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DAVID ROSMAN: Dream big about writing a book, then face reality

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 | 5:41 p.m. CDT; updated 5:23 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 3, 2011

COLUMBIA — So, you want to be a writer. You've had the beginning of the next great American novel floating inside your gray matter for months, years or decades.

You have heard about Tom Clancy and his first novel, "The Hunt for Red October," which was made into a movie, a videogame and a board game and has sold more than a katrillion copies.

Since "Red October's" debut in 1990, Clancy has written a kabillion more books. You are saying to yourself, “I can do that.”

I have met men and women who say they have novels or stories hidden deep within their cerebral cortex waiting to escape. These people believe it is easy to find a literary agent to represent a book and get it published, just because it is that good. 

Dream on and have a cold bottle of Dos Equis, my friend.

Here is a little advice on the subject.

Fiction: Your book is good, maybe even great.

Truth: No, it's not. Not yet anyway. You need to find a professional editor or two who will rip your work apart, correct your punctuation and grammar and provide insight on the order of your chapters, the characters who are underdeveloped and the story lines that make no sense.

The first thing to understand is that an editor is there to help you make your writing better. Do not get upset when your "perfect" manuscript comes back riddled with corrections.

In the 18 months since I started my book project, it has had five edits and seven major revisions, including changing the chapter order — four times.

As you continue to outline and place the first words to paper, ask yourself, "Am I planning to sell this, or is this an exercise that will result in my 2012 winter holiday presents?"

If you answered yes to the first question, you should create a small business to take care of expenses and profits from royalties or direct sales. You should register your company name with the state, receive an Employer Identification Number from the feds and get your "I am now in business" license from the city.

Do not forget sales tax forms — all 20-pages — if you plan to sell your book directly.

Subscribe to literary magazines in your genre and join LinkedIn writer groups to get marketing and writing pointers, services that you will need and publishers or agents who may be interested in your work.

If, as is common in most cases, you can't find anyone to represent you to the publishers, try the self-publishing and publish-on-demand route. You have a multitude of choices with online publishing houses, but research each carefully.

Oy! Then there is the marketing of your book.

Who is your target audience? You think the self-publishing company will do this for you? Fuggedaboutit. It is your book and your responsibility to get on Leno or Radio Friends with Paul Pepper.

Then there are speaking engagements, where your fee is paid by the number of books you sell.

If you do not want to go the "I-am-in-charge" path, try a local on-demand publisher such as Yolanda Ciolli of AKA Yola. She will walk you through the process, from initial idea and getting words on the page to marketing the finished copy.

This is only the surface. Maybe my next book will be about what comes next after you have written the world’s next "Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Or John le Carré's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." Or Gore Vidal's "Lincoln."

Or not.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. His new book, "A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs," is set for release in November. You can read more of his commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.com.


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