"Charlie, why don't you write a book?"If you read this whole column you'll find out why. That is a loaded question. It's been asked of me many times. Most frequently by readers of the national veteran's newspaper SCUTTLEBUTT, distributed to 10,000 vets across the USA. My cartoons, articles and columns bring rise to mail after every issue.
Having written more than 750 pieces of my column copy since retirement from daily business activity, it's possible I've penned enough to constitute several books. So, why don't I write a book?
It's been determined that we Americans buy more than a billion books a year, and it's also known that the success or probable failure rate is also written in great numbers.
What with 50,000 books every year, and a couple million in print, what chance would "The Best of Adams' Apples" have?
Chain bookstore supermarkets, Internet booksellers, book clubs and catalogs. It's a gigantic annual business. How does one book out of thousands get bought and read at all, much less become successful? It would not be inappropriate to suggest that the obvious answer is a definite, "No one knows?"
Everyone of us has a book in them! My book could easily wind up being just a lost ship in the titanic sea of time.
In the case of most of the WW II vets that write to me, it's their war time experiences that impels them to think they should write their accumulated wisdom and remembrances - and some actually do. I have contributed to three such volumes of recollecting.
Patience is the key word here. Can you carry on through the enduring hardship and difficulty of putting together a completed manuscript of between 100,000 to 200,000 words - on the pure speculation that someone will buy?
Not until the complete composition is finished can it be sold, if then. No one knows the exact number of unpublished manuscripts that pass the editorial desks of American publishing houses. Even a very conservative estimate would put the number in the thousands every week.
Of course, you could go the "vain-glory" route. There are many "Vanity" publishers perfectly willing to prepare and issue your beloved and highly prized pages of memoirs. You must be prepared to pay a sizable upfront-through-the-nose payment before they are willing to proclaim the presence of your literary tome.
Be aware that it has been determined that more than 50 percent of most books are returned to the distributor unsold. So what happens when they revert to you the author? Do you have room in your garage or basement?
If after all these discouraging words you still are resolved to continue on your ego trip and publish that ostentatious pride in your past accomplishments, there is another option.
Having been turned down by a publishing house and having rejected the high-priced use of the vanity publishing house, consider self-publishing. Select a few local commercial printing firms. Get competitive prices. Start with 500 to 1,000 "paperback" books. Find a distributor.
Once the printer has made delivery it's up to you. Without a marketer it's all up hill. You'll want to approach the major retailers, most have "local" sections on consignment.
"Prepping the media" is your next move. Paid advertising should not be a part of the process. Print advertising doesn't necessarily sell print. "Buzz" does sell books. The way to create buzz is to send out the news of your opus to anyone who will "blurb' the new book with favorable comment.
Local newspaper and magazine editors, radio and TV talk show booking agents, book signings - anything and any one who might effectively spread the word.
O.K., all of the above is just too much work and expense. Let's go back to the beginning. So you sent out your manuscript to publishers 127 times. Send it again.
I read about a motorcycle enthusiast that was such a fanatical devotee of the two-wheeled conveyance that he wrote a book about it. The article stressed his endless rejections, until one day he got a "yes." It sold more than 3 million copies.
After every rejection, say to yourself, "What do they know?" Prove them wrong; send it one more time. Get rejected, not dejected!
All well and good. Now what? Wait and wait some more. Do you really want to write a book? Do I? If I wrote one it would probably be just like this column - too long in the middle.
Over the years the words of experience, the essence of ages past flew from my mouth and evaporated. Now I write them down for everlasting time.
BOOKWORMS infest books. They feed on the paste of the bindings. Do you want to write a wormy book?
Is that your unalterable reaction? So go ahead. Send me a free copy.