Besides your manuscript and the fee, you'll need:
- A little bit of word-processing savvy (word- and photo-uploading savvy).
- The ability to put your thoughts into words.
- A creative eye for creating the covers.
- A reliable Internet connection.
Sounds simple, but here's where the rubber meets the road. You’ve heard the old Rodgers and Hart song that says “If they asked me, I could write a book.” So stop waiting to be asked and do it. In my case, picking a subject was easy. I had done dozens of celebrity interviews for Grand magazine about the joys and virtues of being a grandparent, so it was just a matter of selecting the best ones and coming up with a title. That’s how my book, Grandeur: The Personal Reflections of Famous Grandparents, was born.
Checklist to Become an Author
- Write your story. Choose a title, prepare an outline and some notes then begin. Pace yourself. Don’t try to do it all in a day or a weekend. You can start with pen and paper, but sooner or later you’ll have to transfer those scribbles to a computer. Don’t edit yourself as you go along. Stay in the moment and let the story flow out of you.
- Edit your work. Congratulations! You did it. Now it’s time to fine-tune it. Run spell check and grammar check through your word processing program. Then read it aloud. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to be right for you.
- Choose your printer on demand. Research your options (with Google) and choose an online printer on demand that does not charge any fees for publishing your story, allows you to purchase one book at a time and has its own bookstore offering free placement of your book and order fulfillment. A good printer on demand will have formatting instructions about how to set your margins and what size font to use. If you can create a digital document file, you can do this.
- Design your front and back cover. Most printers on demand will provide you with the tools to upload your back cover copy and cover picture and calculate the proper width of your book’s spine. Just fill in the blanks.
- Register with your printer on demand bookstore. Make sure you place your book in your printer on demand’s online store. It’s as easy as sending a copy of your cover with a description of your book. Your printer on demand representative will take care of the rest.
- Place Your Order. Order at least a single copy for your bookshelf (if not hundreds, depending on the size of your family and social groups). It will be delivered in less than two weeks. You’re an author. Now go brag about it.
Mary Ann Cooper is a New York-based journalist and syndicated columnist.
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