Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Go Forth and Book-ify

Like pretty much anyone who writes professionally, I've long dreamed of writing a book, specifically non-fiction. The problem was that I didn't have a topic. When I lived in New York I had an idea for a coffee-table book, but the research would have been very Manhattan-specific so I abandoned the idea when I made aliyah.

About a year ago, I was contacted by a literary agent, who said that she'd read an article I'd written in a Jewish magazine, and she felt that I "have a book in" me. How flattering is that? She said that whenever I think of a topic I'm passionate about, I would definitely be welcome to contact her. That was so cool. But where was the topic? Writing a book is a tremendous time commitment, and for all but about 6 authors in the world it is not a big money-making proposition. Whatever topic I chose, it would have to be something I'd be willing to research, write, and think about for a period of years. Not so easy.

But lately, it occurred to me that certain articles I've written could be expanded into a book. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. The topic is something I find inherently interesting. Even if I never sold a single copy, which would be disappointing (and expensive), I'd still be happy that I'd done the research, for my own edification.

Then, two weeks ago, I met Fern Reiss, author of The Publishing Game series, at a party. She's in Israel for a year or two. We spoke at length and I decided to go to one of her seminars, the first half of which I attended tonight. We discussed the pros and cons of using an agent vs. self-publishing, how to pitch an idea to an agent, and various marketing information. In addition to learning that, in my case, self-publishing is probably a more lucrative and sensible way to go, I determined that my idea . . .

a) is on a topic about which nothing has been published for several years
b) has a huge potential market , which furthermore is very active, with conventions and chat rooms and other places where I could sell a book outside traditional venues like bookstores and libraries. There is even a product which would lend itself logically to being bundled with such a book.
d) lends itself easily to updating the book every couple of years and issuing new editions
e) would itself serve as a credential for me to write, after the book comes out, for magazines in a related market which I've been trying to break into for a long time.
f) is easily researched from where I live

Obviously more research (about agents, self-publishing, my topic, and possible competitors) is required, but I think I can now say that my plan, definitely, is to make a plan. Meaning, I'm going to do this research and tweak my ideas , and if over the next weeks and months all continues to look logical, I'll go ahead and start the process of making a book!

Wow, I can't believe I'm at the point where I could finally write that. Life sure is full of exciting twists and turns.

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