Friday, May 20, 2011


by Katherine Swarts

Ready to write your first book?

More power to you.

Ready to live in luxury from the royalties?

Time for a reality check.

I won’t waste space with a lot of statistics on how hard it really is to make money writing. That approach is not only boring and negative, it’s futile.

Everyone who conceives the perfect book expects to be the exception to the rule, the one whose genius is immediately recognized and rewarded.

Actually, the apparent “exceptions” are those writers who mix plenty of hard work with their talent—from the beginning onward. No one ever creates a perfect first draft. Don’t take my word for it; ask authors who’ve been selling books for twenty years. And ask those successful authors how many editors rejected their early manuscripts; how many times they rewrote their first books after acceptance; and how much time they still spend sending out press releases and sitting at sparsely visited book-signing tables. No, the publisher won’t “take care of everything.” If a book’s own creator doesn’t care enough to work at popularizing it, why should anyone else?

If you’re not discouraged yet, that in itself is a sign you may have what it takes. There are many resources on the specifics involved (try and to start), but here are a few key points for key stages:

* Idea: Research why the public (not just your immediate circle) would read this book.
* Proposal: Read editorial guidelines! An amazing number of writers send fiction manuscripts to nonfiction publishers.
* Writing/editing: Get the first draft down as quickly as you like, but edit the whole thing at least three times: once for consistency of details; once for smooth flow; and once for typo-free text.
* Selling to the public: Send press releases to your local paper, the trade journals, your college’s alumni newsletter. Create a Web site and e-newsletter. Print business cards and bookmarks. Remember: even a published book won’t sell itself.
Unless you’re already famous, in which case thousands of people will buy a collection of breakfast-menu tweets if your name’s on the cover. But in that case, you wouldn’t have to bother reading “how-to” blogs.

Katherine Swarts - Margaret Swarts
Katherine Swarts is a professional copywriter and journalist, founder and owner of Spread the Word Commercial Writing in Houston, Texas. Spread the Word is certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.

Since 1993, Katherine has published over 50 articles in numerous periodicals, including Carus Publishing's Appleseeds, Faces, andOdyssey; Children's Writer (on which see comments in next paragraph); and Christian Home & School. She has also prepared two anthologies for Thomson Gale.

Katherine has a bachelor's degree in English from Austin College in Sherman (TX), and a master's degree in written communications from Wheaton (IL) Graduate School. She has also studied with the Institute of Children's Literature, which publishes the monthly newsletter Children's Writer; two annual market guides; and an annual writer's yearbook.


  1. Such valuable advice! Great post. :)

  2. Great post, Joylene! Your points are all true ones.

    Thanks again for stopping by my blog!

  3. @Thanks, Amanda. I love what Katherine has to say. And she always seems to capture some new way of seeing things. Thanks for stopping by.

    @Hi Lauren. I'm glad you enjoyed Katherine's post. She's a great source of commonsense information.
    Have a great weekend.

  4. Thank you, Susanne. Hope your weekend is great.

  5. Great post with great advice. It's not an easy path to travel, but there is a path!

  6. Yes, a path. Hi Kittie. Have a wonderful Sunday.

  7. Katherine's advice is spot on. we need all the help and staying power we can get. Glad I stopped by.


  8. Glad you did too, Denise. Have a wonderful weekend.

  9. Um...okay, so I'm still not discouraged. LOL.

    Do you want to know just how much I am NOT into the money end of it all? Never was?

    When I received my contract and was reading it, I got to the section where it required me to advise how I wanted to be paid. I kidding...smiled SO big and shouted to myslef, "OMG. That's right! I'm getting PAID for this!"

    I really, truly, truly only wrote because I loved it, not to be a best seller...or to even get paid! LOL...

  10. Carol, you are too wonderful. The money section was the first place I looked. I was so looking forward to cheques! Yay. It meant it was true, I was going to be a published writer AND to prove it -- they were gonna pay me!


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