When asked how long it took me to write a specific book, I answer something like, “Two years and a lifetime.” The quantity of time in such a project is not measurable. So much of who I am, what I’ve learned, and my personal experiences contribute toward every work.
It’s not unusual for me to contemplate a book for many years before actually hitting the computer to put it into words. I begin by researching a topic to see if credible data and resources are available, there is enough substance for a book rather than an article, I’m personally interested and passionate about the topic, and I find there is a potential readership to invest so much into it.
The next step is to dive into the research. Information is gathered from credible resources and people who are personally involved. This phase can be quite lengthy. I tend to over-research because I am looking for the information to stand up over multiple sources. Ensuring that I have the whole story is also a concern. I don’t always know what I need until I start putting the pieces together.
Then I sort the information into categories. This usually forms the outline of my book. Those categories become chapters. All pieces must contribute toward the whole story.
Writing and rewriting is another step that varies greatly in the amount of time required. Most books evolve through constant rewriting. This can occur over years, especially if the topic is complicated. However, a couple of my books seemingly wrote themselves. The Rosary Prayer by Prayer and Navigating Alzheimer’s were like that. A natural flow moved through me relatively quickly. I believe that is when I am allowing the Spirit to lead.
Once a book is ready to submit to a publisher, the waiting game begins. This part can take years. Editors need to get to the manuscript. Their desks are piled high with submissions, so I have to wait until mine rises to the top of the stack. If it isn’t of interest to the editor, my manuscript is returned, which requires me to submit to another publisher and start this step over.
If the editor is interested in my manuscript, this editor passes it around to other editors and the publisher at that company. If all are in agreement, they offer a contract and the book gets scheduled for publication. This may be up to two years or more depending on the publisher’s budget and schedule, availability of editors to edit, the number of times the manuscript moves from me to editor and back, the time for the designer to complete the interior layout and cover, and the printer’s response in printing the book.
Once a book is in print, the work to make the public aware of its existence really begins. Promotion continues throughout the life of the book. This is done by word-of-mouth, social media, print ads, publicity, presentations, and book signings.
Hopefully, the book’s life is long and has a topic that can be updated and revised over time with snowballing momentum. This has been the way with The Rosary Prayer by Prayer and Grieving with Mary. Both of these books have newly been revised.
The greatest advantage of digital publishing is the ability to update each time a book goes to print, and books go to print more often today. We no longer need to print in large quantities. Books such as Navigating Alzheimer’s, which has gone to print at least three times in its first year, can include necessary research and statistics that is always current. This ensures its relevancy for decades.
My suggestion is if you have a desire to write a book, understand that the book is a reflection of you for decades, if not the remainder of your life. The more you invest from the beginning and throughout its existence, the more it will bring you satisfaction and success.
And be realistic. Competition is great and royalties are minuscule. Your book is out there with hundreds of thousands of others. Making yours stand out takes a combination of relevant content, superior writing, excellent editing, continuous promotion, and a lot of luck.May that combination be yours.
©2016, Mary K. Doyle