I recently got the message that a friend of a friend is ready to write a Pilates book but didn’t know where to start. She was looking for some advice in that direction. Here are a few thoughts that I have about that.
First, WHY, do you want to write a book? You must have a very strong message that no one else is communicating, or perhaps not communicating well. I wrote OsteoPilates and am now finishing up ScolioPilates (procrastinating at the moment as you can see) for those very reasons. For OsteoPilates, the information about safe exercise for osteoporosis was just too difficult to find for the average person (read: non-exercise professional) and for ScolioPilates, there is great information out there but it can be extremely difficult and confusing to follow. If you don’t have a strong message then I can’t understand why anyone would be compelled to spend that much time at a computer. Especially an exercise professional who is used to being in constant motion.
If you have a message and are determined to get it out there. Then the next thing you need to do is write. I know, sounds obvious. But honestly, finding time to write is one of the most difficult things you will do. You have to be very self-motivated. You also have to be willing to change your teaching schedule. Give yourself your best hours to write. My New Year’s present from my husband? Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, no clients are scheduled until 3pm for me. My most productive hours are early. At around 2pm, I start falling asleep at the computer. Going out to teach at that time instead, gets me engaged and moving again. I read a quote recently from J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. She said that she still has to fight for time to write. “It’s like people think these books write themselves.” And no truer statement could be made. From the very beginning to the most successful writers your friends and family will have trouble understanding that you cannot change your writing schedule for a lunch date, party, doctor’s appointment, etc. etc.
Next, decide if you are going to publish or self-publish. If you are going to self-publish, write until your book is done. If you are going to get an agent and go with a publisher (I don’t recommend it for small niche markets like pathologies), then you can submit your book after you’ve written two chapters along with a proposal to an agent. Try Michael Larsen’s “How to Write a Book Proposal”. It’s very, very easy to follow and your book will be only a hundred times better for doing it. Once you have found an agent, the agent will be in charge of looking for a publisher. The publisher will offer you a contract and an advance on royalties and then you will write the rest of the book.
Last, you will market, market, market, market. You will do this whether you have a publisher or not. Most people want a publisher because they don’t want to be in charge of marketing. Well, sadly, neither does your publisher. In fact, if you don’t present your own very strong marketing plan in your proposal they won’t pick up your book (usually). You are in charge of marketing either way. When OsteoPilates came out, my publisher lined up 10 radio interviews nationwide. A very modest effort. But it is very, very expensive for them to market their authors so it’s not surprising that they didn’t spend more on a first-time author. I am self-publishing my 2nd book, ScolioPilates, since I feel it is just too niche to share the royalties with a publisher and my 3rd book… well, that’s looking like it is more for the masses, so I’ll see about that one.
That is the extreme bare bones of it. I know you’ll have questions. Please post them here so we can keep the discussion going. It’ll help you and it’ll help the rest of us.