Monday, July 9, 2012


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The publishing industry has undergone radical changes, making it easier than ever for first-time authors to write and publish their books. You may find that becoming an author of your own book gives your reputation and your resume a significant enhancement. If you have your own business, a book you have written can become an impressive business card.

Do not let yourself be stopped by these “obstacles”:

1. You don’t have the time. Make the time: set aside a few hours a week for writing. Watch less news, movies, sports. A page (250 words) per day will give you a decent first draft in under four months.

2. Your grammar and spelling are imperfect. You can get help from an English teacher or from a professional writer, if needed. You should plan on having such a professional proofread (and preferably, edit) your work.

3. It is too expensive. One publisher requires $500-1000 for setting up the paperback book [$100 for ebook] and about $5-10 for each book you want printed. Other publishers and printers have both more and less expensive options.

4. You don’t know how to sell your book. The book usually can be sold through the publisher and through and (Barnes and Noble). It may also be sold as an electronic book (ebook) through similar channels.

5. You need an agent to get published. Not so. A subsidy publisher will rarely reject books.

6. You fear losing your rights to the book. Some publishers will allow you to retain all rights. Make sure yours does.


Write about what you know already. How to… books are of value, as are books that answer other questions, like who, what, when, where, and why. Use the Internet to gather more information. Don’t forget your library.

Set aside a time and place for regular writing efforts. Write freely. Correct later. Ask yourself, “Why should someone care?” and “What is in it for the reader?”

Start with a very simple outline. You will modify it as you go along.

Write whatever you can write at the time you are writing, rather than trying to follow your outline step-by-step from beginning to end.

Specific examples are more interesting than generalities, but examples should make a point. A good pattern is to state your point, then back it up with a few examples or pieces of evidence, then restate your point somewhat differently.

Start with a working title, although you may change it later. Titles that get attention are those that are puzzling, surprising, clever, unusual, or deal with famous persons, places, events, eras. People like to think they are being let in on something hidden, such as The Secret…. Perhaps you can contradict conventional wisdom, as in Why You Should Not Pay Down Your Mortgage or Why Playing Hard-to-Get Often Fails. If you are looking to burnish your business reputation, the book should deal with something business-related, naturally.

Amazon’s Create Space and their Kindle Direct Publishing activity are attractive and attracting many new authors.

As the number of new book titles increases from hundreds of thousands to millions, your chances of making money on the sales of your book become smaller and smaller, but as a vehicle for becoming recognized as somewhat of an expert, writing a book can be a big help. Your book will look good on your resume, on your book shelf, and as a present to yourself, your family, friends, associates, et al.

So…write on!


Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., freelance writer and retired scientist, published in September 2011 [through Outskirts Press] his own book, Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. His web site is His email address is

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