• Advice

Why you should consider writing a book: Yes, you!

I recently consulted with Freelancers Union member Robert E. McGrath as he self-published his book, What is Coworking?: A Look at the Multifaceted Places Where the Gig Economy Happens and Workers are Happy to Find Community.

I am also working with another client who is a member of Freelancers Union. Like most of the authors that my company works with, these men have decided to share their wealth of expertise with others by writing full-length books.

They are among a growing population of people who are entering into the realm of book writing. Ranging from freelancers and retired professors to social media influencers and self-taught entrepreneurs, book writing is no longer reserved for those who have literary agents or large publishers chasing them down and offering them 6 figure advances.

Book writing now belongs to the people, as it should. And it is one of the reasons why I strongly encourage people to tell their stories or to share their expertise even if writing is not in their wheelhouse. And as most people who have worked with me can attest, my objective isn’t to convert people into clients; instead, it is to preserve the powerful art of storytelling, especially in this day and age of quick tweets and IG posts.

With advances in self-publishing, writing has become more egalitarian, which means that everyone reading this blog has access to platforms that will publish his/her work. So, you may be thinking: Me? Write a book? Why? How?

You have something of value to say, so make the time

One of the best ways to preserve one’s cultural milieu or to share one’s expertise or to introduce one’s ideas and kernels of wisdom to others, especially to complete strangers, is through words.

Unless you plan to hire a ghost writer, the value you place on what you have to say is by far one of the most important factors in determining whether or not you complete your manuscript. Your average 200-page book is 50,000 words. If you factor in life’s responsibilities, it is important that you are realistic about how much time you can consistently dedicate to the writing process.

The antidote to this is being proactive. Realistically, sketch out a writing schedule and give it the same importance and consideration that you would a critical business or personnel endeavor. There is a strong possibility that you already have the baseline content: PowerPoint presentations, blogs, personal notes, best practices material, manuals, etc. This content can be the springboard for a book.

Lastly, it is also helpful if you have an accountability partner who can check in to make sure that you are actually writing and staying on task. Create realistic benchmarks, such as a chapter per month. If you are committed to the process and build in these safety nets, you will have the stamina to write a full-length book.

There is probably an audience for your work

As you think about your book idea and concept, you want to ask: Who am I writing this text for? Beyond your immediate circle of family members, friends, and peers, are you writing about a topic that potential strangers want to read?

It is not vain to think that your narrative (fiction or non-fiction) is worthy of an audience. I firmly believe that most of us are gifted with stories. Our life experiences, expressed through our stories, make us human. Because of this, you would probably be amazed by the diverse book topics and audiences that exist.

If you are really curious, check out the books section on Yes, some of these authors are professional writers, but many of them are not. Some of the books are about serious topics and required years of research and others are lighter hearted. (And some people even use pseudonyms, so if you want to write, but under a pen name, go for it!)

Self-publishing has changed book writing

For better or for worse, self-publishing has changed how we think about authorship. There was a time when publishing a book was an elitist endeavor reserved for professional writers, poets, historians and those who were deemed worthy of the resources and marketing budget of a major publishing company. Often the criteria for publishing was based on the bottom line: Can this person write a profitable book?

The pendulum has swung and although this is still an important question, there are those who have decided to write books not as business endeavors, but because they want to preserve their ideas for posterity’s sake or their thoughts may be too controversial for mainstream presses or their topic may only be of interest to a niche audience. Regardless of the impetus, self-publishing, also known as print on demand, has opened doors that were once closed to many.

Keep in mind that with the amount of stamina, time, creative energy, and financial resources (e.g. editing, typesetting, and book covers) that go into writing a book, it is important that you don’t enter into the space without having a clear sense of what you are getting into. However, you will probably find that book writing can be a deeply rewarding experience and it’s worth the sacrifice.

Because writing is a deeply personal endeavor, only you can decide if you are ready. If so, happy writing!

Tyra Seldon Tyra Seldon is a former English Professor turned writer, editor and small business owner. Her writing addresses the intersections of race, gender, culture and education.