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 Post subject: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:44 pm 
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I can't count how many times I have been told that I should write a book about myself and my life experiences. Lately I have been giving it a lot of thought. But I don't know the first thing about how to accomplish something like that. I've started keeping a notebook with ideas in it so I don't forget them and can go back and start elaborating on them. But I haven't actually put pencil to page yet.

Should I just start writing and see how far I get and then try to send it to publishers?
Should I pitch my story to publishers and see what they think?
Should I stop thinking about this because it's impossible?
Will I be a success and have a movie made about me?

Has anyone ever written a book? That seems like a major accomplishment to me and I can't see myself being that accomplished at anything.

Does anybody want to read about a girl from NJ who has had a tumultuous life and overcome various obstacles and now has a boring normal American life?

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:55 pm 
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I don't know if you should write a book, but you should try to get an agent rather than sending your book directly to publishers.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:02 pm 
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I get told the same thing often enough because circumstantially, I've had an interesting and maybe a different life. I think anyone's life is worthy of a book, pretty much, because a book that's well-written and especially with a unique perspective can make any story fresh and interesting. I say you should start writing and see how far you get before involving others (i.e., publishers, etc.) Maybe send chapters out as creative non-fiction pieces to see if editors of journals or mags are receptive to the material. Sometimes, they may even give you very valuable feedback.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:10 pm 
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I'm going to say no. If you really wanted to write a book, you'd be doing it already. If you're not motivated to do it, you won't succeed.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:49 pm 
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Salon posted a very non-idealistic article about being an author.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:07 pm 
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That is rough! I cant imagine dropping everything in my life to focus on one thing. You would have to love it and not care about the outcome to do that.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:09 pm 
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I want to read your book! I'll happily be your cheering section if you want one.

I have no experience with selling books though, so I'm no help there. As far as the writing though, my friend is a published poet (he has 2 books out) and he sets time aside for writing, but has a very busy full life doing other stuff too (like training for marathons), so it is doable - don't get put off by one author's experience, you can make it work!

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:31 am 
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Yeah, I liked that article but it's not surprising or anything. That's what it takes to write a book methinks and that's the risk you take with every one: potentially years of work that one may well never get paid for, words that may never get to see the light of day, a book that might get rejected time and again by publishers and so on. If you can sign up for that possibility and still want to write, then you're probably writing for the right reasons and the ongoing rejections won't crush you. I had an around fourteen-page short story that I worked on for two years (not exclusively, but still--from first draft to sending out stage was two years) and it was rejected by everyone who saw it and I have retired it for now but I STILL love the idea of it and one day plan to re-work it because I think that's all it will take--a complete overhaul--I picked the wrong narrative tack and focuses in it and it needs a re-do and re-envisioning. What if the same thing happens when you write a full-length novel? I think that's the flaw in a lot of novels that get junked. They have a lot of promise in terms of plot, character, whatnot, just the narrative perspective doesn't do it justice and that's the first and most important decision you'll make when you embark on a writing project. I've heard of writers working on something for six months before they found the correct way "into the story" so to speak or the ideal approach to tell it. Sometimes you have to be working with the material for a while to find that tack, but that's part of the writerly craft and I don't consider it a waste of time or anything. That's how you find the way in and it's very much part of the process.

I also agree very much with Tofulish that you HAVE to set aside time for writing if you want to accomplish anything. You can make it work but it takes time and dedication and enjoy the journey and forget about rewards, forget about your prospective audience. Let publishers worry about audiences, I don't think writers should worry about that. Also, I would never give up my day job and I certainly don't ever expect to strike it rich. I consider my success to be in creating a piece that pleases me and that can perhaps bring pleasure or a moment of insight or entertainment or a new perspective to someone else who might read it. I work and write daily and it's part of my lifestyle, like sleeping or breathing.

