Want to write a book? Join the club. Surveys say more than 80 percent of people want to write be published authors. The reasons are many and varied. You may just want to share what you know about a particular health, fitness, or nutrition topic with the world. Or you may want to promote your medical practice, speaking, consulting, or marketing business. Or maybe you want to quit your day job and write full time. Anyone can write a book for any reason. How you go about getting it published, though, depends on your reasons and goals.
Let’s say you want to write a book to help establish you as an authority for your consulting or training business or medical practice. Or maybe you market health products and want to spread the word with your book. If this is your goal, it matters less who you get to publish your book, or even whether you self-publish and market it yourself. If you want to self-publish your book, you can simply write it, set up a website to sell it as an e-book, and/or sell print on demand (POD) copies that you can have printed from a reliable service. Doing all the work yourself will take a considerable investment in time, probably more than you think. (More about self-publishing books, booklets, and e-books later.)
On the other hand, if you’re trying to prove your chops as a professional writer, or need the validation or support of an established publisher, they will take on a large part of the work and the bigger chunk of the profits for their efforts. But having your book commercially published presents a few more hurdles, starting with writing a detailed book proposal. There’s a bit of a learning curve involved here, too, so here are a few resources for learning how the book publishing industry works.
1. Read books on freelance writing. You’ll find plenty of good freelance writing books available online that will help you get the feel of what the writing life is all about, plus you’ll find out details and tips of the trade. One of the best of all time: On Writing Well by William Zinsser.
2. Browse books on book publishing. A few good ones:
- Thinking Like Your Editor, by Susan Fortunato and Alfred Rabiner
- Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody can Write, by Elizabeth Lyon
- Book Proposals That Sell: 21 Secrets to Speed your Success, by W. Terry Whalin
- Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, by Jeff Herman & Deborah Adams
- Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book, by Susan Page
2. Subscribe to industry news Publisher’s Marketplace will give you the gauge on which publishers are buying what titles, from which writers represented by which agents, with links to more information. Also, check out Publishers Weekly, the leading industry trade journal. Subscriptions aren’t cheap, but your local library might carry it.
3. Consider taking an online writing course. Freelance Success often features e-courses by successful published writers. They also offer an affordable membership forum that is quite active, and many writers find freelance assignments via tips from other writers on this list and from the weekly reports (I have many times).
4. Consider attending writers conferences. The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has a good one held annually, usually in April. But you can buy CDs or an MP3 of all the conference sessions and workshops.
Now you’re ready to get started down the long road to book publication. Writing and polishing your proposal is the first step. Then you’ll want to hire an agent to submit and sell the proposal to book editors. (An agent can also hellp you find a collaborator.) Once a publisher bites, your agent and publisher will negotiate the publishing agreement.
Only then will you actually begin writing your book.
Happy Health Writing,