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published author

Wrote a book? Hang on, you're not done yet/ by Suzy Soro

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Did you write a book or are you thinking about it? Whether you’re published by the Big 5, an indie publisher, or self-published, there is more work to do after you release it into the wild. Work that is much more tedious than writing it, which is already incredibly tedious. Writing a book turns out to be the easy part.

Let’s review your pre-publication checklist:

1. Make sure your cover, when it’s thumbnail size on all your social media accounts, is readable. Unless Tom Thumb or a Lilliputian is looking at it, no one will be able to decipher your thumbnail except the people in the movie Downsizing. I’ve ignored this directive on both my books and will continue to disregard it because if people are staring at my thumbnail rather than reading my book, I’ve got larger problems.

2. Try and increase your social media accounts. I can hear most of you groaning, but it needs to be done. Publishers are reluctant to take on books if the author doesn’t have a substantial social media presence. Twitter is where I sold the majority of my indie-published book, Celebrity sTalker, and Facebook is where I sold most of my second book, Mommy Tried to Kill Me, which I self-published. While I still post links on Tumblr and Ello, I had to drop LinkedIn when they sent me a notice that my friend Steve had died and asked me to “Congratulate Steve.” I’m guessing their algorithm is stitched together with alcohol and sleeping pills.

3. A great editor is a key to your book’s success. But editors cost money and while you’re waiting for the Prize Patrol to show up at your door with your first check from Publisher’s Clearinghouse, find some beta readers who either teach English, have a Ph.D. in English, or are just know-it-alls. But beware of the know-it-alls as they might try to tell you that you spelled your name wrong. Do not use family, close friends, or people who owe you favors as beta readers. They thought your ugly Christmas sweater was pretty, remember?  I use people I interact with on social media that I’ve never met in real life. I ask them to be brutal and not to spare my feelings, which sometime during the writing of the book have vanished anyway.  

4. Run your manuscript through the online app Grammarly.com. It’s free, but you can update it to a more vigorous and painful version. The painful version may flash these words: 13 critical errors, 21 advanced errors. And while this may also refer to your love life, it will show you where the mistakes in your work stand out. It will also find unoriginal text by checking against a database of over eight billion web pages. The updated Grammarly, at $59 for three months, is a bargain. Say it with me, “Commas are not my friend.”

5. Climb Mount Everest. It’s the same as trying to browbeat people into reviewing your book. You need reviews if you want more sales so begin the quid pro quo with your friends’ books now so that you can hit them up when you publish. Good luck, Sisyphus.

6. Read your manuscript out loud and backward. According to some, it’s easier to catch mistakes this way. I was once stopped for speeding, and the cop asked me to count back from 100 by seven. I laughed because I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t.

7. Keep your day job.

 

Suzy Soro is a writer, standup comedian, and actress. You might have seen her on Seinfeld, in the episode where she got the last chocolate babka, ranked 25 out of all 169 episodes of Seinfeld. Or you might have seen her on Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Larry David calls her an asshole because she refuses to take off her sunglasses when we're inside eating lunch. Suzy has traveled the world doing standup comedy, working for both the USO and MWR, and she toured the United States and Canada with her own comedy group, Single, Married & Divorced. Her first memoir, Celebrity sTalker is about all the Hollywood celebrities she has annoyed over the years. Mommy Tried to Kill Me is her second memoir. Her work also appears in four anthologies, available on Amazon. Follow Suzy on Medium.

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Publishing: Get rich quick? Nope, but there are rewards/ by Carolyn Porter

My book has been out for four months. I’d tell you to envision me sitting poolside at my new fancy mansion, checking an ever-increasing bank balance, but that would be a disservice to both of us. My editor is delighted with sales, and the book has gotten good reviews, but here’s the truth: I didn’t turn into an overnight bajillionaire. Quitting my full-time job is not an option. 

But I have reason to suspect people think otherwise. “Are you going to move?” both my husband and I have been asked. Repeatedly. “You still work?” someone remarked with surprise at a bookstore reading. A half-dozen book clubs have made the assumption I would be available any weekday for a leisurely afternoon gathering. And I’ve received cross-country invitations to speaking events, though the organizations expected me to cover airfare and hotel. It’s as if people believe I am equally flush with cash and free time.

I try to give them slack, though, and answer questions with kindness and transparency. I probably harbored some of those same perceptions before learning the realities of publishing. 

