A Story of Book Publishing Persistence
By Sophfronia Scott
Recently I wrote here of the tough nature you’ll need to get to the finish line of publishing your book. I think on some level we do have an inkling of how difficult the job will be—that’s why so many want to traditionally publish. Secretly they really just want someone else to produce the book AND foot the bill! But most of the time that’s not going to happen, especially if you lack the true commitment to your subject matter that creating a book requires. Now, what exactly does that kind of commitment look like? I’ll give you an example of someone who overcame tremendous obstacles—perhaps similar to your own—to bring his book into the world.
Next week, Radio Master: The Life and Times of Sports Broadcasting Great Ted Husing hits the book marketplace. The book’s back cover features glowing endorsements from broadcasting celebrities Larry King, Jim Nantz, Bob Costas, Keith Olbermann and Dick Enberg. Radio Master has a handsomely designed hardcover and book jacket. It looks like it was published by one of the top New York City houses.
But it wasn’t.
Over ten years ago my friend John Lewis, an actor, visited me in my office at People Magazine and told me about his idea for a historical book about sports broadcasters. He had a stack of haphazard notes and a few sample paragraphs. I was doubtful and told him so. Though John had written successfully for the stage, it was obvious this kind of writing was not second nature to him. His idea was interesting but unfocused. It was possible to end up with a book, but for that to happen he had to do a mountain of work. I didn’t know if John could, or was willing, to do that.
However I underestimated what this book meant to John. And, honestly, I don’t think anyone other than John can truly know why this book is so important to him. His actions spoke for him. Here’s what John did over the course of these 10+ years to get Radio Master published.
He Learned the Craft
John set about learning everything he could about book publishing. He read books, sought advice from friends and, when I started offering classes on the subject, signed up and absorbed everything like a sponge. He learned how to write a book proposal, how to write query letters and how to approach an agent. He even managed to sign with an agent, but they were unable to sell the book. John didn’t stop there. He decided to self-publish.
He Did the Work
By this time John had narrowed his focus to write only about Ted Husing. He began the work of contacting Husing’s surviving family members, interviewing them and doing the heavy-duty research that writing this kind of biography requires.
He also began to build his platform. He launched a podcast, Sportscaster Chronicles, and regularly featured the top broadcasters working today. Some of his interviews with elderly announcers such as Curt Gowdy turned out to be the last ones they did before passing away. John also developed a blog around his podcast and developed Twitter and Facebook accounts for everything.
John worked on his writing, pounding away at the book day after day, week after week. At one point he experienced the writer’s nightmare: he lost a ton of work after accidentally wiping out his computer’s hard drive! Still he persisted: he found a company to recover the work and he moved on.
He Made and Nurtured Connections
The beauty of doing the podcast meant that John was getting to meet all the best people who could help him promote the book when it was done. That’s how all those great names ended up on his back cover. And get this: they called him!
The Final Stretch
Last year John presented me with a manuscript of over 700 pages and asked if I would work with him to cut and edit the tome. I have to admit I read those pages in shock. They contained a beautifully written, fascinating story of New York City in the 1930s and 40s and the rise of sports on radio. John had done it.
He’ll be the first to tell you that the publishing process has not gone smoothly. I’m not sure it has for anyone! But the fact of the matter is that last week John Lewis had a wonderful launch party for Radio Master in Midtown Manhattan. Family, friends and notables attended. He read from his first chapter, often fighting back tears as he did so. To me those tears represented his commitment to his book and the persistence that has brought him to this point. It was a wonderful testament.
Do you have the same commitment? Are you willing to do what it takes to publish your book?
© 2010 Sophfronia Scott
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