Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of our members. Here’s what they have to say in October!
NFAA: What has been most surprising about being an author?
Two things surprised me about being an author. First, what it costs to produce a book. Hiring a layout editor, copy editor, cover designer, etc., all add up quickly.
Second, I’m amazed at how much work it is to market a book, and how much there is to learn about the process. Writing was the easy part, although that did take me a few years. Thank goodness for groups like the Nonfiction Authors Association to help newbies like me sort it out.
Sherry Rhodes is a retired teacher, writer, and the author of The Parent’s Complete Guide—What to Teach, How and When to Teach It. For more information, go to SherryRhodes.com.
The most surprising thing about being an author has been how much time marketing takes. My marketing plan, and executing it with each book launch, takes more time than writing and editing the book with a traditional publisher! But I also love implementing these marketing plans.
Laura Briggs is the author of How to Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business and The Six Figure Freelancer. Her third, fourth, and fifth books will come out in 2021 and 2022. She blogs and podcasts at www.betterbizacademy.com
BONNIE BEDFORD PARK
When I began writing Brides of 1941, a recurring question haunted me: Just when did America get so messy? I glared over my shoulder at the Greatest Generation, and the rise of Baby Boomers like myself. I concluded it’s no mystery. It’s always been messy. At a pre-COVID authors panel, an audience member surprised me with this poke: “It’s never been this messy.” I quote from Brides, “Nearly eighty years later, how can it be so many fellow Americans and members of the U.S. Congress still question the equality of basic human worth?” As the worm turns, it is surprising to me how many Gen X and Millennial women relate to non-fiction work like mine. It’s the same messy question. From a life-story perspective, most care about where they came from. WWII, as a turning point for women in history, is a mark in time. From that platform, they shaped the world as we know it. Surprisingly, I attract readers who are living their own messy-as-they-are life stories. They are future non-fiction authors who will connect generations to follow.
Bonnie Bedford Park is a retired recreation-district-administrator-turned-indie-author and the owner of Spiky Pig Press, LLC. Park discovered the ideal scaffolding for her first book, Brides of 1941, in the form of personal family letters written during the WWII era. Follow her on Instagram @spikypigpress, where she entertains with visual ephemera and a trail of breadcrumbs, leading followers to nose into the next book of her trilogy, Six Weeks for Boat Mail.
SUSAN E. QUINLAN
For me, the most surprising aspect of being an author is that having a book reach publication is such a minor part of the whole experience. While publication brings some relief and excitement that my work is now out in the world, I find most of the rewards of being an author come in the work of developing the book and later, in the many years after the book is in print. Writing provides me a way of sharing my fascination and wonder at the astounding beauty and complexity of nature. Through my books, I hope to inspire others to explore and experience nature for themselves, and help readers discover and better understand complex ideas and some of the remarkable scientific discoveries about how nature works. Accomplishing these goals requires extensive research and thoughtful consideration of input from scientists, fellow writers, and editors, plus many hours of careful writing and rewriting.
Publication might seem quite a culmination after all this. Yet in contrast to the hoopla and excitement that many associate with a book launch, I now see this moment is simply a bridge between creating the book and the next steps. Unless people hear of my book, few will ever read it. So my job changes to one of book promotion—offering me a challenging opportunity to learn new information and develop new skills. In my experience, the rewards for having written, published, and promoted a book appear gradually. They trickle in slowly and somewhat unpredictably: A note from a young reader who enjoyed reading my book; invitations to give presentations; the unexpected kind words of someone recommending my book to others. With luck, a few awards and many purchases also happen. This positive feedback from the world encourages me to start the process all over. But as I start my next project, I am not looking forward to eventual publication nearly as much as I am looking forward to all I will learn, the fun of research, the process of creation, the challenge of editing, and all the people who I will meet and learn from along the way, both before and after publication. For me, being a writer offers many interesting and important rewards. Publication is simply one of these.
Susan E Quinlan: Naturalist/Author/Illustrator
- One Single Species: Why the Connections in Nature Matter
- The Case of the Monkeys That Fell from the Trees and Other Mysteries in Tropical Nature
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