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The Writer’s Town

by Jerry Schuster  |  Saturday Apr. 1st, 2017

Let’s start with a simple premise; just about everyone in Bozeman writes articles or books. This account is limited to just book writers. Because, it is a lot easier to poke fun at others when I am not included in the group.

The question asked in Bozeman is not, “Are you writing a book?” No, the question is, “What is your book about?”The goal here in Bozeman is to get one book on the local best seller list. This means that you sell 25 books or more, after spending three years attending promotional events. Most writers cannot wait the average six years it takes to send the manuscript to 400 literary agents only to receive rejection letters so, you are left with little choice but to “self publish.” Go get yourself another cup of coffee, this will take awhile.

HOW TO SELF PUBLISH:

Write the book. This is usually the least painful and most fun of the entire process. If this is a typical romance, murder mystery or teen thriller, this step takes on the average 23 minutes, unless you are going for a best seller, which will then take you 2 hours and 15 minutes.

If you are writing historical fiction, nonfiction or the type of warm and fascinating book you can’t put down; the type you read in its entirety on a cold Bozeman evening while snuggled under your blanket, a state of being referred to by the Danish as “hygge,” this step will take three to ten years. The research, writing, rewriting, etc. will put your patience to the test.

Write a second book. This is a very crucial step. Hint: have the second book ready before proceeding with the remaining steps. You can just pick up where you left off on the first book, so don’t worry about the time. The second book can take as little as 28 minutes to write, unless it is historical fiction, or nonfiction, which will take approximately 28 more years. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

Self- edit the book. This means taking the time to read what you have written. You might find silly mistakes, for example, “Oh, I forgot to write Chapter 2,” or another common one is, “I changed the protagonist’s name from “Lloyd” to “Flossie” in Chapter 3.” Now, go through and clean up these little details.

 Have a writer friend review the books to give you constructive criticism. This step takes about 32 months. You see, this friend is also reviewing 384 other books at the same time as yours, plus writing her own book and sequel. Just relax a bit.

Hire a graphic designer for the cover. This is a must—what you are looking for here is the look of success and accomplishment. The cover should be embossed with huge letters showing your non de plume: e.g., “E.X. UXWORTHY.” VERY IMPORTANT, PLEASE WAKE UP! Female writers should choose a neutral name, where the sexual identity of the author is undisclosed. An example would be “M.Y. Secret.” The reason for this is that books by male authors generally sell better than those by female authors. This is all part of the “Montana Experience.” It has something to do with the Livingston writers, but I have not figured it out yet.

Oh, by the way, the actual title of the book is largely irrelevant and can be shown in small letters at the bottom of the cover. For example, a recent title was, “Teenage Werewolf Resurfaces in Montana Prairie Town, Vol. XXX11.”

Now this cover will cost some serious money, but having it done professionally is the only way to sell at least two copies of the book. The cover design, graphic engineering, peer review and actual production rights will set you back about $1,700.00. Not to worry, you will recoup $1.23 when you sell your first book for $12.99, less printing, shipping and handling costs, leaving you a net profit of 13 cents. An added suggestion is that you get the cover gold foil embossed, as that will attract at least three otherwise disinterested browsers. Once they have the volume in hand with the gold embossed author’s name in giant letters, the battle is won.

In order to self-publish, you have to self-advertise your book. This is a quick and easy step which involves getting other writers excited and anxious about your forthcoming book, if you would please send them a free copy to review. Thank you.

Sell the book. This is where it gets frustrating. After you try “e” sales for 6 years with no success, you go to the local bookstores and library to get your book on the shelf. Folks, I am not talking about the shelf you see as you enter the premises; these spaces are reserved for the current Montana author best sellers, which are romance-spy or who done it thrillers set in Scobey, Montana, with author’s name in huge gold-foil letters, for example, “Z.R. Stillcansit;” the book title at bottom in tiny letters “Prairie Romance Thwarted by Mysterious Drone Fly Over.”

Here is what happens. All store or library personnel head for lunch or the bathroom as you enter the facility with four copies of your book and the sequel in hand. After you wait for two hours, the custodial engineer’s administrative assistant, hired the day before, comes out to inform you that the facility is closing in ten minutes; please exit and have a nice day.

If you are fortunate to have someone actually take a copy for placement, it is put in a large bin with other such books, located in the basement. The bin is labeled “Wanna-be-best sellers.” When the bin is full, a yard-type sale is held where your book can be purchased for 50 cents. Gold foil cover books go for 75 cents. The author gets 10 cents per sale, but must go to the facility to pick up the coins.

The thing about local book writing anymore is that the people who write the books just sell or give them to other local writers. There are few readers who are willing to buy new books now, as they can get them off their devices for nothing. They just have to click that they will review it, which of course they don’t get around to doing.

Then, your second book follows up where the first one left off. VOILA! You are a bona fide expert on writing, which allows you to do several things.

First, you can write a didactic book about how to write a book. When this becomes a local best seller, meaning it was purchased by 3,000 local wanna-be-best-seller writers, you are set for the second reward.  This is the home run for local writers, which is presenting local seminars and workshops about how to write a book! Yes, this is where the local book writers’ money is made or spent, depending on your point of view. For the presenter, now expert, this is comparable to the famous chef getting out of the hot, stuffy kitchen and promoting the must have cook book. For wanna-be- best sellers, this is your chance to hear how one person out of 10,000 sold over ten copies of their book, and thus became an expert.

Oh, all of this writing is giving me writer’s cramps. I also have writer’s block. Gives me an idea about a future article, which would be about physical and mental ailments experienced by writers. Stay tuned.

My best wishes to all the Bozeman writers who work so hard to get a book out. You are my heroes. 

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