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  • Diana Schneidman

The real secret to writing a book

The real secret to writing a book is to sit down and WRITE THE BOOK. (Yes, I’m shouting.)

Well, d’uh.

It seems obvious, but current wisdom is exactly the opposite.

The experts say that an author’s first priority is building their platform, their brand, their audience or whatever you want to call it.

The other day I listened to an under-identified writer on a teleseminar of unknown date that I downloaded along with a hundred others for my entertainment while on the road.

(Bonus secret: When you create a teleseminar to publicize your work, say your name and your website or product clearly and often enough so listeners in future months or years know whom they are listening to and when it was recorded. Last week a speaker actually spelled out G-O-O-G-L-E so I could find it on the internet.)

Anyhow, the author interviewed on the teleseminar in question has turned from producing a series of information products to writing his first novel.

He offered the following helpful rule of thumb: Spend four hours on book promotion for every one hour spent writing the novel.

He (I think his name is Brian) also plans publicity projects to coincide with each stage of the writing process. They build consumer anticipation and demand, he says.

(Another secret: I have no idea what the novel is about but I’m so excited I’m freaking out. Where do I send my money to advance order it?)

This may be OK for him. He has published lots of books and workbooks so he is accustomed to getting his books done and out the door. He knows what works for him.

However, for most writers this would be disastrous.

Some authors get admitted to prestige writers’ retreats where they get their own room or even cabin to compose in contemplative, luxurious silence. Then they start their workday with email and Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter. When they look up from their “work,” it’s time for lunch!

Picture poking an air-filled balloon with a small pin. It zooms madly around the room and then sinks deflated to the floor a minute later.

This balloon is like creativity. You’ve got to manage the trapped energy to apply it where most needed. (At writing the book!)

Otherwise, your creative air is dissipated as premature publicity.

The first step in being a successful book author is to finish writing the darn book.

Publicity is fine, but if you can’t do both the book and the publicity simultaneously, give the book precedence. You may need to skip some of the recommended publicity and make up for it later.

Originally posted 4-7-14

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