There is a big gap between wondering how to become a writer – and actually becoming a published author.
Here’s the weird story of how I got a contract with a publishing company, as well as some tips on how you too can find success as a writer.
This is what happened …
Some years ago – before I became a blogger – I decided to fulfill a childhood dream and write a book.
I started telling everyone that I was going to write a book. Some people laughed behind my back, but my friends urged me on.
Yes, something powerful happens when you commit to your calling. Something is set in motion.
At the time I wasn’t web-savvy, but I had a sense that it would be good to publish some articles on the Net. So I started a simple site and published just three articles.
I then went on holiday to visit my family in Europe. When I came back home, I found a big pile of unopened letters. I was about to push them aside, when my eyes fell upon a letter from Duncan Baird Publishers in London.
A letter from a publisher?
I ripped it open.
Dear Mary Jaksch, it said, we would like to offer you a contract to write a book on how to improve relationships. However, we would need a test chapter from you to ensure that you would be a good fit for us.
My jaw dropped – a book contract? Whaaat?
I raced around my home, squealing.
Then I read on and found that they were planning to co-produce the book with the US publishing house, Chronicle Books. Apparently they had spotted my articles on the Net. I got more and more excited.
They said I was shortlisted as a possible author and they were waiting for a test chapter from me. The letter went on to say that the deadline for the test chapter was
… the very next day.
My joyful squeals were choked off. By tomorrow…? Oh, NO!
I sat down at my desk and tried to forget about jet lag, hunger, and the bags waiting to be unpacked.
I worked all night, grinding out the test chapter the publishers had requested. Finally, I emailed them my chapter - and then three very slow weeks went by.
Finally, a letter arrived from the publisher. It took me six hours to muster enough courage to open it. When I looked inside, I saw the contract for my first book, Learn to Love.
This time I screamed so loudly that my son ran to my rescue, and my cat fled under the bed.
What a moment! Imagine if that was you …
It was like a miracle: once I had made the decision to write a book, it took only eight weeks to get a contract with a publisher .
I have to admit though, this book wasn’t all plain sailing. The advance amounted to a year’s income – which was fantastic, but there were some quirks in the contract that my lawyer failed to spot. For example, I never got any royalties for copies of Learn to Love published in other countries. My book was translated into eight languages, so I missed out on a lot of royalties.
However, being a published author isn’t just about the money.
One of the highlights was arriving in Brazil to find a whole shop-window decorated with my book – which had just been just translated into Portuguese!
Was getting this book contract just plain good luck? Or is there something to be learned from my experience?
I think there are five lessons here:
Lesson #1: Broadcast your dream
Tell everyone about your decision, even though you might still harbor some doubts about your plans. It can feel a bit scary to broadcast your dream, but it makes it much more likely that you will make your dream come true.
Lesson #2: Meet good fortune half way
There is a difference between luck and good fortune. Luck is random, but good fortune isn’t. If you want to have good fortune, you need to meet it half-way. You need to put all your energy into making your dream come true. When you do that, chances are that good fortune will do the rest.
Lesson #3: Be visible
If you look at how my book contract came about, the key thing was that I had published some articles on the Net. This is how they found me.
These days, it’s much easier to have a presence on the Net, especially if you have a blog. A blog is a great platform to show off your writing. It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction. A blog will hone your writing and attract readers who will buy your book.
Lesson #4: Improve your writing
The more you write, the better your writing gets. This is one of the upsides of having a blog: it forces you to write regularly.
Lesson #5: Get feedback
The problem with publishing a traditional print book is that it takes a long time before you get feedback. This is another nifty thing about blogging: you get immediate feedback from your readers in the comment section.
I think my best decision as a writer was starting a blog. Blogging has transformed my writing. It’s an exciting way to connect with readers and get the feedback that helps you improve.
As you may know, I co-founded the A-List Blogger Club and have taught over 4,000 bloggers, many of whom are now super successful.
However, there are some new, exciting developments on the Net that are going to revolutionize online education. So I’ve decided to create a new evolution of A-List Blogging, the A-List Blogging Masterclass. It’s not quite ready yet, but we’re working hard behind the scenes.
What are your dreams? Please share in the comments.
About the author:
Mary Jaksch is Chief Editor of Write to Done. She runs the A-List Blogger Club and is the blogger behind GoodlifeZEN.com.
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