How Not to Write a Book

If you want to learn how not to write a book simply ask an author who has gone through the process.

Julie Campbell and bookJulie Campbell, who wrote The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History, shared what she learned as the result of her research and writing at the 2013 NFPW Conference in Salt Lake City. For her it comes down to three areas of focus – payment, procrastination and publicity.

Payment As a first-time author when Julie was offered a flat fee contract she simply signed the contract. “I realize now that I should have negotiated for more money,” she told an audience at the NFPW 2013 conference in Salt Lake City. “I didn’t make any money.”

Her contract did not include expenses, so Julie paid for gas, hotels, meals and photocopies incurred as she researched the book and later when she went to book signings. “I would negotiate my expenses if I had another project,” she said.

“Next time, I will get an agent,” she said.

Another thing Julie would pay closer attention to is how many advance copies of the book she would receive. Her contract only called for her to receive two copies of the book.

Procrastination Ten years past from the day Julie signed the contract until the book was published. “Life just gets in the way some times,” she noted. For her life included a job change, a move, a broken knee and sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the project.

“It was an enormous project and it really freaked me out,” she admitted. Julie quickly learned to break the research and writing into small segments. “If I just focused on one chapter, I felt fine.”

Until then, she spent time purchasing office supplies and organizing her work space.

Publicity Julie admitted that her image of being an author focused on the “good old days,” including visiting the publisher’s office in New York for lunch. Instead, she discovered “you are on your own to do your book publicity.”

She noted it’s important to ask how much PR the publisher will do and how much you as the author will have to do.  Julie suggested to her publisher where to send review copies.

Julie also credits NFPW seminars she attended with providing her with some good tips to generate her own PR. One suggestion she picked up was to take pocket folders and insert her business card and several pages from the book to send to bookstores to make them aware of her book.

Julie also created a Facebook page for the book.

Despite these frustration, Julie said, “I am thrilled to have the book to my credit.”

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