As an author I often end up in conversations about writing books. I am very passionate about writing and publishing. The interesting observation that I have made is that there are an incredible number of people out there who want to write a book themselves. So I often give advice and discuss my own publishing experiences.
So in this article I thought I would touch on a few of the most commonly asked questions.
How do you start writing a book?
I sit down and write an outline of the topics that I want to cover and when I am happy with that I go back and fill it in.
How many words are most books?
My books are about 65,000 words and they are about 250 pages.
How long does it take to write?
I write when I am not working so realistically it takes me about 3-4 months to write each book.
Is it easy to get published?
I had a lot of people say to me that I would never get published because there are already heaps of small business advice books. The second publisher to get my manuscript loved it and the rest is history. What publishers are looking for is a good idea, on a reasonably topical subject. Fiction is much harder to get published than non-fiction because it is so speculative – two people read a novel – one loves it and one hates it. I always say that if you have a good idea someone will publish it. Finding a contact in a publishing company helps.
How much do you make?
My royalties are about 10% of what the book sells for. With books sold internationally royalties vary. For example my books are translated into Chinese and I get a higher royalty figure but they only sell for about $5 each. It is unlikely that you will get rich from writing (unless you are Stephen King) but it is certainly nothing to sneeze at. If your book sells well in Australia it is likely to be sold around the world and create a revenue stream for many years to come.
Should I publish a book myself or try to get it published?
If you self publish you pay for everything. Of course you get all of the money as well and if it is a good book, you can make a good return but it is a lot of hard work. Very few self-published books succeed. If you get your book published by a publisher you get a smaller return but you take no risk. They edit the book, print it, market it and collect all the money. At the end of the day it is up to you. I have a few friends who have self published very successfully but they really know the business. There are a lot of garages around Australia with thousands of self-published books stored in them that will never sell.
I hope this answers a few questions for those aspiring authors and publishers. Finally I would like to say that to write a book takes dedication and discipline, but it is one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life. Go for it!
UPDATE – AUTHORS NOTE – MAY 2013
It is interesting for me to be reading this article 6 years down the line. The publishing landscape has certainly changed a lot. Today I am much more of a fan of self publishing than mainstream publishing, for many reasons. The publishing world is dynamic. Technology has changed it forever in terms of delivery systems like ebooks as well as the physical process of producing a physical book. I will leave this article here, but my thoughts have certainly changed. Self publishing, if done right, is now a great option for aspiring and experienced authors alike.