WRITING TIP - DEVELOPING YOUR ARTICLE INTO A BOOK

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

bahamaswriter

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2012
Messages
108
Reaction score
7
Location
Nassau, Bahamas
Website
fayknowles.blogspot.com
Consider developing what started out as a feature article into a full length book! After I returned to Scotland with my mother and young sons to revisit our Scottish roots, I wrote an article about our trip. I submitted the article to various publications over the years, but at 4,000+ words it appeared it was too long.

Eventually a prestigious Canadian magazine editor said he loved it and wanted to use it. Unfortunately, a year later the publisher decided against it. I think they just couldn't find where to fit it in, as it was so long!

Then a light went off in my brain! Why not develop the article into a book? I dug out copies of my Scottish ancestors' marriage, birth and death certificates which had been in my late mother's possession, so I could add that information. And I scanned old photos plus some from the Scottish trip.

I put it all together and my mini-memoir, with Scottish ancestry, historical facts, genealogy, comparable prices, geographical descriptions, personal anecdotes, nostalgia and precious old photos, was released as an e-book and in paperback!
 

Whitestone22

Registered
Joined
Sep 6, 2020
Messages
39
Reaction score
1
Awesome idea. Given the level of research, you're practically a historian. Thanks for sharing. Your book has gotten some great reviews!
 

savvy sophic

Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Hi Fay Congrats on self-publishing..and your Scottish roots ..My heart is in the Highlands too ..I self-published this year by taking a collection of articles and expanding them into a book. I know how much work it takes to make that book idea into a reality. I think we are fortunate to live in an era where we can self-publish. All those writers over the years who had great ideas and then had a publisher stand in their way. Bravo for that belief in yourself! cheers Linda
 

AW Admin

Herder of Hamsters
Staff member
Administrator
Super Moderator
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 19, 2008
Messages
18,284
Reaction score
5,253
Location
On the Server
All those writers over the years who had great ideas and then had a publisher stand in their way. Bravo for that belief in yourself! cheers Linda

You know when we tell people to read The Newbie Guide to Absolute Write and pay attention to the RYFW Respect Your Fellow Writer, we're serious.

We have all kinds of members here; including publishers. And, speaking as someone who first self published a book in 1989, and who has read slush for a variety of publishers, I'm really not willing to accept the assertion regarding "then had a publisher stand in their way."

Please don't make this kind of broad statement.
 

savvy sophic

Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Dr. Seuss was turned down 27 times, J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Jack Canfield, William Faulkner, Isaac Asimov, William Saroyan --700 rejections, Jack Kerouac, Joseph Heller, James Baldwin, Pearl. S Buck, Isaac Bashevis Singer who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Zane Grey, Marcel Proust, Beatrix Potter, Vladamir Nabokov --5 rejections, Syliva Plath, Gertrude Stein, Irving Stone, Rudyard Kipling, Anne Frank Diaries --15 rejections, Alex Hailey ..I could go on but to make the point, it is a subjective decision because there is no hard and fast rule for what people could possibly want to read. Imagine if all of the above had not pursued their dream and taken the publisher's rejection personally. And then there are all the unknown and potentially legendary writers who could not rise above the rejections. Their dream disappeared. Their names will never be known. Self-publishing eliminates the gatekeeper --for better or worse. If a writer is willing to work very hard and take a chance on themselves, self-publishing provides the opportunity. I stand by the statement because the reading world has been enriched by all of the above writers who were not discouraged. Thank you for taking the time to reply because you have highlighted a bigger problem.
 

lizmonster

Possibly A Mermaid Queen
Absolute Sage
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2012
Messages
9,237
Reaction score
4,930
Location
Massachusetts
Website
elizabethbonesteel.com
Trade publishing is a capitalistic endeavor, and that dictates some of its structures. Self publishing doesn't need to be a capitalistic endeavor (although I suspect most self-published authors would like to make some money at it) but it does require capital to make it happen. Both are viable ways to put work in front of readers, and what's appropriate for a particular writer/project will depend on a lot of factors, including what the author wants to get from the experience.

Anecdotally, fully half the self-published authors I know well enough to call acquaintances also trade publish. It's not war with two sides. There are advantages and disadvantages no matter what method you go with, and fortunately or unfortunately, money has to come from someone at some point.

There are certainly systemic issues in both methods that authors should consider. But trade publishing isn't some mustache-twirling villain taking pleasure in crushing dreams. It's a set of processes in which the people involved have to weigh how much they like a particular work with how much they think they can make from it.

