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Get Your Story Told – A Roadmap To Publishing Your Book

So you think you’ve got what it takes to write a novel?

Good for you, that’s a great start. I’ll bet you have a story in you that people would be interested in. The trick is finding the right story, finding your voice, weaving them together, and then learning how to sell your work. Easier said than done.  Whenever I am asked about why I decided to write a novel I offer the same response. It has to be more than something you want to do. It has to be something that you have to do. The good news is that there are more opportunities than ever to get your message to consumers. It’s up to you to come up with the content that readers can relate to in an emotional way.

Where does one begin the journey?

It all begins with having a burning desire to share your story and message with the world. That does not mean your story has to be about your fascinating life. In fact, I’d strongly suggest that unless something extraordinary has happened to you like chewing off your arm to stay alive in the wilderness or swimming the English Channel backwards with a blind kitten strapped to your chest that you consider creating a story that is not about you per se, but something that is written symbolically that provides the reader with your view of our world. Thich Nhat Hahn said that everyone should write a book about himself or herself and I agree. It is a cathartic experience that provides many benefits to the writer. There is a sense of accomplishment and a great therapeutic release upon the completion of one’s personal story. That does not mean that it is meant for mass consumption.

Writing a novel requires developing a story that is crafted with the universal storytelling techniques that have been twisted, turned and stretched, but have never gone out of style. It’s all about what the main character wants and what is preventing him or her from achieving their goal. Sounds pretty simple, but try integrating that notion with a host of characters, scenes and subplots and you may find that things get complicated fairly quickly.

It took me exactly two years of writing and submitting what I now consider my “practice novel” before I felt that I had learned enough to really give it my best shot with another book that was not about me. In fact I found that using archetypes and writing in the third person freed me up to make my points about life, love and the pursuit of happiness. So much material deluges the publishing industry that it is trained to say, “No” to almost every manuscript that comes across their desk almost by instinct. But since the industry was late to embrace the power of digital publishing, writers who truly have great stories to tell are now being given an opportunity to reach an audience. Independent and hybrid publishing are not options for writers who can’t make it in the ‘real world of traditional publishing’. They are liberating models that actually make sense in a radically changed publishing landscape.

Okay, so what’s the best game plan?

For me, step one was having a fresh story that I was uniquely qualified to craft. I saw the rapid ascent of women in today’s world as a very good thing. Go for it, ladies. This is quite different to the mixed signals being sent out to men. There has never been a time where men have been freer to be whoever they want and at the same time less clear about who they are.  I decided to weave that notion into a modern love story about men that both women and men could relate to. So, I wrote, THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE. Over and over and over and over again. I’m sure I submitted earlier versions of the work too soon and I paid the price with numerous rejections before landing a literary agent. After a year, I realized that although I had a good story and against all odds had landed a top agent, my agent was not right for my book. Grrrr. So I cut ties and submitted my novel to just one small publishing house. They liked the book and I was on my way. That said, I have had to do almost all of the marketing, promoting, etc., but the upside is huge as I build my platform and I control the process and own the material. Nice. Now it is up to me to hone my voice and grow my brand.

What else do I need to know?

You need three things to succeed once you put the book out. Belief in yourself and your message, relentless attention to manifesting your goal, and a team of individuals who believe in you and your work. Oh, yeah. You need to keep writing – fiction, non-fiction, blog posts, Tweets, and whatever it takes to get people to know you, what makes you tick and how your work relates to their lives.  It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Guy’s Guy of The Week: Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau, inventors of the world wide web who made it possible for everyone to share their voice in new ways.

So, what’s stopping you from writing your own story?