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“Kandie, I have a story, Can you write it.”
I have been asked the above question, or some rendition of it, too many times to count. If people only knew how much work goes into writing a book, then they would think twice before asking someone else to write their stories. (Unless, the person they are asking is a professional “ghostwriter”, which I am not.)
This open letter was written not to indicate my level of expertise in the field, as I am still learning my craft (as most serious writers do), but as a way to answer this question in volume, for current and future requests;-)
Sometimes, it’s easy to politely decline the request, but other times, when it’s a loved one asking, it becomes difficult. After all, I want my loved ones to prosper. I want to help them as much as possible. And, they see me promote my books, and some support those efforts.
So why not help a family member or friend and write his/her book?
You see, the books they see me promoting are end products. They don’t see, support or witness all the emotional, physical, and mental work that goes on with completing a manuscript behind the scenes. They don’t see all the weeks, months, and in some cases, like my upcoming novel, “South Pacific Nights” , years, that it took to complete it.
They don’t see all the hours in solitude, (save for my puppy Starr), that I spent coming home from the full-time job in accounting, declining dinner invites, V.I.P event access, birthday parties, and even dating, in order to study, read, and write fiction.
This is not a hobby. It’s one of my career-paths.
“But, Kandie, my story is different, it’s good.”
I’m sure it is. But can I, (Kandie) write your book?
At this time in my life/career, unfortunately, the answer is “No.”
Possibly, one day (way in the future), when I’ve explored the characters and new worlds that I want to share, but right now, I’m only writing my stories.
Well, for starters. One novel took me 3 years, another took 6 years, due to research required (jobs, places, historical events) for each book. Not including the time it took to write the 1st and 2nd drafts, or the 50+ hours of studying about the craft of writing and unmentionable hours spent reading the works of other writers that have helped me find my writing voice and matured my writing overall. Also, writing a book includes: plot revisions, rewrites, self-edits, and then getting other people to read and critique it before final edits, proofreading and polishing the book.
If you self-publish, that’s just the beginning of your product’s journey.
What they don’t see are sixty-thousand words a fiction writer has to crank out in order to call something a “novel”. Even short stories like novellas, (which I have self-published) require at least 10,000-20,000 words each. Then there’s the countless hours promoting and marketing the book to recoup your expenses.
These are stories that took years, some decades to write, because when I started there was no personal internet usage, hence, no digital publishing for the everyday person. Self-publishers like myself, had to save thousands of dollars to have an off-set printer, print the books. These off-set printers were not one-stop production sites. They didn’t edit your book or design your book cover, nor assist with marketing. Once you had your bulk printed in bulk (which cost thousands of dollars) you had to store the books the books as if they were Mary Kay products and sell them from your garage or trunk of your car. I never had the money to do it then, but now, with digital publishing, I can. So I have finally releases stories I had written years ago, (after some polishing of course) and I’m about to release a slew of new stories later in the year. But this snapshot into the life of the writer, is why I am unable to write someone’s story. It’s alot of work, and I’ve already moments with family and friends because of my stories.
Sometimes, I have to write for 8-10 hours in a day, to catch up on any writing time I missed throughout the week. Some full-time writers, write 8-10 hours a day, every day, like a regular 9-to-5. Why? Well if you want to write fiction for a living, then it has to pay your living expenses, which are continual bills, meaning, you have to write more than one book. Also, one book may be more successful than the others. So just like a recording artist, you have to have a new product out at least once or twice a year.
So although I encourage anyone with a story to pursue book publishing whether self-published or traditional publishing avenues, I also encourage them to learn the craft of writing, or save some money to have someone write if for you, (see ghostwriter).
On one hand, I’m flattered, that someone sees my work, and thinks it was an effortless creation, but although I’m a “talker”, writing takes more work. In addition, I have a full-time day job, provide graphic design services, a short-film or two in pre-production, and finishing my degree in between writing books. With all those irons in the fire, I have to be diligent with carving out time to write.
Now with that said, I don’t mind, editing or giving feedback to a story you have polished, or giving providing affordable graphic design services for your cover, but writing that first draft…will have to start with YOU!
For those still reading and still want someone to write their book:
I’ve seen people who don’t have the patience to read and write a half-page email, say they want to write a book. Well, if you’re serious about writing, keep reading.
If you don’t have time or interests to research, study, and practice writing, so that you can complete a novel, then your next option is possibly, a ghostwriter. Ghostwriters are writers who don’t necessarily have to get by-line credit (see their name on a book they’ve written). Just type in “fiction + ghostwriter or ghostwriting” in Google and you’ll find someone. Be sure to do your research, ask questions, get samples of their work and make sure they are a good fit. You know, treat it like a job interview, only you’re the employer. However, keep in mind, writing someone else’s story for hire, (ghostwriting) isn’t cheap, mainly because a lot of ghostwriters don’t get that by-line credit, that’s why the are ghosts. Some ghostwriters are behind popular celebrity books.
But once again, ghostwriting services cost. I saw one website where they charge $20.00 per page, not including the $600 development charge for the novel. Some charge thousands of dollars depending on who they are writing for and what they are writing about. And that’s because of all the work they will have to do, (mentioned above and below) in order to finish your book.
People, coming up with 60,000-70,000 words, per book, is not always easy, even for naturally-gifted writers. Writing is manual labor, and it requires discipline, meaning you’ll have to cut down on the social life, to crank out a book. And becoming an author (published book writer) requires sacrifice just like any other profession. You don’t think Michael Jordan got where he is on natural gifts alone. Or your favorite musician/rock band, just woke up one day and cut a record? (Well nowadays there are people out there who just put something together and put it on YouTube), but overall, it requires practice, hard work, studying, dedication, sacrifice and perseverance to write, just as it would any other talent. A big component of writing that differs from other crafts is that you normally do write solo, unless you have an in-house writing partner, or a “write-in” even.
That’s why for some, writing is not appealing craft/profession. It doesn’t often include socializing. In fact, you might spend many nights throughout the year alone, working on your manuscript. And if you want writing as a career, then you have to come up with more than one book. Unless, you’re one of the lucky few, who makes six-figures off your debut release. It happens, but it’s rare.
Since I put the acting and music hats down (for a spell, in order to write my books) I have family and friends who never see me. I have been called a hermit on occasion. That’s because of goals and priorities I have, which can be kind of autonomous. But I chose that path, and I’m seeing it through until my self-imposed deadline.