I Love to Write, I Want to be an Author

by Shonali Burke on April 20, 2010

“I love to write, I want to be an author.”

Image: Kathleen Conklin, Creative Commons

Ever thought (or said) that? That’s a very powerful statement; one that is filled with passion.

For me, it’s exciting to hear a fellow woman business owner, entrepreneur, communication peer or even a friend say these words to me.  I know these words can lead to a life-changing experience.

My immediate instinct when I hear this statement is to offer advice and provide guidance on what you need to do if you are really serious about writing a book.

Get Ready: First Answer the Most Important Question

Why do you want to write a book?

If the answer is for fame and fortune then that’s not a good enough answer.  There are hundreds of thousands of authors, and not many of them are J.K. Rowlings, author of Harry Potter, or Stephenie Meyers, author of the Twilight series.

However, there are many excellent authors who have the drive, commitment and passion for their subject matter; those who want to share, instruct, help and/or entertain, but their books do not sell by the millions.

When I decided to write my first book, Cyberbranding for Prentice Hall back in 1999, my goals were:

  • To help people to understand a passionate topic, and
  • To hopefully lead to new business opportunities.

I was happy to learn rather quickly that having a book published led to more credibility in my profession. I remember feeling more confident walking into a boardroom setting with a group of older executives. After sharing my book with them, for the first time I didn’t hear comments such as, “Where are the senior executives on the team?” and, “You look like you’re just out of college.”

I guess I had a baby face, which is great except when you’re trying to win new business. But, having a book to accompany my portfolio said, “experience.”  The book writing propelled me to a new level in my career, no matter how young I looked at the time.

Get Set: What Happens Prior to the Writing Process

There are so many other questions that you need to answer before you actually jump in and start the writing process.

These questions are designed to help you to focus on your subject matter and to aid you in developing the most targeted content for your readers:

  • Who is my audience and what benefit will they receive from reading my book?
  • What is unique about my book; how is it different than the other books in its category?
  • What books are direct competition and what books are indirect competition in the market that may touch on my subject area of expertise?
  • How will this book be distributed?
  • What is this book’s format (hard cover, soft cover, e-book, video book)?
  • How will I promote this book?

Go for It: The Unconventional Publishing Route

These are all very important questions, which are the very questions you’d have to answer if you were pitching your manuscript to a publishing house.  Of course, today you have many different options in the publishing world.

Today, you don’t have to go the traditional publishing route.

I’m an advocate of building social buzz around your e-book to later have a publisher approach you about publishing a longer version of your manuscript.  Ever since reading David Meerman Scott’s book, “The New Rules of Marketing & PR,” I’ve believed that this is an unconventional and very smart way to build visibility and also a large following around your material.

You can obtain feedback on your book by offering it for free in social networks. When the buzz surmounts to levels that you thought you could never achieve, there’s the potential to offer it to the a publishing house with the intent of expanding upon the content.

Exciting Opportunities = Hard Work

Of course, with all the exciting opportunities comes a lot of hard work. I think one of the most difficult parts of writing a book is developing your voice and staying true to that style. If you read Cyberbranding and compared it to my latest book co-authored with Brian Solis, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, you would think that you were reading books by two different authors.

Another challenge for me was the need to perfect every chapter. When you write a book, sometimes you just have to let it go or you will never finish.

Not to mention that the more you hold on to the chapters the more the chances increase that the material will be obsolete by the time it hits the market.

I experienced this scenario with Cyberbranding.  When the book was published, most of the e-brand examples referenced had already gone bankrupt.

There are so many opportunities when you make the commitment to write a book.  But what’s the best reward?

When you’re finished, you see your newly-published manuscript, and even more thrilling than the credibility and/or new business opportunities, is the great personal satisfaction.

Writing a book is giving a piece of yourself to your readers and sharing your passion. So if you love to write, you want to be an author and you understand that exciting opportunities = hard work, then I say, “Get ready, get set and go for it!”

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Guest contributor and PR veteran Deirdre K. Breakenridge is President, Executive Director of Communications at Mango! Marketing, as well as adjunct faculty at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey where she teaches courses on Public Relations and Interactive Marketing for the Global Business Management program. She recently finished her fourth Financial Times business book, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” co-authored by Brian Solis, published in March 2009 and available in major bookstores. A highly-regarded and popular speaker on the topics of PR and social media communications, Deirdre is a past board member of NJ/PRSA and the New Jersey Advertising Club. In 2009, she was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Executive Women. Deirdre is a contributing editor of TechConnect, PRSA’s technology newsletter, blogs about PR 2.0 strategies, and is the co-founder of #PRStudChat, a dynamic Twitter discussion scheduled monthly for PR students, educators and PR pros. Connect with her on Twitter.

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