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Thursday, August 20, 2009


Progress Can Feel Amazing, Can't It?

As I wrote in a blog post last month, I decided to take on more writing. I have spent the last few years doing some research and plotting of ideas (what I like to dub my tinkering stage), but now, it is about time to get serious about trying my hand at a non-fiction book based on all of the aforementioned research, ideas, and interests. When I first started the tinkering stage a few years back, it was maybe I can do an article or two out of this idea, but once, I was finding so much more depth and dimension there to leave it as just an article. Besides, it might interest non-academics too, so why stick to a very focused audience as most journals have?

Who knows if I have enough good ideas or if I can be successful with queries let alone sales, but I will do my best. One does not know unless one tries, right? My thought has always been that if I learn something, I should share it with others, so it seems sort of selfish to keep all the ideas and thoughts I am having within the confines of my brain. Besides, I am faring pretty well writing in other realms, so it is something new to try and to challenge myself with. Besides, the only way I am going to ever learn how to do things like writing query letters, book proposals, book manuscripts, etc. is by trying. Even if I fail, in essence, I will not fail, because I would have at least learned something from the experience.

That said, I decided I needed to educate myself about the craft of query letters, the art of writing non-fiction books, as well as how to pitch books before writing them first. So far, I have read two books on the matter: one on how to sell your non-fiction book before you write it and one on how to be a prolific writer within academic circles. I still have two more I would like to get through: one on non-fiction book proposal writing and another one on how to be successful at pitching a book before writing.

From here, my plan is to compile the research and notebook sketches I have been doing all along with the contact information for my first round of targets and see what I need to add/change etc. based on what I have learned. Most of you probably have a lot more experience with this entire process, but you have to remember, I wasn't formally trained in English, communications, etc. nor am I anything more than a beginner with academic writing. I look to all of you in those regards for any suggestions and feedback you might want to email me too. All along, I have been archiving a lot of the WOW community's comments and newsletter articles which could help, but anything that you feel compelled to send my way would be excellent.

So, to come back to the title of this blog post, I feel really enthusiastic about taking on this endeavor and hope that I am doing the best to make this as educational and as thorough (and yes, as successful) of a project as is possible. As an academic-type, I have faith in the soundness of my research and ideas, and now, I have a roadmap, complete with milestones and tentative timelines. My progress will hopefully be aided both by a short break between summer and fall semesters (it might only be a couple of days, but still, it's extra time to my benefit!) and the list of tasks I compiled. One advantage I think I possess is that I do pretty well keeping myself on-task (and thereby, can impose my own deadlines and adhere to them).

The other advantage is that I have all of you along for the ride. Reading all the work you all do and watching other writers struggle, persevere, and doing what they love has inspired me to finally have a focus in my life as a writer for the time being...try to conquer the stages of writing a book. Thanks and do keep in mind how amazing progress can be in making your life feel more complete.

Finding something to focus on and putting the plans into motion are the keys to making it all come together. Challenges and new things keep all writers on their feet as well. In closing, I am glad you all lit the fire and the passion in me to try. The first steps will be the query and deciding where all I want to send it then starting the proposal...who knows where the steps will lead, but even just taking the first steps feels amazing!


Blogger Miss Footloose said...

You should see the books in my book case! Doing the research for a book or for the business of writing can be very interesting and time consuming.

I've heard authors say they have to TEAR themselves away from their research in order to actually start the writing of the book itself.

I wish you lots of success!

Miss Footloose Tales of the Globetrotting Life

11:40 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Thanks. Fortunately, that's why I cut down my reading list, bookmarking the other gems I found just in case I feel compelled to do further reading/research on the craft in the future. I am budgeting only a little time for learning the background information I need to pursue this as a semi-professional.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

I meant bookmarked on my list, that is.

Anyways, in case anyone reading this blog post is looking for similar books, these are the four I am working through...
(1) Camenson, Blythe. How to Sell, Then Write Your Nonfiction Book. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

(2) Johnson, W. Brad and Carol A. Mullen. Write to the Top! How To Become A Prolific Academic. St. Martin's Press, LLC-Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

(3) Lyon, Elizabeth. Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book (Revised Edition). New York: Penguin Group- Perigee Book, 2000.

(4) Mettee, Stephen Blake. How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal. Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc. 2002.

4:53 AM  

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