I would just take the first step and start writing and see where it goes. To say you'll write a book is so daunting. Why not just say you'll write a chapter and if you like it you'll continue and so on. Like a squirrel collecting nuts, you should have a book at some indeterminate point in the future if you keep at it that way. <3

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:19 am 
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Yes! Write a book! Even if only two people ever read it, the writing process itself is worth it. Even if you never finish your book, sometimes it's good to just get pieces of it on paper. If you finish it and someone wants to publish it, great. If you finish it and you decide to self-publish instead, that's also great. If you finish it and hide it under your mattress till you die...awesome, someone will find it and you'll become a posthumous legend. You never know. I bet a lot of people would like to read your book about a "normal" girl from NJ. I would definitely read your book. Or your zine. Or your semi-autobiographical novella.

And guess what? Your notebook with ideas in it totally counts as putting pencil to page. So you've already started writing it. Just keep on writing stuff down, flesh it out as it feels ready to be fleshed out. The more you do this, the more you'll start to find out what you want to say in your book and what your voice is like in this context.

I'm in a similar kinda place with my writing at the moment, so if you want to talk more about it and be of support to each other, let me know!

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:38 am 
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I've def written on and off my whole life. But always for fun. I have no idea how to formally construct a book. The literary world is out of my realm. I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger and had some published. And I have written informal ideas of what my book would be like over the years. Some I have shared with others and some is sitting in a word document somewhere. I will not ever attempt to write a fiction novel. I suppose that my writing comes off as a how to or self help style book more than anything else.

Lately I have really been thinking of how I can help teens overcome their shitty situations. I remember being young and thinking that the world sucked and I wanted to die. And when you are young you have no perspective. Now of course I realize that life is worth living and the circumstances you were born into don't have to define you. I would love to travel around the world talking to teenagers and help them realize that no matter what is going on now they will make it out ok!

The whole J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Meyer thing about just writing these epic novels from out of thin air is really interesting to me though! I never knew anything about JK until I watched her on Oprah and heard about her personal story. I was just blown away and amazed that she created the world of Harry Potter one day on a bus ride through London. She has an amazing story!

Thanks guys! PPK advice is always stellar.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:22 am 
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GraciaKai wrote:
The whole J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Meyer thing about just writing these epic novels from out of thin air is really interesting to me though! I never knew anything about JK until I watched her on Oprah and heard about her personal story. I was just blown away and amazed that she created the world of Harry Potter one day on a bus ride through London. She has an amazing story!

It's very interesting and rarer than winning zillions in the lottery methinks for a writer to create such a worldwide phenomenon. Whoever wrote the Hunger Games should probably be counted among them since that seems to be the latest sequel movie thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:28 am 
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seitanicverses wrote:
GraciaKai wrote:
The whole J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Meyer thing about just writing these epic novels from out of thin air is really interesting to me though! I never knew anything about JK until I watched her on Oprah and heard about her personal story. I was just blown away and amazed that she created the world of Harry Potter one day on a bus ride through London. She has an amazing story!

It's very interesting and rarer than winning zillions in the lottery methinks for a writer to create such a worldwide phenomenon. Whoever wrote the Hunger Games should probably be counted among them since that seems to be the latest sequel movie thing.

I would not in a million years think that I could do something like that, that's not even what I'm aspiring for. I just think its awesome! And yup the Hunger Games author is def on that list. Next will be the Matched trilogy from Allie Condi (I think thats her name) so be on the lookout for those too.

Stephanie Meyer starting writing Twilight after having a dream about a vampire. The famous field scene where Bella and Edward lay in the meadow and he sparkles, that was in her dream. She said that she woke up wanting to know more and so she went with it. Totally awesome, to me anyway!

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:06 pm 
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I totally love to hear where people get their ideas, too.

One of these days, I should read the HPotter books, Twilight and so forth. I always have such a backlog of things to read. I figure if I ever get the flu or something and am laid up for a while, that would be the perfect time to read them.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:11 pm 
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I haven't read Harry Potter, seen all the movies. Just didn't have time to invest in the books. Twilight and Hunger Games were both given to me (the whole sets) by my friends for gifts. I loved them! But I was a total Twilight hater before they forced me to read them.

