Have you ever thought about becoming an author? Malia said she was focusing on ways to bring in income from home this month and I immediately thought, “Become an author!”
I really never dreamed I’d be one. I do remember thinking as I read the Christmas letter Hal had written for us one year. “He really ought to be a writer,” but that didn’t seem remotely possible. Hal was an engineer and I was a happy homeschool mom. “Writing” wasn’t on the radar for either of us.
But then groups started asking us to speak about parenting boys. We had six of them in a row! When we spoke, people asked if we had a book. At first, we told them no, but eventually we wrote it!
The rest is history. We’ve been full-time authors and speakers for seven years now.
So, how do you even begin do that? Does writing fit in with being a wife and mother? How do you go about writing a whole book? Is it possible for an ordinary person to get published? Does it pay? I wondered those things, too.
I am so glad we tried it. Writing lets me help Hal support our family without giving up what’s important to me — I’m home with my children, I’m available to them, and we still homeschool. Even when we travel to speak, our kids almost always go with us.
First, though, you have to get the book out of your head and into text. Here’s how.
Find your message or story. What are people always asking your advice about? What makes you passionate? Are you a teacher, a story-teller, or maybe some of both?
Decide who you’re going to write for. Do you want to tell a bedtime story for little ones, explain an idea to another parent, reach out to single moms, or share your story with teens like you once were? When you start writing, imagine talking to this person.
Brainstorm. Grab a huge whiteboard and write down all the different things you want to talk about. Just pour it all out and draw lines to connect the ideas that seem to go together.
Start writing. Just GO. Writing is the easiest thing in the world to put off. Set aside a time every day that you are going to write no matter what. Ignore social media. Turn off your phone. Tell the kids “Go play.” But just write. Take the topic you feel the most strongly about and get some stuff on paper (or disc!). It gets easier, really. But don’t start at the beginning! Introductions are so hard to write; save the first for last! Start where your passion makes it easy instead.
Organize, write, and rewrite. As your book starts emerging, use your brainstorming to organize it in a way that makes sense. Rewrite until you love it. Try reading it out loud to yourself, your kids, your husband, or your dog – whoever will listen. It’s super easy to find errors that way and they’ll be easy to fix!
Decide how to publish. There are different ways to get your book into readers’ hands, and each of them has its place. Do you want to find a traditional publisher, a small creative publisher, or try publishing it yourself? The choice depends on many things: Do you already have an audience with credibility in the field or are you brand new? Do you want to make a profit or is it all about ministry? How much control do you want over the end product? There are benefits and tradeoffs in every scenario, so consider what works best for what you want to accomplish.
Reach out and build your audience. It doesn’t matter how good your book is if no one ever reads it! So, you’ll need to help build demand yourself. Even, large publishers just don’t have the resources to invest much in marketing in new, untried authors. Even best-selling authors had to start out promoting their first book for themselves – you’ll be in good company.
Also, you’re going to be the face of your book and you need to build a personalized relationship with potential readers. Try to get inside the head of someone looking for a book like yours – where would they be looking? How would they be most likely to find out about you? Then go plant your flag right in that path! Start a blog, get involved in social media, and make yourself findable.
Just do it. If you’ve got a book to write, you need to write it. Our lives have changed so much since we wrote Raising Real Men. https://www.raisingrealmen.com/product/raisingrealmen/ We love writing and speaking together. We love being able to travel with our family. Most of all, though, we love seeing the different ways God has used our books to help other families. What a privilege and blessing it is! Completely amazing. Worth every minute.
If you are serious about this, you’ve probably got a million more questions to ask! Hal and I just released a new resource that will give you those answers. Our First Time Author Seminar https://www.raisingrealmen.com/product/author101/ has over three hours of detailed training in writing a book, getting it published, and marketing it to your readers. It’s all the stuff we wish we’d known when we started! Use the coupon code homemaking101 at check out to get a 15% discount.
I’d love to hear about it if you write your book!
Melanie Young and her husband Hal are the award-winning authors of Raising Real Men, My Beloved and My Friend: How to Be Married to Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses, and the new Love, Honor, and Virtue, a book for young men about Biblical sexuality. They are publishers, writers, bloggers, and popular conference speakers internationally, known for their Christ-centered focus and practical, real-life stories. They are the parents of six real boys (four grown!) and two real girls and live in noisy, messy happiness in North Carolina.