Careers: Writing/How to complete my book
Hi I am not a professional writer so I am a total newbie. So any advice you want to give me would be great I am not sure I will ask all the questions I ought to ask. I have written a bit already its about my personal time as a social worker. I would like experts in the field to give me their opinions on how to fix foster care. I would like to write to them, call them, and get there input its imperative to have them for the book to work. I am hoping to spark a change. What do you suggest I say; write to them to ask/get them to contribute to the book? When I succeed with this, what are my next steps to getting published? I have 2 more books planned(in my head) to follow this up. Also I wonder how to find a group of people that are also writing for support and how do I find a mentor? Thank you for your time.
Hi Adreanna -
First, I salute you for trying to make the system better.
I think your next step should probably be to solicit comments/suggestions/input from 'experts' who will lend breadth and credibility to your book. You can simply tell them that you're working on a book and would love to include their perspective, but make sure to state clearly that you are asking for comments from them for publication and if they send you written material they are giving you permission to publish it and they should specify if they want their comments attributed or published anonymously. Keep an ongoing list of all contributors to you can use them in cover letters, book jacket, marketing materials, etc. I would also continually update your letter asking for input to include the names of others in the field who have already contributed - that reassures others it is a legit project - and maybe helps prompt them to respond. Since writing a comment takes time you also might offer to 'interview' them on the phone and transcribe their comments since talking is often easier than writing for busy professionals.
Getting published is a project in itself, so I'd first focus on gathering material, then defining the point-of-view and parameters of the book and generating a table of contents/outline. This will greatly facilitate the writing process - and you'll need it to interest an agent or publisher in the project. Check back with me when you have a pile of material (your own and others') and a tentative organization for the book, then we can discuss publication.
For support, I'd search local resources for any writers groups. You may not be able to find any in your area, especially groups that focus on (or even include) non-fiction. Think about a 'writing buddy' individual, friend or (ex-?) co-worker. You can meet with them every week or two and that will help keep you motivated and focused – and generating material, since you now have someone to answer to. Look online - and think about groups of social workers, not just 'writers'. Also, be careful when showing any work in progress to anyone
. Other writers (or non-writers) can be inadvertently destructive and easily take the wind out of your sails before you've even fully hoisted them (your sails, that is).
As for mentors... I don't know. Maybe a social worker who mentored you? Writing mentors don't really exist outside of professional writing programs that I'm aware of, only coaches and 'creative consultants' like me, but we'd need to get paid – except on allexperts.com.
Please remember that writing a large project like a book is a very ambitious undertaking and it will not happen nearly as fast as you want it to. The process will inevitably include hills and valleys. One important element in the process is stamina. Hold and reinforce your vision for the project. For now, don't worry about editing or rewriting, just start generating, gathering and soliciting content because you need a big pile of it. Let me know when you have a bunch of stuff and we can discuss focusing and shaping it.