By now our regular readers understand what this blog is about. We’re here to encourage all writers, from beginners to journeymen, to make use of every venue available to promote themselves. Several of our recent posts have dealt with the emergence of e-books, a platform we strongly believe will become the norm in the near future. Whether you agree with that assessment or not, it’s important to point out that regardless of what publication method you choose, you must present a quality product to your reader.
That, of course, has been the focus of the negativity regarding self publishing for years—that anyone can self-publish a book. It’s a valid argument. As a judge for a national self-publishing contest, I’ve seen hundreds of books that will never be read by more than a handful of people. Not because they aren’t good ideas or stories, but because they are poorly written.
Think of writing as you would any other task. You have to do the prep work. When I painted my bathroom last month, I had to scrape off a lot of the old paint, after which I found numerous cracks in the plaster that also needed repairing. A big chunk on the ceiling just broke away. So I gathered the tools I would need for the job (paint scraper, flat sander, joint compound, primer, and moisture resistant paint) and set about fixing the problem. It took a lot more time than I had originally anticipated, but the end result looks pretty darn good.
With writing, our prep work entails honing our craft. And make no mistake, writing is a craft. We must understand and be able to implement the basic concepts of storytelling: scene, structure, dialogue, theme, point-of-view. All of these elements must work together to move our stories forward in a smooth, non-intrusive fashion. In non-fiction, knowledge of your subject is key. I spent three years researching basketball for Hoop Lore, and I was already quite informed on the topic, having followed the NBA for most of my life. After gathering literally thousands of pages of information, I had to organize it all into a storyline that other fans would enjoy reading. The same was true for Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon and the American Dream. We can’t just throw a bunch of information together and call it a book. Not if we expect anyone else to read it.
So learn your craft and hone your skills. Share your story with other writers (not family members or friends!) and ask for their honest opinion. Edit accordingly. Rewrite and rewrite again. Make sure your book is the best it can possibly be before you present it to potential readers. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your readers.