Books and Life – Most articles you read on LEN have been edited or checked by myself. And yes! There will be occasional grammar or spelling issues. No excuse here, there are 1500 articles, with an average of 1200 words per article. That is 1.8 million words over four years. Mistakes will happen.
I’m also a freelance writer. I write books for people and businesses! And these books have word counts between 25 and 100 thousand words. Now, each book will go through four drafts, and two or three proofs before a final proofing by a full-time professional proofreader finalises the book. It is expensive and time-consuming. And the client will often think he’ll make changes or spot spelling and grammar mistakes during a ‘fact check’ or ‘time-line’ draft. At this stage, they’ll bring in a ‘friend’ who’ll make suggestions and spot the faults.
I’ll let you into a secret: I never take any notice of the friend or experts! They’ll have another job, work in an office, may have a degree in sociology: whatever. But they know little about the process of writing and publishing a book. I say ‘Thank you for the input and go back to the original draft: although, I DO follow the fact check and time-line aspects, which is all I asked about in the first place, never once have they picked up on the fact I took no notice of their ‘inept proofreading’!
This morning I received a payment for a book written over lockdown. After reading a copy of the final manuscript I see the proofreader has made a good number of changes. I’m not here to question the ability of the publisher’s chosen proofer (brilliant by the way): sometimes we bow to expertise and learn from their wisdom. In the same vein, I’m happy to produce works which the publishers want, in the style they desire, and in a genre which they know sells. Self-publishing does not have these constraints: and this is why the self-produced book may not be as successful as one would hope.
Writing a book is a paradox: easy to do – challenging to do well. And when someone says’s ‘Everyone has one book in them’. I know this is true: however, the question is ‘How many are interested in the book?’ The answer to an unknown author is: ‘Not as many as one would believe’ – For example: to be a number one seller in the ‘spiritual genre’ would only need 10000 sales worldwide. Compare this to the millions of H.Potter books, and you’ll get the idea.
If you are considering writing and self-publishing a book: you’ll need to monopolise on the book: this will mean giving talks and investing money in promotion after going to print. And for every 100 invested in advertising: you’ll have to sell over thirty books to cover the expense, another problematic fact to reason with: indeed it may be the best reason not to write the text in the first place.
From the 1920s to the late ’90s, there was a way to see work in print. It was called ‘vanity publishing’. Writers saved or borrowed thousands of pounds and employed a vanity publishing house to print their manuscript. Many people believe this was a cruel way of businessmen to monopolise on the vanity of poor writers. And to an extent they were (and still are) right. Although, my feeling is vanity publishing was and is an excellent expression of fortitude. The author may say: ‘So what? If the publisher doesn’t like my work! I’ll publish myself and prove them wrong’. And I like the idea: why not tap out a book and put it up on Kindle? You only need one person to love or loath it, but you have sold the text: you are a fully paid-up member of the book writers happy squad. No one can take this away from you. I’m not interested in the intellectual or know-all know-nothing who comments: ‘Self publishing is not being published’. The reason is: they most often have never written a short story, let alone a book.
Some years ago we could buy an eating out guide written by Egon Ronay. Many say he changed the eating habits of a nation. So what! He was failed restauranteur. And millions of people flocked to eateries he liked, and he bankrupted those he demeaned: and some would have learned and prospered. Ronay stole their potential, even though he was a failed chef himself. Let’s see how critics can be so way off: Egon did not like fish and chips: and yet, the majority of restaurants in his books are long gone, and fish and chip shops he demeaned are now in the hands of the third generation of owners. Forget the critic: they are as much use as an empty chip wrapper.
I mention critics because many don’t write because they are afraid of what people may say about the finished book. If you are going hit the keys, then do it and be proud to have spent hundreds of hours and sometimes hundreds of pounds to say ‘I did that’. I write thousands of words (5000 today) and I write because it is my happiness: there is no genius here: but there is immense psychological reward.
Consider this: Writing a book is comparable to the life experiences and lessons. One is: if you do ‘something’ and work every hour to make the ‘something’ excel. It is possible, no probable: you’ll not be as committed the second time around. Unless you reflect upon the end result and the process of the attainment. The suggestion is to take two or three years drafting and writing a masterpiece and see how you feel after the book is finished. And then take a year to think about the next one. A Year? Yes: because you may discover the promotion of the book is more demanding than the writing. It is the same in life lessons: we can take years to learn and hone a skill (kindness, happiness, professional attainment) and recognition for the dedication comes decades later.
Take this further: Your life is a book: you script every day: make mistakes and review previous chapters. Sometimes an expert or mentor may help with a defining moment: and an episode is complete. Once the book is written, and the press has finished its work, you’ll be judged by the covers and most will only read a chapter or two. Of those who read the book: some will choose to highlight the best parts of the story and others the failings. At the last garrison, your book of life will be placed in the library of history. Few will reread one sentence, and in two generations, the content of the book is forever lost or forgotten.
Write your life experience with care.
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