WRITING A BOOK
Many women express an interest in writing their story for publication. I have put together a list of items to be considered when
embarking on such a project. It comes from my experience of how I got published, but each person's journey is different and one
must adjust for her own circumstances.
1. My abuser was dead. If he had been alive, I would not have been able to get my story published. Psychopaths/sociopaths love
to sue. So I think it's prudent for all authors to make sure that they will not be drawn into court over something they might
publish. Even if you change names and locations, sometimes you can still be held liable if the abuser can prove that he could be
identified in the way it was written. If you self-publish, you will want an attorney to review the manuscript (a cost to factor into
the budget mentioned below). If you have a traditional publisher, they will have an attorney review the final manuscript well into
your further editing that you will be doing for them.
2. Has the story already been written? There are many stories of abuse out there. For an agent to take notice there must be
something unique about the story beyond survival. So a lot of thought ahead of time is required before spending many, many
hours on something that may go nowhere. Check out other abuse and survival memoirs and see how they how selling. What
makes your story different from them? What would make your book sell? This is not said to discourage you from writing….it’s
just a reality check on the process.
3. Gathering data. If you feel you need to write a book, you can start by gathering your data and recording it in chronological
order. Then you can decide where to go from there. It may be that just expanding the facts into a rough draft will be enough for
you to process what’s happened in your life. (Some who contact me have already done this step.)
4. Writing can be cathartic. Writing your story may help you process what happened. So even if you choose not to publish, you
may benefit from putting the words down on paper (or on the computer screen).
5. Learn to write to sell. I learned to write beyond my experience in business writing. You can read my writing journey on this
websites Writing page. From my experience, there is not a lot of money to be made in having a book published, unless you hit the
NY Times Bestselling List. If you made $20,000 that would make you a mid-list author and not many authors even attain that
level. Many authors, traditional or self-published, do not sell more than a couple of hundred books. An agent will not even
consider a manuscript if it is not well-written and edited. One way to learn to write is to join a writer’s club where you can meet
other writers and hear speakers on how to write and publish. In California the California Writers Club is a statewide organization
with branches throughout the state. Colleges also offer writing classes.
6. Get beta readers. Once you have your manuscript finished, you need feedback to get your manuscript in its best form. Use
beta readers, preferably someone who is not a good friend or relative. You should not pay for this, but you could offer a free
book when it’s released.
7. Get a professional editor. After you have polished your manuscript based on input from your beta readers, you must get a
professional editor. The average cost for a good editor is $10 per page. I eventually paid almost $4,000 to have my manuscript
edited and polished. But it may not need to cost this much. An agent will want a polished book. This step is especially important if
you choose to self-publish. No one wants to read a poorly written, poorly edited piece of work.
8. Learn about publishing: I found out about how books get published and how much marketing an author has to do to sell
his/her book, even if you get a mainstream publisher. I list the books that helped me and some writing sites on this websites
WRITING page. There are Check out all the marketing steps I’ve done even though I was traditionally published by clicking on
PREVIOUS EVENTS on this website's EVENTS page. From what I've seen and heard, you can only make it with self-
publishing if you are willing to put in a LOT OF WORK for marketing and publicity. This I know from experience from self-
publishing my second book "The Little Book of Success" that's available in paperback and electronic download formats. I chose
not to do marketing and it just sits there, selling occasional one or two copies...and I have the exposure of people who visit my
9. Decision of how to publish. There is always the decision as to whether a writer should get an agent or self-publish, I can't
advise you either way. As mentioned above, each writer's journey is different. It's hard to get an agent. It's not that hard to self
publish (do it through Amazon's KDL and Create Space and Smashwords for relatively little expense) but it is not the end-all, as
mentioned above. Smashwords (you sign up for free) will send you a list of people who charge a reasonable fee to format your
book and design a cover. While I found this list valuable, I have never received any money from them for my self-published book.
10. Do not pay an agent or publisher: One thing is for sure....you should never pay to have your book reviewed by an agent.
Also, if you self-publish, you should never pay to have it done....I'm talking about the companies that want to charge you $4,000
to do it. You will probably not get your money back in sales (remember as stated above...the most authors only sell 100 - 200
books). You can find a link to Predators and Editors in my Writing Links. This is a sight that will give you red flags on people in
the publishing business. Always consult this once you think you've found an editor or publisher to work with and before you sign
any contracts. If you query online, be sure you explicitly follow the directions from the agent.
11. Finding an Agent: If you choose to try to publish traditionally you will need an agent for the larger publishing houses. Some
smaller houses will take direct queries, but they are few and far between. As for which agents to approach...go to a bookstore
and find women's stories and find out who is publishing them. Look in the "thanks to" section to find their agent's name. Or use
the internet to search for agents taking memoirs.
12. Rejection hurts. One must be able to take rejection and negativity. There's plenty of it out there. I was able to shoulder this
because I did my recovery work and I was strong enough to take it. Many agents will send a rejection letter or you may even
never hear from them. Many victims don't realize how the public will turn on them and think it's the victim's fault. If you want to
see what I mean, go to my Amazon book page and look at the one and two star reviews. So if one is suffering from PTSD
because of her experience, putting oneself out in public may not be mentally healthy.
13. Writing and publishing is a business. You must take a hard look at the bottom line....how much will you spend in marketing
(even if you have a traditional publisher you will have expenses associated with marketing…travel expenses, books to sell,
etc….publishers do not do book tours for most authors) and how much you will earn? You need to operate with a budget.
How much can you afford to lose if the book doesn't sell?
14. The reality of publishing: My recommendations for anyone who wants to publish their life story are found in all the above.
They are not provided to discourage you from your publishing quest. They are provided so you know the reality of getting
published…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Good luck with your writing journey.
Copyright 2016, Barbara Bentley. All rights reserved. No contents can be used without permission from the author.