So You Want to Write a Book? My Best Advice

I don’t usually write about writing, but I am a member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild, and I submitted a post for their blog, which is all about writing. Here’s the beginning, with a link to the Redbud blog, where you’ll find countless other posts about writing if you’re so inclined…

About ten years ago I mentioned to someone “the list of books I want to write when I retire.” She looked at me and said, “You know, don’t you, that most people don’t have a list of books they want to write when they retire?” It was news to me.

Her comment came as a part of a growing realization that I wanted to write, and I wanted to write non-fiction books in particular. So I got started. The first book was an attempt to explain Christianity. I typed about 50 pages in and then abandoned it. The second was a memoir about getting to know my mother-in-law as she faced a cancer diagnosis. I finished that one, but never looked for a publisher. (That’s another, long, story, but the self-published book that resulted from it is Penelope Ayers.) The third, A Good and Perfect Gift, was a memoir about coming to receive our daughter Penny, who has Down syndrome, as a gift. With the third, I finally had an agent, a proposal, and a lot of interest from editors at publishing houses. And yet, over the course of the spring and summer of 2009, I received no after no after no. We couldn’t find a publisher because I didn’t have a platform. I was a no-name author with a hard-to-market story.

And so I started a blog. At first, it seemed like eating my spinach, something I had to do in order to achieve the long-term goal of writing books. I worried I would run out of things to write about. I worried no one would read it. I worried about exposing my family to the netherworld of cyberspace. But I couldn’t think of any other way to prove to the marketing teams at publishing houses that I would indeed have an audience for a book.

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