Nancy Christie is the author of the new book Rut-Busting Book for Authors. Her other books include Rut-Busting Book for Writers and Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories. She is based in Ohio.
Q: Why did you decide to write Rut-Busting Book for Authors?
A: After I wrote and published Rut-Busting Book for Writers in 2017, and began doing book-related events, a lot of people would ask me if it provided advice on how to write a book.
And while it does have a lot of great advice on various aspects of writing, both the business and the creative aspects, along with rut-busting tips for those who are stuck in a writing rut, it didn’t focus specifically on how to write a book.
So, working on the principle that if people are asking for something, you should provide it, I decided to write Rut-Busting Book for Authors. And to be totally honest, I knew that, even after several books, there were still gaps in my author knowledge.
How better to educate myself and other would-be writers than to reach out to people who are experts in all the areas involved in becoming an author, distill it down into manageable bites and turn it all into a book!
In Rut-Busting Book for Authors, I focused on three stages:
The Process—what it takes to turn your book idea into a publishable manuscript.
The Publication—what publishing methods are available.
The Promotion—what strategies will work best for you to create a “book buzz.”
And I was very fortunate that so many industry experts and authors shared their expertise for the book! I couldn’t have done it without them!
Q: What do you see as some of the major factors that get writers into a rut in the first place?
A: Fear is one factor: fear they can’t start a project or finish it, or, once it’s done, deal with the responses. Their lack of confidence gradually erodes their desire to write. So they procrastinate or say they’ll do it “later” or come up with other excuses for not diving in and writing.
Then there is the lack of knowledge, especially when it comes to writing a book. A book is such a major undertaking: How do you keep all the material and research organized? What publishing path should you choose? How do you promote the book?
Every time you turn around, there’s one more thing you should know about, or should have done, or should have done differently. So you either spend all your time trying to learn everything (which isn’t ever really possible!) or you back-burner it until you think you’re totally ready. But writing a book is like having a baby: you’re never really ready!
The only effective antidote to the fear rut and the lack of knowledge rut and any other rut that keeps you from moving forward is to put one foot in front of the other (figuratively speaking) and move forward. Baby steps, maybe, but even baby steps can result in progress!
When I wrote both Rut-Busting Book for Writers and Rut-Busting Book for Authors, that was what I wanted to get across to readers: that everyone deals with ruts and the people who are successful are those who figure out how to climb out of them!
Q: Can you say more about what you hope readers take away from the book?
A: The most important message is that it is possible to write a book. Yes, it will take time, knowledge, willingness to accept feedback and, of course, a fair bit of money, regardless of what publishing path you choose. But it is a viable option.
And it is also enormously satisfying. Even if your book sales wouldn’t buy a month’s worth of groceries, producing a book that educates or entertains or enlightens people is a gift that can have far-reaching impact. You never know how the power of your words or your creative output can inspire another person.
Rut-Busting Book for Authors is, in a sense, a roadmap—or to use an analogy that fits with the title, a ladder that will help you climb out of whatever rut is keeping you from writing that book you always dreamed of.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: As always, I am knee-deep in marketing, planning events for this book and for the release of the second edition of Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories—new cover and edits to the original stories—as well as for next May’s release of Peripheral Visions and Other Stories.
I also have several novels in various stages that I keep going back to. My next goal is to publish a novel, so I guess I’d better get one of these manuscripts finished!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: That, as hard as it can be, don’t judge yourself or compare yourself against other writers. Someone else will always sell more books than you, get an award that you really thought you’d win, earn bigger royalty checks or become better known than you.
None of that matters.
What matters is that you do your best: you write the best book or article or story or poem or essay that you can, because you are the only person who can write it.
Each person has a unique way of expressing his or her thoughts or ideas. Our responsibility is to use that gift and produce something that will, like a pebble thrown into a pond, send ripples far and away. We may never know what the result is, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, or that lives weren’t touched by what we wrote and shared.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Nancy Christie.