I could give credit for this idea to the author of one of those self-publishing how-to books that are constantly being discussed in the Minion Cafeteria. (“Is this a scam? Does it have anything new? What does an author whose bestselling book is ranked at twenty-bazillion on Amazon know about how to write a million-seller anyway?”) That would be giving that author too much credit. But he did get me thinking.
I’ve had an idea for a non-fiction book kicking around for some time now. The elevator pitch would be “What I wish I’d known before starting my book review blog with a little bit of what I’m glad I figured out in advance thrown in for good measure.” At one point I even did an outline and roughed out a few chapters. But then I experienced something that I’d bet many of you are familiar with. Other obligations got in the way. The day job. The websites I run in my “spare time.” Posts for IU. Family. Political arguments on Facebook. Naps. A guy has to prioritize, right?
Then in a discussion with Kat she mentioned that the archives of IU were skimpy in two areas.
The first is anything to do with non-fiction. Scanning the list of IU contributors and their books I saw a few who had written non-fiction. Melissa Bowersock has a biography. Mr. Pish really took those trips, and both Martin Crosbie and Melinda Clayton have some non-scammy, self-publishing, self-help books that are more than worthwhile. Shawn Inmon has a couple of memoirs (and I personally think Rock and Roll Heaven is a real place and that they’ve got a hell of a band). But the focus of most is fiction, both in their books and their articles.
Then we have the issue of experience. Specifically, they all have it. Me, not so much. In the comments of one of Shawn Inmon’s posts, Kevin McLaughlin mentioned a million words as the point where an author might move out of the novice category. (I’ve seen this number cast as someone’s estimate of the word count needed to put in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours which as this article explains, is commonly misunderstood.) And while I claim not to be a writer, I just did a quick estimate and came up with a conservative count of 300,000 words I’ve had published over the last 13 or 14 years between various websites and magazines. (Yes, I’m shocked and questioning my math skills.) So while I’m well shy of a million words, I guess I don’t qualify as a rank beginner. However, I’m also guessing there is a difference between writing a 300-word review, a thousand-word blog post, or a couple thousand words for a magazine article when compared to writing a book that runs 50-100,000 words. I’m sure my discoveries during this process will show plenty of inexperience, naiveté, and overall cluelessness to satisfy the newbie audience.
So the idea is we’ll go the cliché one better and kill three birds with one stone. I’ll have some posts about the experience that discuss things I discover that might be helpful for new authors. (Those more experienced can laugh at me, which provides a different kind of value.) Along the way I’m bound to stumble on some subjects unique to non-fiction that will be fodder for more articles. (Maybe I’ll even be able to write a post that I can sneak in the book with a disclaimer about originally appearing at Indies Unlimited in a “slightly different form.”) Finally, the last bird gets killed by making this an obligation. I can’t write about an experience unless I have it and I’ll include at least a brief status which will hopefully demonstrate some progress. So my choice is less naps or a major fail in public. I think that’s what the self-help gurus call accountability. All in an ongoing series. I’m open for series naming suggestions.
Concurrently with this, Cathy Speight and I will be doing another series which you might have already seen. If it seems like I’m paying more attention to that one than this one, I’ll bet you can figure out what to do. A little public shaming is bound to make a difference.
So all you experienced authors out there, I’m ready for advice.
27 thoughts on “You’re Going to Write What? – Part 1 – The Introduction”
Good luck and keep writing.
I’ll look forward to those.
Should be good for a little comic relief, Yvonne. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.
You are right about the skimpiness with nonfiction. As a traditionally published nonfiction writer with a good agent, I sometimes feel like a left-out minority here. That said, I’ve learned a lot and value most of what I see here at IU. I will probably explore self publishing with another book I’ve been working on for years I’m lucky enough to have had lots of interesting experiences that give me fodder for my writing. I’m probably around 100,000 words published with 2 books and several dozen magazine and newspaper articles, but I will keep plugging away. My last book only had 30,000 words but has 100+ color photographs. I think there are 1,000,000 words of nonfiction inside of me and I get new experiences I want to write about on a regular basis. I’d love to see more posts about the nonfiction side of writing.
Thanks for the comment, Richard. There’s obviously a lot of overlap between fiction and non-fiction in some aspects of the writing and publishing business. In other areas, not so much. Hopefully some of the things I figure out through this adventure will be helpful to you and others.
Oh no, you’re not really going to write my unauthorized biography, are you?
That’s book two, but I have an email authorizing it. (We’ll just advertise it as unauthorized as a marketing ploy.)
Sounds like a grand adventure, Al. Good luck!
I see this book you keep talking about is actually in the process of becoming a reality some day! I thought you were just full of hot air. 😀 Of course the title of a non-fiction book on writing and publishing has to be BigAl Bloviates About What He Thought He Knew. Even though I don’t review much non-fiction, I would gladly review this for you. I am sure this will be quite an adventure. Good luck. 😀
You’re such a rabble-rouser, ?wazi, :p
I’m looking forward to the book!
Fantastic, Leland. Thanks. 🙂
You write it, Al, I’ll review it. I’ll be gentle. I promise. 😉
Hmm. I’m not sure if people clamoring to review a book still part way through the rough draft is a normal indie author experience. For some reason, it is making me nervous. 🙂
Thanks for the comment, Shawn.
Always happy to provide a bit of… incentive. 😀 Go Big Al!
Thanks, AC. I think. :/
Good stuff, Big Al … Have you considered “Did I really do that?”
Thanks, Jim. That’s one to ponder.
I held to the 1,000,000 words rule and didn’t publish until right before I hit that mark and I’m glad I waited. The first 1,000,000 words aren’t super bad, they’re just not my genuine and unique voice. Now that I have my writing voice, I can alter it to varying genres easily and still have it be me, whereas before I found myself trying to fit into some mold of how the story should sound based on what I’d read. This was just my journey and I love hearing other writers paths, glad that every one of us has a unique one to share. Can’t wait to see the next articles!
Thanks for the comment, Jules. I think I’ve found my voice, but it is too verbose and can be overly snarky. There is a reason ?wazi suggest a title that starts “BigAl Bloviates …” 🙂
Go, BigAl! And naps ARE part of a writer’s tool kit.
Cool, Laurie. I guess I was doing that right and didn’t realize. 🙂
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