Why You Should Write a Book Despite the Odds

by | Jun 22, 2010 | Book Marketing Basics

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Bet you can’t guess the title of this book that made publishing history.The setting for it was one of America’s most unpopular wars. It was published at the height of another war that was so unpopular it unseated an American president. The book was circulated for over eight years and turned down by 32 publishers. (I just thought it was hysterical and instead of a committee of readers, gave it to another editor who laughed and agreed. It was published by William Morrow.) Eventually it was made into a film by Robert Altman after a dozen other directors rejected it. The characters in it have been seen by more people than the characters in any other work of fiction.

And the answer is – MASH.

Cover of

Cover of The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure

We know publishing is a mercurial, unpredictable business. Consider what the following titles have in common – Spartacus by Howard Fast, Chicken Soup for the Soul, In Search of Excellence and The Celestine Prophecy. They were self-published before traditional publishers picked them up. All became mega best sellers.

But the chances of this happening to you are slim. In 2008 alone, 185,000 titles were self published and I doubt that you can name two of them.

So why should you write a book and then hope that some farsighted publisher will publish it?

Because you have a story to tell and something to say. You believe that to be so and you are right. Yes, your thoughts, insights, stories do have value.

The process of sitting at a computer or with a pad and pencil and writing means that you will be living through your imagination, one of those rare gifts you can actually give yourself.

Writing a book is hard. No kidding, you say. That is good because when you take on the challenge and you complete the work you will have an immense sense of pride and fulfillment.

And, yes, books do get published including thousands by unknown authors by reputable publishers as well as even more by the authors themselves, who, by the way, can and often do successfully market and distribute them themselves. (You must read RED HOT INTERNET PUBLICITY by Penny Sansevieri to learn how it is done.) Most books whether published by a publisher or by the author do not sell a huge number of copies – every now and then God smiles and WOW!! – but they do have a much greater ripple effect than you might imagine. More people will know about your book and stories than you would predict, like a stone skipped in a pool whose shore is too distant to see.

Tip submitted by Hillel Black, free lance editor of over 20 NY Times best sellers and member of the Consulting Editors Alliance. Visit http://www.hillelblack.com/.

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  1. Mary Jane Hurley Brant

    I have two recommendations: one, if you have a story to tell than tell it. Listen only to your supporters, work hard, have it edited (yes, I did and I highly recommend it). Don’t stop until it is done. Do not do it for the money, do it because you have a passion to write.

    Two, buy Penny’s books. I did and use her helpful and encouraging ideas all the time, even here tonight!

  2. Shannon McMillan

    I have wanted to write a book for a long time adn you’ve actually given way more inspiration to jsut do it than I’ve ever had before.



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