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Monday, June 27, 2011

So You're Writing a Book

Any time I'm in a public place and someone hears I have written books (it happens frequently when my overly-proud husband is present), I hear the responses:

I've always wanted to write a book.

I'm going to write a book someday when I'm not so busy.

Oh you write that kind of books? Anybody can write that trash.

Admittedly I don't hear that last one very often when my overly-protective husband is around, but it does come out sometimes. Here are a few good things to know about writing a book.

1. It's tougher than it looks. Yes, most people have read many books and imagined writing one, but doing it is different and much more difficult.

2. Writing it is one thing; publishing is another. Unless you are content to publish it yourself, pay for the privilege and sell fewer than 200 copies to your family and closest friends (a condition true of many of the 8 million books now available on, you may not want to go to the effort.

3. Most people who have never written a book think they have the ideal topic: They will write about their own lives. As interesting as most of us are, most human lives do not make for fascinating reading.

There are bits and pieces of my personality and my life in every book I've ever written, but for the most part, those bits hang suspended in a matrix of pure make-believe. That's the case with most novels. You may be the exception, but be warned. You will need not only a fascinating life, but an exquisite literary style if you want to sell a memoir.

Now that I've discouraged you, let me add one last point: Although writing is a difficult skill to learn and requires much practice, the reward of seeing your words and ideas on a printed page may be well worth the effort. In that case, hang in there. I wish you every success.

What are your writing dreams? Share one?


  1. Fun blog, Susan! I'm not yet to the point where I actually admit I'm writing a book--partly because I admit comments like the ones you get--but I'm working up to it.

  2. Hmm. My inner editor is apparently on vacation. Cross that last and insert "partly because of comments like the ones you get." :)

  3. I always get people who want me to write their book. How to explain that I've got so many ideas in my head I'll never get them onto paper?

    Great blog!


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