How do I overcome that sense of “who the hell do I think I am?” that stops me from really trying?
Oh, Jodi – I think we all have that cruel, critical voice inside our heads. So first of all, just take that in. EVERYBODY feels that way. Even great writers and published authors.
I believe that that voice is just trying to keep you safe – trying to protect you from getting hurt. So can you imagine that voice being like some caricature of an over-protective mother, wringing her hands and wailing? Or if not that, can you give that voice some other character?
(And really, what’s the underlying assumption here: that only people with big heads write? That you have to be a pretentious ego-freak to write? That somehow writing a book will turn you into a pretentious ego-freak? You can see how silly it sounds when you put it like that…)
Whenever you hear that sharp, stifling voice in your head, it means you’re about to step out into the unknown, and you’ll want to marshal all your resources to keep yourself centered and calm.
Treat yourself as you would a very bright nine-year old. Talk back to the voice (and I often say this kind of stuff out loud when I’m freaking out) in a calm, clear voice and try saying something like:
- “I think I’m a person who’s going to try writing…want to help?”
- “I’m the same Child of the Universe I’ve always been….and I’m writing.”
- “This is an experiment…let’s just see what happens.”
Somehow thinking of everything as being in “beta” really calms me down, too.
So just remember that voice isn’t “real” and keep working. After all, that voice doesn’t come up when you’re actually writing, now does it?
I am writing a CNF book about my heart disease…my experience, my healing protocol (based on strategies outside the AMA guidelines), and the metaphysics behind my disease. I have an important message to share but I am not a doctor. I’m wrestling with how much of the medical aspects to share, given that I am not an expert. I don’t want to sound like I am promoting a cause…I just want to make people aware of the success of alternative approaches and share my story. Any advice?
Lots of advice, Kristin.
First, you’ll need to decide if this is a memoir or self-help book with memoir elements. If memoir, you can just share your experience and don’t get too technical, but just enough so that people can understand what they need to. (I always get lost when I start reading about the different chemicals produced by the body, for instance).
If it’s a self-help book, you might consider having a co-author who writes a short medical explanation (again, geared towards a lay audience) in a sidebar in each chapter. That way, your book gets the credibility of an MD, another person to promote the book, and the reader does get medical information.
However, you can also just give the bare bones required from a medical standpoint, check with an MD or DO to make sure you are accurate and leave out the more technical aspects.
Or have technical aspects in an appendix (I’d be less likely to do this–I don’t think your audience necessarily needs all the medical explanations from you–they can find it on the internet or elsewhere).
Does that help?
- Lisa Tener
Another great question we did not get to on our call, Leigh asked:
Do write your book then write your book proposal?
It depends. In almost all cases, agents and publishers want to see a complete memoir before they sign on with you. You’ll need the whole book for a book deal.
On the other hand, with How-to books you can write the proposal first. In some cases, that’s a good thing, because you may get feedback from your agent or publisher that would change the book.
However, some books beg to be written before the proposal–you’ll know if you get that intuitive sense.
And there are other reasons to write the book first. The attached blog post explains about “orphans.”
A Bestselling Author’s Take on Writing a Book Now | Lisa Tener – Book Writing Coach
One of my clients recently spoke to a friend, the wife of a long-time New York Times bestselling author who brought up a new kink in the book writing business. This woman, an author in her own right, said that she knows of several authors with major publishers who lost their editor due to lay-offs a… READ THE REST HERE: http://www.lisatener.com/2009/05/a-bestselling-authors-take-on-writing-a-book-now/
Rachel Asks —
Hi Lisa! I have a question for you: What should a new author do to ensure they get an agent? And how do you know if its a good match?
Hi Rachel, you’ll want to write a book proposal–I recommend Michael Larsen’s How to Write a Book Proposal for nonfiction books. Have the book proposal ready to go before you send a query letter.
1) identify good matches (agents who are looking for books in your genre and have an interest in that type of book. Look in the acknowledgments section of complementary books to yours. You can also search online for appropriate agents. And going to writer’s conferences is an ideal way to meet agents and even pitch your book to them (and skip the query step).
2) unless you’ve met the agent and they requested to see the proposal, query the agents in a brief e-mail or 1 page letter and see if they are interested in seeing the full proposal. The Larsen book gives great info on query letters as well.
3) send proposal to those who requested and mark left corner of envelope “requested material enclosed.”
4) If the agent is not interested, ask for feedback–what would it take to make the proposal or book more attractive? Often agents and publishers want to see that you have a significant following. If that’s an issue, you may need to beef up your following online (and offline too).