Def think JK is a much better writer than SM. But I really enjoyed Twilight so I didn't care. Also, I'm pretty sure JK got turned down a lot before someone picked up H.Potter. And now there is a freaking H.Potter theme park! So go figure.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:36 pm 
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JK Rowling pulled a lot from traditional English fairy tales. Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic is an early story that drew on strangely similar material.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:09 pm 
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My mom is a writer (and has a bunch of published books) and I write. I've written and completed quite a few things (mostly screenplays and poems and some articles). I am currently finishing up a memoir. I've shopped my screenplays with some interest, but nothing ever happened and I got bored with rejection and thought maybe my energies would be better spent elsewhere but, like always, I've been pulled back to this dang memoir.

The advice given to me by mom about my memoir was to have it halfway done (at least 150 pages) before I started shopping it to anyone. Sure, you could write a query letter and start shopping the idea to publishers now but if they ask to see some of the book and you haven't written it, what then? Also, some places ask you to submit three chapters with your query so if you haven't written anything, again... problem. They're most likely not going to wait for you to write something. My mom has sold books that are not completed and I may or may not start shopping my memoir before it's finished.

My mom has published several books, has essays in several books, her books have gone international and she's not rich. There are no movies made (yet!!!). She doesn't write for the financial gain, but rather she writes because she has to. So dramatic, I know, but it's true. She makes her living as a writer though, so that is something. Either way, I wouldn't expect to get rich from one book. You totally could write a book and have it go viral a la The Blogess, or not. As long as you're happy doing it that's what's most important. My two cents anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:39 pm 
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Self-publishing is crazy fun. I highly recommend it.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:00 am 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
I don't know if you should write a book, but you should try to get an agent rather than sending your book directly to publishers.

I have to say--I really disagree with this. If only because every successful writer I've studied with has coached me otherwise. I think getting an agent as a first-time maybe-author in the genre of non-fiction is probably more expense than it's worth. I really like seitanicverses' suggestion of sending sample pieces/chapters out as creative non-fiction.

But I do have to kind of agree with Dr. Apricot. Writing a book is forking difficult, and if you spend any amount of time questioning whether it is worthwhile, you likely won't be able to complete it. Books are really easy to start, and EXTREMELY difficult to finish.

But hey, if you want to do it...just go for it!


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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:14 am 
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oh yeah? i probably only said that because I know book agents and that (obviously) seems to be their advice! I've never written a book or tried to so I definitely wasn't speaking from experience. I just assumed that was the best way to go since agents would have connections. But also, the people I know in "the biz" do fiction. So, ignore me!

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:25 am 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
oh yeah? i probably only said that because I know book agents and that (obviously) seems to be their advice! I've never written a book or tried to so I definitely wasn't speaking from experience. I just assumed that was the best way to go since agents would have connections. But also, the people I know in "the biz" do fiction. So, ignore me!

Don't ignore her! It just seems to be changing all the time. Publishing is so weird right now. But a lot of people who want to be published pour money into agents, and nothing comes of it because it's just so hard to be published as a first-time author these days. Agents are hard to find and really expensive, so if you're still iffy on whether or not you can complete the book, it's best to just experiment with writing it first. If you end up with a full book (or most of a book) and feel confident, go ahead and find that agent. :)

I think what I'm trying to say is that many (most!) would-be authors desert their works-in-progress, and expectations only make them more difficult to complete, so just try writing and see how it goes for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:43 am 
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You don't pay reputable agents. They take a percentage of eventual earnings, so it's a gamble for them too to make a sale.

Many publishers won't accept un-agented submissions. The best bet is to look at the submission requirements of the publishers who have published books similar to yours.

Check lit the Absolute Write forums for a bunch of great resources.

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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:46 am 
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Well, maybe I'm just speaking from a Canadian perspective. If that's true, ignore me!


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 Post subject: Re: Can I, Should I write a book?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 12:38 pm 
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vijita wrote:
I really like seitanicverses' suggestion of sending sample pieces/chapters out as creative non-fiction.
Yeah, actually, after this thread came up, I was reading an interview with this girl I used to workshop with who has a book out now, and she said sending pieces (she writes fiction) out to mags/journals lends credibility to your work for when the time comes to send out to a publisher and that's what she did.

Also, this is a Cdn perspective as well, as this girl is a Canadian author.

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