It's just business. It can feel personal when you're the one who's poured your heart into something, but it's not.
 

bahamaswriter

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 1, 2012
Messages
108
Reaction score
7
Location
Nassau, Bahamas
Website
fayknowles.blogspot.com
Hi Fay Congrats on self-publishing..and your Scottish roots ..My heart is in the Highlands too ..I self-published this year by taking a collection of articles and expanding them into a book. I know how much work it takes to make that book idea into a reality. I think we are fortunate to live in an era where we can self-publish. All those writers over the years who had great ideas and then had a publisher stand in their way. Bravo for that belief in yourself! cheers Linda

Thanks, Linda. That was a great idea to expand your collection of articles into a book. Congratulations! Wishing you much success with the book.
 

savvy sophic

Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Hi ..not sure if you were replying to me or just a general reply. I wanted to agree with you about the many sides of publishing. My comment was based purely on the opportunity self-publishing presents and that a publishing house decision is entirely subjective--what they THINK the public will like and IF it will make money -as you note. I think the writing world has proven time and again that there is no magic formula. Those famous rejections make for fascinating speculation about the 'water cooler' discussion after the blockbuster hits.
 

lizmonster

Possibly A Mermaid Queen
Absolute Sage
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 5, 2012
Messages
9,237
Reaction score
4,930
Location
Massachusetts
Website
elizabethbonesteel.com
Hi ..not sure if you were replying to me or just a general reply. I wanted to agree with you about the many sides of publishing. My comment was based purely on the opportunity self-publishing presents and that a publishing house decision is entirely subjective--what they THINK the public will like and IF it will make money -as you note. I think the writing world has proven time and again that there is no magic formula. Those famous rejections make for fascinating speculation about the 'water cooler' discussion after the blockbuster hits.

Regarding "those famous rejections": Rowling got traction very quickly, actually, and IIRC from her autobiography, Christie was making money from writing from the start. As for hard numbers? 27 isn't a lot of rejections, and there's a lot of conflation when these stats are quoted between rejections from agents and rejections from publishers. Every single book, no matter the quality, is going to get rejections, because it's not going to be right for every agent or every publishing house.

Publishers run numbers before they decide to buy a book. They have hard marketing data to work with, based on historical sales and successes, although when you're selling art to the public, there's always going to be an element of chance. But "entirely subjective"? Absolutely not. Nobody's rolling a 20-sided die to decide which books to buy.

Now that self publishing has become relatively easy and inexpensive, it's become accessible to a wider range of authors. But both profit/loss and marketing/sales knowledge are still huge factors in a book's success. I suspect non-fiction, much like fiction, can do well being self-published, depending on the subject and the author's familiarity with their potential readership.
 

mrsmig

Write. Write. Writey Write Write.
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 4, 2012
Messages
7,085
Reaction score
1,744
Location
Virginia
savvy sophic, I'm not sure where you're getting the figures you quoted in Post #6 above (you'll find that AW is big on citing your sources), but J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times - which is nothing in the world of trade publishing.

I've seen a ridiculous number of rejections cited for William Saroyan before he sold his first story (as many as 7,000), but his breakthrough short story was published in 1933, when he was 25, and it was not his first published short story. He'd have to have been a prodigiously fast writer to have accrued 7,000 (or even 700) rejections by that time.
 

AW Admin

Herder of Hamsters
Staff member
Administrator
Super Moderator
Moderator
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 19, 2008
Messages
18,284
Reaction score
5,253
Location
On the Server
Hi ..not sure if you were replying to me or just a general reply.

When I quote you and address you directly it's a pretty good indication I'm addressing you.

And, as pointed out by other posters including mrsmig, your figures regarding rejection are lacking in verisimilitude.

And this:

My comment was based purely on the opportunity self-publishing presents and that a publishing house decision is entirely subjective--what they THINK the public will like and IF it will make money -as you note. I think the writing world has proven time and again that there is no magic formula. Those famous rejections make for fascinating speculation about the 'water cooler' discussion after the blockbuster hits.


What a reader will buy is "purely subjective." Given the fact that publishers base a P & L on the assumption that a book is not guaranteed to sell through, they do rather well considering how many books do sell through in multiple formats.

There are a lot of really great self-published books. There are also a lot that are barely literate.

There are a lot of great publishers who have published great books. There are also a lot of fly-by night scam publishers running vanity publishing schemes.

Some writers have the skill set and time to self-publish. Some do do not. It's a big world with room for both.

Let me be absolutely clear: do not make broad sweeping statements that inaccurate and that condemn entire groups of people.

I'm looking particularly o_O at swipes at trade publishers and authors who use them. It's not ok to condemn any pathway. It's particularly not OK when you're doing from ignorance.
 

savvy sophic

Registered
Joined
Nov 7, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Replying to AW admin ..I am new at this by a few days so I don't have all the protocols. I was replying to 'lizmonster' but somehow the thread got lost and ended up with you. I know perfectly well though, what you as admin are saying. Have no fear of that. At the risk of repeating myself --which I am -my point was merely that self-publishing ' broadens the playing field --for better or worse..and that many good writers have been caught in the rejection wheel and lost out. That is it. I am not criticizing you or any other publisher. I don't know you or them. You have taken this way beyond its original intent. If this is the degree of sensitivity AW projects for a seemingly innocuous statement, one sentence that appears to have enraged you. I may well be in the wrong place. I was looking for a place to connect with writers. I feel like you have personalized this for some reason unknown to me. I am sorry if I have opened some old wounds. That was not my intent.
 

Krampus Nacht

Krampus