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Question
Do you think it is out of the question for me to write a self help book - similar to Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer - if I'm not well known, and only have a average kind of job and have people buy it? I have read countless self help books and found them very helpful to the point that without a college diploma and feeling very lost, I learned to use principles in these books - which actually belong to no one author - to completely turn myself around. What would be the best way to advertise? What is e-publishing? Throughout middle school, high school and a couple years of college every teacher told me I'm a gifted writer.

Answer
Most writers of self-help books have a platform already; that is, they are already speakers with a following. They have newsletters and Web sites and speaking engagements and travel to promote themselves and their books.

A person has to start somewhere, though, and if you have created principles that are unique, not already standard to self-help books, you may very well have a reason to write your own book. If your principles are not unique but gleaned from other books, your book can focus on how you applied the principles and how they changed your life. In that way you are not claiming other peopleís work as your own but saying how the principles worked for you in particular. You are writing your own story, and thereís nothing wrong with that.

Donít put the cart before the horse, though. If the book is not yet written, donít worry about how to advertise it. Write it first, then rewrite and revise it until it sparkles. Better yet, write a book proposal, if you plan to sell it to a publisher. You can sell a nonfiction book based on a proposal alone. Read a book on how to write a book proposal and follow it. My favorite is by Michael Larsen and is simply called How to Write a Book Proposal.

If you plan to self publish, you wonít need a book proposal, but you can buy and use a book called Jump Start Your Book Sales by Marilyn Ross. It will tell you how to promote (never mind advertise) your book.

E-publishing refers to electronic publishing, in which you create a PDF file and sell the book as an electronic file, rather than a printed book. The cost is minimal, so profits are high per sale; however, sales of e-books traditionally are very low. Most people want a book they can hold. As for me, I sell both e-book and printed versions of some of my self-published books, so I have something for everyone.

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Bobbie Christmas

Expertise

Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.

Experience

Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Organizations
Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Publications
Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Education/Credentials
Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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