So, let me share a few things I’ve learned these last few months:

Publishing a book is a numbers game. 

In 2015, 338,990 books were published in the United States (new titles or re-editions).* That’s 928 new books every single day of the year. 38.7 new books every hour. One new book every minute and a half. By the time you’ve finished reading this blog post, two more books will have been published. Consider that fact with kindness because each new book represents years of work. Each new book represents an author’s total commitment to that project. It’s tough to compete with so many other titles on the market.

Publishing a book might not change your financial life. In fact, it probably won’t. 

Even in traditional publishing, there are expenses to bringing a book to life. I paid thousands of dollars to a developmental editor, thousands more for promotion, and spent countless hours writing and editing—time that could have been spent pursuing paying client work. And I did all that fully aware of this frightful statistic: the average U.S. nonfiction book sells less than 2,000 copies over its lifetime.**

Publishing a book requires fierce dedication, commitment and sacrifice. 

The writing process, especially while holding a full-time job, requires a complete, give-it-everything commitment to the project. Ready to give up television, time with friends, time working out, cooking for fun, or whatever it is you do for recreation? Writing a book requires hundreds—if not thousands—of hours of time at your desk (and inside your own thoughts) when you might otherwise be doing or focusing on something else.

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Publishing a book requires thick skin. 

I’m still trying to find the vitamin that will help me grow it. Ready for rejection? Multiple rejections in a single day? Ready for every single person you meet to have an opinion about the book’s structure/pace/ending/tone/content/language or cover design? Ready to read breezy reviews written by people who only seem to have a marginal comprehension of the facts of the story? Or those who judge the book against criteria of a different genre? It will happen. But if you keep in mind the reason that compelled you to write the book in the first place, the harsh opinions seem to sting less.

So, if publishing is financially unrewarding and emotionally taxing, why did I write “Marcel’s Letters”? It was important to tell Marcel’s story. I chose to commit time, energy, and money to the project to ensure his story wasn’t lost to time. Even if I never break even on the project, I will tell you it was worth every dollar, every ounce of effort.

Publishing a book has unexpected and delightful rewards.

Along the way, I’ve befriended other writers who are equally committed to telling their stories. I’ve launched myself far outside of my comfort zone. I’ve met passionate readers. I’ve seen both tears and joy (and tears of joy) on people’s faces as they talk about the book. I even received a handwritten note from my Kindergarten teacher congratulating me on writing a book. I’ve been buoyed by unexpected cheerleaders. I’ve gained a sense of satisfaction knowing for a few hours I transported people to a different time and place. I’ve been told I’ve inspired people to write, to design, to pay attention to typography, to think big. 

Do you have a story important to tell? Tell it! Start writing today. Go work on it now. Seriously. Right now. If that story inside of you is so big, so strong, so full of life that it is going to gnaw its way out of you with or without your help, figure out how to make time to write it down. Start crafting a work of literature, not just a number. Start cultivating thick skin. Start believing you can.

*. https://www.statista.com/statistics/248335/number-of-new-titles-and-re-editions-in-selected-countries-worldwide/

**. https://www.bkconnection.com/the-10-awful-truths-about-book-publishing

Carolyn Porter is a graphic designer and self-professed typography geek who designed the font P22 Marcel Script. Released in 2014, the font has garnered four international honors, including juried selections for the 2015 Project Passion exhibition, typeface competitions by Communication Arts and Print magazines, and the prestigious Certificate for Typographic Excellence from the New York Type Director’s Club. The book, “Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate,” recounts Carolyn’s obsessive search to learn whether Marcel Heuzé, a Frenchman conscripted into forced labor during World War II—and whose handwriting provided the inspiration for the font—survived to be reunited with his beloved wife and daughters. Carolyn lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

Carolyn Porter is a graphic designer and self-professed typography geek who designed the font P22 Marcel Script. Released in 2014, the font has garnered four international honors, including juried selections for the 2015 Project Passion exhibition, typeface competitions by Communication Arts and Print magazines, and the prestigious Certificate for Typographic Excellence from the New York Type Director’s Club. The book, “Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate,” recounts Carolyn’s obsessive search to learn whether Marcel Heuzé, a Frenchman conscripted into forced labor during World War II—and whose handwriting provided the inspiration for the font—survived to be reunited with his beloved wife and daughters. Carolyn lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.