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Coaching Conflict Consultation Couples' Counseling Publications Psychotherapy Parenting & Self- Parenting Talks, Workshops & Programs Favorite Resources and Links

Empowerment Systems

"........When Change is the Challenge."

SO.You Want to Write a Book?!

by Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.


"Are you going on a book tour?" and, "I've been thinking about writing a book too," are frequent responses I hear when people learn that I am the author of the beautiful book I am carrying with me. You wrote that! Wow! It must have been a lot of work. How did you find a publisher? Is this your first book? You must be very proud. Why did you decide to write a book? and (rarely) What is your book about?

Some books are written by professionals, people who actually earn their livelihood by writing. Most writers, like me, earn their income in other areas and write for other reasons. For me, writing is a joyful experience. Yes, of course it is work, and yes, of course, it requires discipline; but it is work I love, and I am always surprised at how much time has passed when I complete a writing session. My body protests, I am stiff, and discover I have forgotten important things like eating, stretching, and going to the bathroom.


Creating a book is in many ways like producing a child. In fact, this particular book was started after participating in an "intuition at work" seminar in which we were asked to draw pictures that represented the current state of our lives, and other pictures that represent what an ideal life would look like. Drawing quickly, I produced a picture of a drooping plant in a flowerpot as the current state. The second picture showed a stick figure carrying a baby stick figure-my desired future.

Since my children are adults, I immediately recognized that my creative self was ready to cure my mild depression (the drooping flower), by creating another book (the baby). I wasn't really too surprised; I had been thinking about doing another book, and had even opened talks with an editor, who was asking me to do a project I wasn't especially excited about. I was dragging my feet, and consequently, my life was dragging.

In a discussion with others about the meaning of the pictures we had produced, I was drawn to a very friendly, articulate woman. I learned that Karen was a publisher who was attending the conference in order to locate writers for a new line of transformational business books.

Coincidences like this happen to me occasionally, and I like to think that they are not accidents. I showed my new publisher friend one of my older self-help books and told her that I had been thinking of rewriting it for a business audience. That wasn't exactly what Karen had in mind, but as she shared her vision, I grew increasingly intrigued. We parted with her promise to send me her guidelines, and mine to think about creating a proposal for a book that would meet her needs.

Years before, after 30 or so rejections of my first book manuscript, I had decided never to write another book until I had sold it to a publisher first. That is the recommended procedure, but amateur writers like me often must learn by going through the agony, and then the numbness of having our "baby" be rejected over and over again by disinterested editors. It isn't their fault; editors want to produce books that people will buy, and most budding authors don't take the time to learn how to help the book publishers sell books and make money.

For me, the most challenging part of creating a book is figuring out exactly what I want to say, why I want to say it, and to whom I want to say it. I need to know what actions I want my audience to take after they have read my book. Thinking about the problems my clients shared with me, I realized that an important common concern was deception in the workplace. Everyone was trying to figure out how to decide whom to trust, or ruefully recovering from trusting the wrong people. Perhaps a book on that subject would make a contribution to peace and prosperity in the business community.


It took about three months of exchanging e-mails with Karen before I mailed my proposal and sample chapters, and another two months (quick for the publishing industry), until I received the contract to write the book. The writing was completed in eight months of weekends, where I was excused from some of the ordinary routines of life like shopping, laundry, and boring meetings, because, after all, I was writing a book.

From my perspective as a personal and professional development coach, management consultant, and psychotherapist, publishing is a weird business. Most books that are published are not expected to earn much money, and therefore, not much is done to bring them to the attention of potential readers. Karen, my clear thinking, wonderfully fair and supportive publisher explained it this way: A publisher is to a book as an obstetrician is to a baby. Raising the infant child is the responsibility of the parent, not the doctor, and raising the infant book is the responsibility of the author, not the publisher.

Parenting (Marketing)

Raising the infant book means letting the world know it exists! This can be a daunting proposition in world where over 50,000 new books are published each year in this country alone. Of course the publisher's catalog lists the book, along with dozens of others, and the publisher's sales rep takes the catalogue to bookstores and shows it to buyers. However, most buyers want books by known authors, and although I have three previously published self-help books, I am not a known business writer. Sure enough, when I ask bookstores if they have What Is The Emperor Wearing? Truth-telling In Business Relationships they usually say no.

Fortunately, since a disappointing experience with an earlier book, I have been reading books and attending seminars on book marketing. In fact, my own marketing started before I submitted my original book proposal. I actually thought about why potential readers buy books and used the information to design this book. I included lots of stories, catchy chapter titles, and problems most business people have experienced. (The table of contents is on my web site.)

I also took part of my small advance on royalties and hired a publicist to guide me as I started on my book marketing career. We decided that media coverage was one way I might be able to arouse interest in the book. We started that process before the baby was born-while the book manuscript was being edited, typeset, and printed.

Newspaper reporters and magazine editors are busy people. They seldom answer their telephones and rarely have time to return phone calls to people they don't know. They are inundated with faxes, letters, e-mails and packages which regularly get buried, lost and discarded. They do know (and need) the publicists, who lead them to interesting stories. My publicist was able to arrange two major newspaper interviews, some Internet publicity, and several radio interviews.

I take on the project of sending copies of the newspaper articles to magazine editors along with "query letters" asking if they are interested in publishing an excerpt from the book. Of course, we first must find out which editor of which magazine just might be interested in stories about truth-telling in business relationships. I learn that if these editors are not contacted by phone shortly after I send them information, I am wasting my time. I hire a publicists' assistant who loves to talk on the phone, to follow up with the editors, and we do place some articles.

Speaking to people is another way to interest them in my baby book. I call bookstore community relations representatives, and offer to do "events." At The Tattered Cover, about fifty people come, and I am thrilled. Events at other stores draw only a few people, but I love to see the signs in the stores that inform shoppers about my book and the book displays do sell books.

I send letters and e-mail to everyone I know, and I ask them to invite me to speak to groups, and to ask bookstores to order my book. They are encouraging and full of suggestions. I am invited to speak at breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings. In fact, I spend so much time raising my baby book that I forget that I still need to earn a living.

Will I write another book? Yes, eventually. I'm not ready yet; I believe that proper spacing of children is important.


Laurie Weiss, Ph.D., is an internationally known personal and professional development coach, psychotherapist, and author. She practices in Littleton, Colorado, and is also available for telephone consultation at 303.794.5379.
Laurie Weiss' fourth book, What Is The Emperor Wearing? Truth-Telling In Business Relationships, was released in March, 1999.
What Is The Emperor Wearing? Truth-Telling In Business Relationships is filled with tales of ordinary individuals in the workplace who are striving to steer a course between deception and damaging confrontation by developing truth-telling skills. As you relate to their struggles and successes, you will learn the techniques and strategies that will help you to steer your own course through the treacherous business environment of the approaching millennium.
Purchase What Is The Emperor Wearing? Truth-Telling In Business Relationships from your local bookstore or from Amazon.com: <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0750698721 /002-6318823-1704815>.
Copyright ©1998, Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.