Over the course of over two decades, I’ve often been asked about what writing a book entails.  In 1995 I established to help others shorten their book writing learning curve. I’m the best-selling author of the classic Silver Anniversary of HOW TO WORK A ROOM and also wrote  The SECRETS OF SAVVY NETWORKING, WHAT DO I SAY NEXT?, FACE TO FACE, et al. all New York published so I’ve learned a thing or three along the way.

I’ve had six agents (one per book)  and now am with the best/right agent whom I adore respect and trust.

Because my books have helped me build my keynote speaking business over the years , I’ve also been asked to give presentations at writers labs and conferences. Here is part one of my thoughts.

To me, the quote that describes the business of publishing:

       “NO matter how cynical I get, I just can’t keep up.”  Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin book writing

Disclaimer:   I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth about what I know and have experienced in the world of publishing in which I have lived for over 28 years. It may NOT all be pretty but it will be real.

If you want to write a book: Have a dream, MAKE A PLAN.  In order to best do that, educate yourself about the industry, study the successes, the failures and GO FOR IT.

YOUR BSS = P.T.P.   + M.A.Z.E.L.

Best-seller status = Price to Pay + LUCK

M – mentors

A – allies

Z – zeal

E – editors

L – LUCK (timing meets preparation)

luck required book writing susan roane

Question to ask yourself:  Are you willing to pay the price? Are you ‘teem-ing’ with Time, Energy, Emotion and Moxie?

I can honestly say that there is a cost! The following quiz is one I developed and wish I had been given before I tackled my first book, How To Work a Room.  It encapsulates most of the elements needed to write, promote, market and position your book. The quiz will give you an idea of what it takes so that you go into the process well-prepared.

Susan RoAne’s Self–administered (self-inflicted) Book Biz QUIZ   Answers are Yes or No.

Are you willing to:

  1. Spend 6-18 months perfecting a proposal?
  2. Cogitate, reflect, research and distill?
  3. READ: papers, mags, online sources/ezines, books, research?
  4. Dance the POP Cult CHA, Cha, cha? ( learn all you can about is going on)
  5. Interview the marketplace?
  6. Go to the hard copy magazine racks and assess where there is a fit with your book?
  7. Be alone, silent and introspective?
  8. CONSUME and study information, ideas, industry trends?
  9. Visit bookstores to 5-sense books? (Get the feel, the look, touch,  “listen” to the books and the market, etc).
  10. PAY a personal editor/book doctor?
  11. Meet deadlines? This CANNOT be underestimated in its importance.
  12. EAT, sleep, breathe your BOOK while staying in balance? (or at least trying)
  13. LOSE sleep?
  14. Buy and wear BROWN lipstick? (Because you’ll have to kiss a lot of ifs, ands and butts).
  15. Defer to others, give up control?  (If not, then self-publishing is a perfect option).
  16. Wake up at 2:30 am PST to do a radio interview EST
  17. Allocate funds for professional book publicity?
  18. Schlep through cities, airports, carrying your bookmarks and autograph pens?
  19. BE VERY nice to all bookstore personnel?  (Those paid the least are those who handsell books)
  20. Establish a network of supportive author friends?
  21. DROP everything to interview with a newspaper, journal or ezine, podcast or radio on their deadlines?
  22. Focus your life, time and energy around the writing, editing and promoting your book?
  23. Arrange for and host book events at bookstores, organizations, libraries  Book Writing in-store Book signing
  24. REMEMBER from whence you came? Bring along the next generation of best-selling authors?
  25. Spend the time and energy to BUILD YOUR PLATFORM both through social media (online, subscribers, friends, followers and “likes”) and personal and professional contacts for 6-12 months before your book lands?
  26. Write a full-blown business plan for promoting, marketing and selling your book?  Implement it?

Scoring this test is not as important as knowing the SCORE about the world of publishing. And the book biz is changing radically, daily and with the speed of light.  If you had a majority of “Nos”….you may wish to explore other options.

If you had a clear majority of “yeses” you are on your way to writing your book!

Susan RoAne is an in-demand speaker and has been a best-selling author over two decades. Her seven books were published with New York-based publishers and she has the gray hair to prove it.   @susanroane



About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. The San Francisco Chronicle says she has a “dynamite sense of humor.” To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, 1.415.461.3915