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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Authoring a New Book

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 14, 2016

It seems like everyone in the world today wants to write a book.


Not just any book, but a book that shoots immediately to the top of the Best Sellers List.


There are thousands upon thousands of frustrated writers in the world with a file drawer full of rejection letters from every publisher in New York.


If all else failed, you could pay a “vantage press” to produce your book so that all of your relatives could buy a copy.


And with modern technology, along came “print-on-demand” publishers, as well as companies that could produce a professional copy of a book for a relatively inexpensive cost, and then Amazon introduced the ability to market and sell books.


It is estimated that in 2016, the number of new books (both print and eBooks) will reach an all-time high.


And the number of books sitting in boxes in warehouses and attics and basements of personal homes, will also be at an all-time high.


A first-time author recently wrote an article for “Publishers Weekly” titled, “So you’ve published your first book,” telling the trials and tribulations of the publication of his first book.


“The Assistants” by Camille Perri appeared in the marketplace on May 3 by Putnam, following a lengthy effort by the author to interest a traditional publisher to produce her book.


She has the advantage of working in publishing for Esquire, as well as doing ghost writing for other authors --- but that proved to be little advantage when the time came to “get her own book published.”


The raw product of a book before publication is called a “galley” and she notes how many prospective galleys pile up at any publishing house.


Many great books are returned to the owners as they don’t fit the publisher, or an editor just doesn’t like it, or it simple was overlooked.


Perri says that writers need to understand that a publisher is trying to find a “product” that will appeal to a reader who might read five (5) entire books annually.


The big issue is whether this book will interest, entertain, or better the lives of potential readers.  A publisher doesn’t care that the author loves their work; it is whether the reader cares to read it.


Will this text attract the eye of an editor or reviewer?


Like the old saying, “Cream rises to the top,” the best books will eventually rise to the top of the pile on someone’s desk and be discovered; it just may take some time.


Perri states, “The best books are the ones that real people hand off to their friends, their siblings, their parents, and tell them that they have to read this one!”


(The exception is celebrity books which people will read, and eventually show up at the garage sale)


Her final advice is that “people do judge books by their covers” and following the advice of a professional publisher is a good idea when selecting the title and front cover artwork.


I would add the words of a famous author that I heard speak many years ago.  She said, “You have to have a story-to-tell before you write your book!”


People don’t want to simply read what you wrote unless there is a story that interests them behind the words.


Remember, you don’t want to place an inscription to Aunt Mildred in your new book to find out that she donated it to the library the next month.