom and knowledge from my brain to the screen. Every now and then I stop for a glass of water, or for a brief moment of peace and tranquility, as I thank God for the opportunity to write.

They're wrong. There's a whole lot more chocolate involved. And probably a whole lot less wisdom.

Last month I forced myself to sit down and write a book proposal for my agent. This month I have to bang out three sample chapters that I have yet to fully conceptualize. And in the meantime I've got laundry to do, grocery shopping to finish, hair appointments, piano lessons, repairmen, and all the usual stuff of life. I'm also trying to maintain some semblance of normality in my life as the kids do their schooling and the house stays relatively sane.

In other words, I'm insane.

I'm really excited about this project, and I'll likely let you in on it soon (but in the meantime, if you want to help, you can take my "Wedding Night Survey"!). But what does go into writing a book? Many of you have told me that you really want to write, and that you feel that you have a book that you want to share. So let me use this post to tell you how you go about actually getting a book published.

Basically, two routes to publication exist:

1. Self-publishing. You write the book, and then you foot the bill for it to be printed. You're in charge, but it's going to cost you, likely about $5000 for 1000 books. And then you're the one responsible to sell them. Not really a good option unless you do a lot of public speaking and have a natural place to sell them. I've also seen a lot of people rush into self-publishing when they would have benefited more from taking a few years of writer's conferences and courses, and hiring an editor to improve their book. If you're willing to hand over $5000, pretty much anybody will print it. It doesn't mean it's good. If you want it to be good, take the time to invest in yourself so that what you create is really top-notch!

2. Royalty publishing (which is what people normally think of when they think of writing). A company pays you an "advance" to write your book, and then they pay you a little bit everytime somebody buys a copy. Most books you buy in bookstores are like that. A publishing company pays you, and you write the book.

It's not a great way to get rich, because most royalty payments are only about $1 a book. So I have to sell an awful lot of books to make an average income. But if you're really itching to write, and you're wondering how to find such a publisher, the best thing to do is to read my writer's tips, which I have on my website right here. That gives you a heads up on how to write a "book proposal" and how to eventually find a publisher, if you can. It's getting harder these days.

iPad standImage by Veronica Belmont via Flickr

I should say, though, that I often wonder whether the traditional book publishing world is quickly going the way of the dinosaur. I think in the future, most of us will download books, we won't buy them from a store. So perhaps it will be easier to make a living as a writer, because you won't need a traditional publisher to foot the bill. You'll be able to just send people a downloadable copy, which doesn't cost you much money.

But when you're going to the beach, it's a lot nicer to have a book in your hands to read, rather than a computer screen that's going to act all screwy in the sunlight. So there will always be a role for the traditional book, in some capacity.

And that's what I'm counting on as I'm getting these chapters done. So far I've written them all and I'm in the editing stage, but I often find that the hardest. I never know when I'm done. So I've given myself a deadline of Tuesday to get them into my agent and see what he thinks. I'm off next week to teach at a writer's conference anyway, so I've got to get this thing done. Wish me luck! And if you have any particular questions about writing, ask them in the comments, and I'll try to answer them, or create a post that's Q&A about how to start a writing ministry/career!


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At 8:41 AM , Blogger sherri said…

SHeila- you are so generous with your information. Thank you. I've bookmarked so many of your pages that I COULD WRITE YOUR BOOK! ;)
God bless.


At 3:03 PM , Blogger Thou Art Jules said…

My dreams are completely shattered now! :-) just kidding!

Thanks for sharing all of this with us!


At 8:33 PM , Blogger Mary Joy said…

Thank you so much for sharing all of this great information!!! I am bookmarking your blog right now!!! Wow!!! Thanks for sharing the process!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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