I wasn’t always a book-writer.
I was always a writer. Even when I was doing other things—office work, in my very early adult years, and then sales work, and customer relations, and then, still later, co-publishing an all-advertising-format newspaper—I was still writing. But I wasn’t writing full-time. I wasn’t writing for a living.
And I wasn’t writing books.
I wrote my first book to fill a need. And filling a need is what I want to talk to you about today. But permit me to digress and fill you in on a little of my backstory. It’s relevant.
There were a variety of reasons why I didn’t essay book-writing for the longest time. Impatience for the length of time involved in working on the project was one. Impatience for the time till publishers responded, and till they finally published the book thereafter, was another. (This was long before the era of the e-book. Without knowing your age, I bet I’m older than you are. And print books take much longer to see the light of print than e-books do.) Fear of wasting my time on a time-consuming writing project that, after all, might never see the light of print was another reason. There were others, too. So I stuck to the short form. Articles. The occasional essay. Very rarely a short story—I’ve always been more of a nonfiction writer than a fictioneer.
But no books.
Eventually I did write two books. One was a picture book for little kids, which didn’t get published till many years after I wrote it. The other was a humorous nonfiction thing that I thought of as my answer to Erma Bombeck and Jean Kerr, which still hasn’t been published but at long last has at least been contracted and will finally soon see the light of print, as an e-book, several decades after I first wrote it.
Do you see why I didn’t, generally speaking, write books?
And then… And then…
It was November of 1991. My then-best-friend was working in my home office, computer typesetting the magazines I was editing for a publisher up in New York (we were, and I still am, in Florida), and as we worked, she was grousing to me about the upcoming Christmas vacation, and what she could do to keep her kids (then still a young school-age) occupied during the break.
A light bulb went off in my head. Surely she was not the only mother facing that dilemma! What if I were to edit a one-shot magazine (such as the company for which I was free-lance editing at the time had previously published—they had put out a one-shot mag on John Lennon and a couple of other one-shots as well) on the subject of keeping your kids occupied over the holiday vacation?
I recognized that it was too late to get anything on the newsstands in advance of the Christmas vacation…but what about Easter?
I approached the publisher whose magazines I was editing and suggested he do this one-shot…with me editing it, of course. Though intrigued, he ultimately turned thumbs down. I was devastated but not defeated.
There was a need.
If I couldn’t fill the need with a magazine, I began to realize, I might have the genesis of a book on my hands.
But I was not a book-writer. I was an articles writer. Nonetheless…. I had seen a need. How could I turn my back on it?
I wrote it. I called it, Mommy, There’s Nothing to Do. I sent it out to some five or so publishers. One of them, Berkley, a New York biggie, bit. When the editor called to offer me a contract, I literally jumped up and down in glee while still talking to her, and I tried to keep my voice calm and not betray my excitement.
Since then, I have tried to keep my eyes open for needs. Books that need to be written.
You can too.
One of my latest books falls into that category. The Writer’s Guide to Paying e-Markets grew out of the realization that, while there is Writer’s Market for print books, there is nothing comparable for e-books.
As a writer who has taken a bold step away from traditional publishing (with 54 conventionally published books to my credit) into the e-book field and, counting a failed publisher that brought out quite a few of my books before going under, I have well over 50 published e-books to my credit as well), I recognized the need for a book that would be a market list of e-book publishers.
My best friend was floundering for a project (he’s a writer too) (yes, my best friend is a guy—and a former lover, to boot!) as well as for some money. I suggested to him that he could do worse than to compile a market book of e-publishers. No, it wouldn’t be “writing” in the traditional sense, but it would be very much needed. Writers aspiring to the print markets can read the venerable granddaddy of market books, Writer’s Market, but I couldn’t find anything comparable for those of us who were convinced that e-publishing was the future. We needed this book.
I threw him the ball, but he didn’t pick it up and run with it.
But that book needed to be written. Just like Mommy, There’s Nothing to Do (Berkley Publishing, 1993, republished by Replica Books, and later re-re-published as a self-published e-book) needed to be written.
So I decided if my best friend wouldn’t write it, I would write it myself.
I enlisted the help of a writer friend, Lori Paige, and together we embarked upon finding out what e-publishers there are out there, what they want, what they’re paying, what their requirements are.
The result? The Writer’s Guide to Paying e-Markets. XoXoPublishing has seen fit to publish it. And many writers have already seen fit to download it. (Find it HERE
I saw a need. And I filled it.
The lesson for you?
If you see a need, fill it! While this applies primarily to nonfiction writers, it can also apply to fiction writers as well. If you’re a fiction writer and you see a need for a certain type of fiction, be it a subgenre of romance, a new gimmick, or whatever, go for it. And if you’re a nonfiction writer and you see a need for information—on any topic, any subject, any genre—go fulfill that need.
If you plan to sell to the e-publishing market, you might want to download our e-book, The Writer’s Guide to Paying e-Markets. You’ll find it HERE
Good luck with your writing!