Occasionally, someone shows up at my work desk or drops by my email in-box to ask if I would read his or her manuscript and offer feedback, presumably just for kicks.
They want to know if their work is any good, if commas are in the right places, how much it will cost to get their story between covers, and several other things besides. Because I know exactly where they’re coming from, I’m genuinely touched that they ask me to help with their treasured projects.
But there are problems.
If I agree to give someone’s work a read, it can get awkward fast. What if I don’t think the story is ready? Everyone wants an honest opinion until it’s not what they hoped to hear.
What if their work is full of mistakes?
What if the writing is pretty good? Then it would be hard to keep from marking up the copy, correcting issues we all have despite our best efforts: typos, transposition of words, overused phrases. Then I’d be hooked, feeling the need to explain my markings, discuss unclear sentences and yes, become a part of their publishing journey.
So what I do is politely say no.
I spend too many hours on the computer now – at the newspaper, at home spinning blogs and maintaining my writing platform, keeping up with friends via emails and Facebook. But I don’t spend as many hours as I could, or even long to – coming up with programs to supplement as well as encourage my own new territory, contacting possible program hosts, and on and on.
That’s not to mention that some nights I would like to turn on the tube and mindlessly sew my outdoor cushions, or pursue other things. Even clean the woodwork, just do regular-life stuff, you know?
Bottom line: If I’m caught up in other writers' projects, just for kicks, where’s the time for my own?
But that's not the end of the story ...
At the encouragement of a marketing professional who works with the public and with a library, last summer I put together a presentation about self-publishing. I gave it a pilot run at the Brookville library some months ago and things went well. Also, the librarian gave it her endorsement.
I’m not an expert, and I don't play one on TV. I don’t have all the answers. Those are the exact points. You don’t have to be an expert or have all the answers to get your beloved book into print. We live at a wondrous time when we can actually put our words and thoughts and heart and art out there and see where it ends up.
My program unpacks where and how to get started, aspects of this journey to consider that would-be authors perhaps haven’t thought about (such as the fact that with a book in print, bam! You own a business). I also absolutely recommend that if you publish a book, you plan to allow at least a year after publication to dote on and devote to your book in your spare time. After all, if you are going to go to all the effort and cost to get it out there, don’t you want to give it your best shot? And making back your expenses (and more) would be nice, would it not?
All that is to invite you to So You Want to Publish a Book, a free workshop at the Fishers Library from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. March 29, 5 Municipal Drive, Fishers, Indiana. The library asks that you register to attend at: hepl.lib.in.us or call 317-579-0307.
You see, I actually enjoy helping people with this journey. I just can't do it for everyone on a personal basis, or devote long periods of time to other people's book projects just for fun. So we're making an evening of it.
The first hour is a crash course in the process of self-publishing. Divisions include finding a company and how it works, becoming a business owner, thoughts on marketing, and rewards. Then we’ll allow an hour for questions and brainstorming. At the end, you’ll go home with a handout containing some of the resources we’ve discussed.
If you are anywhere near Fishers, and self-publishing interests you, maybe I’ll see you then. If you are in another part of Indiana and would be interested in the program, consider mentioning it to your librarian, writers' group, or other organization. I’d be happy to speak with your program chairs about coming in. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I anticipate we'll have a great evening together.