Thursday, 22 April 2010

On Becoming a Bestseller (4)

Books! Lots of books! Lots of books that people want to buy. That's what these series of writings are about. Have you missed the past lessons? Here are the links (Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3). In this session, I want us to focus on the reason why you want to write a book (quite distinct from the reason why you write at all, as you will soon see).

So, why do you want to write and publish a book? Surely, it is the dream of every writer to have their name on the front of a printed book. This dream happened for me 21 years ago. I wrote Sharing the Word of God at the age of 18 and published before my 20th birthday. However, sooner or later, every writer will acknowledge that having their name (and picture) on the cover of a book is not enough reason for publishing a book. The novelty soon wears out. Good reason, but not enough reason.

Many writers have a burning message in their heart that they want to share with others. Some have an exciting story they want others to read. They then go on to do what many have done before them - write a book. I did too. Two years after my first book, a compelling message about revival in the church stirred in my heart and went on to write two books (Rediscovering God and Revival in the Desert). I wrote other things too, mainly newsletters. And that's a clue right there. With the emergence of internet technology, social networking and modern DIY desktop publishing software, a burning message can be communicated to your target audience without breaking the bank. Do you have a blog like this one? Do you communicate regularly via your FB page? What about starting an e-letter? The point here, one of many, is that a burning message, lessons from personal experience, an inspirational poem - you can share these with people easily and cheaply through others means other than producing a book.

Am I then discouraging writing a book? Far from it! My fourteenth book will soon be released, The Shift of A Lifetime. I help writers all the time. However, I now want to help writers produce bestsellers and not just produce a book. I hope you can see the difference. That a book is produced and placed in shops does not mean it is or will become a bestseller. Even, that a book is published by a 'big' traditional publisher (or nowadays, a print-on-demand publisher) does not mean it will become a bestseller. There are many more factors that contribute to a book becoming a bestseller, factors I've had to learn the hard way. I don't want you to make my mistakes hence the reason for these lessons.

Turning a manuscript into a book is not an inexpensive venture. So, before you dash off to the printers, count your costs very well. Have you done your homework diligently? Is this a potential bestseller? At the end of the day, you want a return on the costs you incur, don't you? And by the way, if one of the reasons why you want to produce a book is to generate another income stream, then you definitely need to learn the few things I have learnt in more than 20 years of producing books. Don't be like some who write something, produce a book and rely heavily on the launching day to recoup some of their 'investment'. Usually, these kind of books do not make an impact beyond the launching day. Writing for some continuous, residual cash return is not a bad idea, but you have to be really good to pull it off - not just in your writing but also in working through the factors that turn writings into bestselling books.

The noble reason for writing a book, in addition to the ones above, is that there is something inside you that others need to know about. A passion. A perspective. A cause. A story. If it is meant for many people in this generation and generations to come, then you should write a book. If it will change lives, even a life, then writing a book is worth the effort. If it is likely to do so well and raise some finance for a cause (and for you too, of course!), then write, write and don't stop writing until the book is complete. However, I beseech you, don't learn the hard way, the way most authors learn, the way I learnt; there is more to a book becoming a bestseller than just sending a manuscript to a printer (or a publisher).

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Have any questions? Please write me. I want to help many people become bestselling authors. For now, I will continue to write these articles. In the future, more help will flow out of this well for writers. Keep drinking!


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