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Write a How-To First
by Patricia Fry
Are you eager to write a novel, a memoir or a
childrens book, but you are intimidated by the enormity of the task? If youve
done your research, you know that publishing is a daunting undertaking. And
there are no guarantees that your book will be successful.
Countless people become authors without knowing
the ropes. And many of them fail.
Thats why I suggest to clients and
SPAWN members (www.spawn.org) that they start by publishing a sure thing. A sure
thing in publishing, you scoff? Absolutely. Produce a how-to book or booklet
on a topic that you know well. Self-publish it and distribute it through
Lets say that you grow kitchen herbs. First, do
some research to see if there is a need for a pamphlet or booklet on how to grow
a kitchen garden, how to cook with herbs, simple medicinal products you can mix
at home or 10 crafts you can make using lavender.
Maybe you have small children. You could put
together a booklet featuring rainy day activities for kids, local day trips for
families or teaching tips for keeping your kids minds sharp during the summer
If you raise goats, respond to letters to Santa,
collect vintage clothing, love to ride roller coasters, have patented an item,
love gardening, have a disabled child, work with the blind or rescue injured
birds, you have information that others dont have and possibly need or want.
Producing a pamphlet or booklet is an excellent way to share your knowledge
while learning the publishing ropes.
What if you dont have a particular skill,
talent or area of interest? Choose a subject youd like to know more about, do
the research, conduct interviews and write about it. Ive written about numerous
topics in which I didnt have vast experience, including chain letters,
journal-keeping, long-distance grandparenting, intuition, scrapbooking,
therapeutic gardening and how to work with an irate customer, for example.
Once youve chosen your subject for your
booklet, determine whether or not you have an audience and outlets. In the case
of a booklet on herbs, perhaps you belong to an organization related to herbs,
have a Web site featuring herbs, produce a newsletter for herb enthusiasts and
love to visit other herb groups when you travel. Plan to use these means to
promote and sell your booklet.
Promotional opportunities for the rainy day
activities booklet might include a point of purchase display at local toy stores
and childrens shops. You could design and write a column for a new regional
parenting magazine. Obtain a mailing list of young parents and offer your
booklet through mail order.
Your 20-50-page booklet could become a
home-grown product with you doing the cover design, page layout, printing and
assembly, for example. Or pay a local business center to print and saddle-stitch
While no two projects are the same, the
publishing experience will provide you with the skills and tools you need for
future projects. And it will give you the confidence to proceed with the book of
© Copyright 2005, Patricia Fry
Patricia Fry is a career writer, author, speaker and editorial/publishing consultant.
She is the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network)
www.spawn.org and the author
of 27 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book
Visit her informative blog daily, www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
New book of cat stories
Patricia Fry announces her latest book: Catscapades, Tales of Ordinary and Extraordinary Cats www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.html.
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