Perseverance Needed in Book Writing Process

I have heard it said that anyone can write a book.  I have also heard it said that everyone should write a book because we all have a book in us.  The process of writing my first book has been incredibly challenging yet extremely rewarding.

In February 2009 I began putting my thoughts into a word processor for cathartic reasons rather than artistic.  Soon, as I reflected on the emotions and anecdotes I was recording, I thought,  “Hmmm, I should try to put this all together and write a book.  Heck, anyone can write a book, right?”

I wrote furiously for two months, every single day.  Praise God for Desiree for all of her support as I buried myself in our basement rec room.  I worked like heck to tell a story and share a message.  When I finished the rough draft, I asked a colleague of mine if she wouldn’t mind proofing something for me.  What she didn’t realize was that this ‘something’ was over 300 pages long!  Needless to say she was a bit shocked.

Nevertheless, my colleague willingly and congenially edited my rough draft.  She worked tirelessly on the manuscript and provided great direction in terms of voice, grammar, sentence fluency, as well as content.  She would come to work every day with more pages edited.  At night I would go back into my word processor and make corrections.  I was also researching how to get this thing published. Soon she had finished the editing and I finished the revising.

I purchased the 2009 Writer’s Market book at Barnes and Noble.  I finally put a package together for a proper proposal.  I queried my book to over 80 major book publishers across the United States.  I kept getting denial letters in the mail, mostly form letters with a few personally written responses from the editors.  The editors that did take the time to write had some nice things to say about the topic and the proposal I had put together.  Most publishers claim that my audience is too select and the economy is crunching publishers causing them to extremely exclusive.

I did get one request for my manuscript sometime in August from Ambassador Books.  This was amazing!  It felt good that somebody thought the manuscript was worth reading.  In September I received a letter from Ambassador with yet another rejection.  That’s when I turned my energy into researching the self-publishing idea.

I have had a few more former colleagues whom I have much respect for read the manuscript.  I opened the word processor again last night to begin tweaking a few things based on the suggestions my readers have given me.  This is going to take me a while, but I am going to see this through because the premise of the book is important for people to consume and digest.

So, do we all have a book in us that could and should be written?  Yes we do.  We all have valuable life experiences that, when shared with others, can certainly add to our quality of life.  Can anyone write a book?  I’m not sure ANYONE can write a book.  It is a long process that must be endured.  It’s a battle of attrition and only the strong will survive.  Well, I am a survivor and so is Desiree.  I am going to make those changes, get this thing done, and get it published. Then, I am going to write another one!

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About jpsteltz

Proud husband and father of four; Literacy Specialist; Reading Teacher; Literacy Coach; HS ELA Teacher; Published Author
This entry was posted in Authors, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Perseverance Needed in Book Writing Process

  1. Martin Mosch says:

    Sadly, this publishing issue is a big one. I have seen it a lot. Personally, I think you should not give up writing. It defines who you are if you feel it’s worth fighting for. Can wait to follow your posts.

    I subscribed to your blog and like to communicate via email as well.

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    • jsteltz says:

      Martin-Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. Writing truly helps me sleep at night. When I took on the challenge to write a book I never really comprehended how excruciating the editing and publishing part would be. So many publishers are so exclusionary and I wish I knew exactly why. Is it the title? Is it the context? I have gotten some interesting, personal comments back from publishers, but for the most part they were form letters.

      Stay in touch. I do post every day on this blog. Some days are dedicated to the writing and publishing process. Thanks for subscribing!!

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      • Martin Mosch says:

        I don’t think it’s you as a person or your work. From what I can tell a project like yours, that you are so passionate about it’s done by the book. I rather thing there are marketing issues here…and maybe the fact that this is your first time when you publish a book. Publishers don’t have a lot of faith in beginners just because they are beginners!

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  2. jsteltz says:

    Martin-I totally agree with you. Believe me, I don’t take the rejections personally. Writing a book like this is really a labor of love…it’s hard work to make it right. Additionally, I live in a small town and some of the material could offend some, which is not my intention. But, as you know, when we write we have very little control over reader reaction, plus as writer’s who publish material, we naturally open ourselves up for criticism…that I am ok with as well.

    Thanks for the dialogue.

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  3. Mary Kay says:

    Did you know that “The Shack” got rejected from all the book publishers also? They self published it and it sold millions.

    The 700 Club is interviewing him. He gave the Sunday morning sermon at Lifest last summer so I had heard his story. Very amazing story and 700 Club doesn’t capture it all. I pray the Lord blesses your efforts with much success!

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    • jsteltz says:

      Mary Kay-

      I did not know that. That is an amazing book too! In fact, just this morning I gave it to one of my colleagues to read. How funny is that? When I get a moment I am going to check out the ‘youtube’ link that you included in your post.

      I did hear that Chicken Soup for the Soul initially got rejected over 150 times. Amazing!

      Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

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  4. j25451212 says:

    Good luck self-publishing. I am doing something similar. I am serializing my book (Techniques for Effective Technology Integration) on my website on http://jasontbedell.com. I have released the introduction, the first chapter, and the companion videos to the first chapter. I hope to release 1 chapter a week and anyone who follows my blog can read it there for free. Hopefully, once it is fully written, I can negotiate a paper publisher, but if not, I hope that I can at least help my PLN online.

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    • jsteltz says:

      This sounds great…seriously. I will check out your blog and turn our techy people on to it. I am hopeful we can use your material as well. Thanks for being a part of my PLN!!!

      Like

  5. I think it’s awesome that you’re going through with this process. Isn’t it powerful when you have an idea to share? I can relate to the feeling.

    On a smaller level, I’ve been writing articles for journal publication in my free time (what free time). I lack the patience for revision though. Hopefully, I’ll have something published some day too.

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  6. jsteltz says:

    You, my friend, have lots of ideas to share. I won’t hesitate to say what an inspiration you have been to me at school over the past few months. I feel completely re-energized at school in large part due to your technological mentoring!

    Keep writing. If you need any help with editing and/or publishing let me know. I have done lots of research and have been down some of these paths.

    Thanks so much for checking out this blog! Tomorrow’s post is done…resonates from our dept meeting the other day.

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  7. Michael Bowker says:

    Dear Mr. Steltz:

    To you and others who believe you “have a book inside you,” I say this: “I believe I have a heart transplant surgery inside me. When I retire I am going to perform such an operation. Weren’t we all born with the ability to perform such an operation?”

    You are most likely thinking, “That’s ridiculous! It takes serious schooling and experience to perform a heart transplant operation — no one just has it inside them.” That is exactly my point. Writing is no different. No one is born knowing how to write a book any more than one is born knowing how to perform heart surgery. It takes serious schooling and experience to write a book. I’m sorry, there is no shortcut. Just because you are a good reader doesn’t mean you can write a book, any more than enjoying an airplane ride qualifies you to be a pilot. By saying that anyone can write a book, you are devaluing the work and training that those of us who have put in the years it takes to learn these skills have invested. No one is born with a book inside them. Do the work, learn the skills, write a million words, and then you will suddenly find that you can, indeed, write a book. After you’ve done that, you will know how annoying it is when people believe they can do this without any preparation or effort. Writing is hard work and a hard-won profession.

    Why do you and others thinkI am the author of 11 books and 1,000 magazine and newspaper articles. I have English and journalism degrees. When I fly en route to researching a story many people ask me

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