Talking about publication is irrelevant unless your writing exists
Last month, someone asked me for advice about how to get published for the first time. It’s a big question with many answers depending on where the writer is in the writing, editing, marketing, distribution, and publishing process.
It took me back to a Friday afternoon when I sat blissed-out, enjoying a much-needed hair appointment. My hairdresser applied hair dye, pulling and tugging on my hair roots just enough to stimulate pleasant micro-endorphin rushes. Knowing I was there for a few hours, I relaxed.
My hairdresser runs the only organic hair salon in my area, and we’re both passionate about natural health. I buy organic food and lean towards natural therapies rather than medicine, thanks to my alternative upbringing. She only uses organic hair, skin, and makeup products in her beauty business and is the glowing embodiment of a healthy lifestyle.
The comfy salon chairs were all occupied, yet for once no hairdryers were blowing so small talk formed pleasant background noise. We were having our familiar natter about natural health.
“I’ve had an idea for a book in my head for the last five years. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with more people. It could really make a difference to women like us,” she said.
“What’s stopping you?”
She shrugged. “I’ll get to it one day. I even know what the second book would be about.”
“Why don’t you start writing today?” I said.
“Where would I even start?” There was a gesture to the thrum of the salon behind her. Busy, as always.
“What if I wrote it for you?”
“How would that work?”
“You talk to me, just like we are right now. I record our conversation, make notes, write up what you say into logical chapters. You don’t have to write a word if you don’t want to.”
She titled her head to one side, considering.
“You have the idea, the information, the passion. I love writing, but I don’t have your expertise. What if we combined our skills?”
Her first book.
My first ghost-writing client.
This book will be published in 2021.
Yes, getting published is a decent end goal.
Knowing your target audience is an excellent start.
Having a unique, fascinating, valuable concept is essential.
But until you capture your idea in an article, a blog, a book, a proposal, a synopsis, an outline, or even in audio or video, you have nothing to show.
Yet, the blank piece of paper, the pristine notebook, or the flashing cursor on an empty document, can seem like an insurmountable hurdle. Even when you start writing, you may become crippled by self-consciousness, embarrassment, or imposter syndrome. It is okay to feel let down by your (apparently but not really) crappy words or the size of the task ahead of you.
But, if what you’ve got to say is important, if you can’t shake the urge to tell, it’s worth persevering. Several techniques can get you started:
- Describe why your story is important. While you’re there, write down who your readers are, including a detailed description of that one special reader you are specifically writing to. In my case, I have you (yes, you!) in my mind’s eye.
- Set an intention or goal or objective. Allow the vibration of your positive energy to create space for your project. Visualise it while you’re washing the dishes, or when you meditate, or walk. Allow your enthusiasm and self-belief to shape the project into reality.
- Map an outline: the chapters, or subheadings, or key themes, or pages. Sketch them with crayons on the back of your child’s Elsa picture, narrate them into your voice memo app, or scribble them onto a napkin in a restaurant (like they used to in Hollywood)
- Take practical steps to write. Diarise time each day or week, join a writing group if that’s your thang, or set word count targets.
- Just write. No one will ever see your creation unless you start. Nothing’s lost. It’s all upside.
A lot of work? You’re right. So, ask yourself:
- Are you a storyteller or a thought leader?
- Are you a scribe or an innovator?
- Are you a wordsmith or a trailblazer?
If you err towards the latter of these, hire a writer to do the hard bit. They’re the experts so you don’t have to be. And if you pick the right one, they will love working with you. Then, tell them your story. Like my hairdresser did.
I’m Rananda, a Sydney-based writer and editor.
With 25-plus years in corporate life, a financial background, a science education, and a lifetime of writing, I know there is more to starting and growing a loyal following than just the words on your website or saving that draft manuscript in a folder.
I bring comprehensive practical experience to supporting your writing needs.