The following is a guest post from copywriting legend and bestselling author Bob Bly, reprinted from his Direct Response Letter series.
My colleague Michael Stelzner recently did a podcast with a woman, AH, who wrote a forthcoming book called “Everyone Writes.”
AH is right: everyone writes. But I have always wondered whether everyone should write. And I have come to believe that they should not.
Reason: In the good old days, just because you wrote something didn’t mean it would be published. In fact, likely, it would not.
To get published, you had to convince a publishing house to buy your book — or a newspaper or magazine editor to print your article or your letter-to-the-editor … and most people were not able to do this easily. So what got published was vetted by professionals — and the quality reflected that editorial guidance.
But today, in the digital era, anything that anyone writes can be and often is instantly published to the Internet where theoretically millions of people can read it — and at least a few people, if only just your Facebook friends or Twitter followers, almost certainly will.
I do not profess any skill in graphic design, and I will never be foolish enough to design my own book cover. But I very much appreciate beautiful design. And John McWade of Before & After is a genius.
Today’s blog post from B&A magazine talked about early iPhone 6 photos that appeared on a tech site last Saturday, before Apple’s Tuesday rollout. The accompanying headline and caption proclaimed, “APPLE’S ANNOUNCEMENT RUINED.”
Travis Heermann is author of the Ronin Trilogy, The Wild Boys, and Rogues of the Black Fury. He has also published short fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines such as Weird Tales, Historical Lovecraft, and Shivers VII.
After going the traditional route for the first novel in your Ronin trilogy, why did you ultimately decide to self-publish the second book?
Soon after Heart of the Ronin was released as a library edition hardcover, the publisher, Gale-Cengage’s Five Star imprint, announced that they were discontinuing their science fiction/fantasy line. Over the next couple of years, I wrote the second volume, Sword of the Ronin, without ever having any idea how it would be published. I’d had a negative stigma against self-publishing for a long time, so it never seriously occurred to me to do that. It took a series of negative experiences with small press publishers, coupled with the sheer number of readers begging me for the second book and the massive shifts in the publishing industry for me to venture into the indie world myself. The good news is that it worked splendidly, and I’m now delighted with that decision.
In my quest to help others produce high-quality books, I’m exploring the various options available to whip a manuscript into publication-ready condition. Conveniently, I already have a couple of completed novel drafts – stories with a beginning, middle and end – that I can put through the publishing process. Note: While I am planning to…
Joseph Dobrian is a freelance writer/editor with more than 25 years of experience. He self-published his first novel, Willie Wilden, in 2011, and his second novel, Ambitions, will be released this fall.
You’ve completed two novels at this point. What is your writing process, and how do you know when you’re done?
For Willie Wilden, the process began with a brief conversation with another author, Joyce Maynard, at a party. Joyce was enjoying considerable fame in those pre-Facebook days, and there was a lot of action on her website’s message board. Joyce and I are always polite, but there’s always been a lot of tension between us. I told her, “Joyce, I’ve got a challenge for you. You say you’re a fast writer; let’s you and I have a race to see which of us can be first to complete a roman à clef using some of the people who post to your board.” She said, “I’ll leave you to do that; that’s not what I write.”
So, Willie started out as a book about a based-on-Joseph character, in conflict with a based-on-Joyce character. Joyce had a friend whom I despised, and he became Martin Wandervogel. As I was brainstorming, I got ideas for other characters. I took a girl I’d had a crush on in high school, and imagined what she might be like in middle age. That became Dora Fox. Because I set the novel in upstate New York, I thought of a couple I knew from up there, who became Frank and Lois Leahy.
Once I had those characters, I forgot about basing the story on Joyce’s message board. Eventually, my brainstorming led to the idea of a “campus novel” about a conservative professor who’s trying to preserve the college’s Indian mascot. That was much more compelling to me. So that’s the story I wrote.