I started this blog almost five years ago because I kept hearing how essential it was for authors, especially nonfiction authors, to have a platform. The writing consultant Jane Friedman defines platform as “an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach.” While agents and publishers also consider previously published work and speaking engagements, most people focus on their reach through their websites and social media, including blogs and newsletters.
So in March of 2017, this blog was born. I was deeply engaged in writing my teaching memoir, and I wanted to define and grow an audience for it. Little did I know it would take me so long to finish the book and get it published!
At last the time has come. And I have learned so much along the way:
- Although I had already published two writing textbooks and dozens of articles, I had no idea how hard this book would be to write.
- Joining a writing group and having critical friends read your work is essential. Of course, you have to be willing to consider feedback with an open mind!
- Memoirs offer an additional challenge: the limitations of memory. Finding documentation helps whenever possible, and I spent oodles of time going through old teaching files and letters.
- Determining your audience is critical. My writing group pushed me to define mine more clearly, and that altered the direction I took.
- Dialogue and sensory details bring a book to life. There’s a reason that writing teachers always insist on “Show, Don’t Tell.”
- Outside readers also help catch jargon and assumptions about what a reader already knows.
- Editing the manuscript grows ever more difficult with subsequent re-readings. You tend to see what you meant, and it grows harder to catch errors.
- Drafting the manuscript is barely the beginning. Finding a publisher, choosing a cover, doing the marketing, and even providing shelf talker text for bookstores [that’s those little handwritten notes that bookstores place by chosen books] takes time and energy.
- I will be disappointed if no one buys the book – though many have already offered! – but fundamentally I chose to write it for myself. It gave me some closure to a career in education that I loved until I didn’t, that I miss sometimes. It gave me a chance to archive these stories and gain a sweeping overview of my experience.
On March 6, 2022, I will host a book launch at our local public library. I can’t wait!
Note: If you are interested in a purchasing a copy , you can contact me directly for a signed copy or purchase online from https://www.politics-prose.com/ after 3.1.22.