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Find the Why for Your Book

Recently, many of you have asked a great question: Lucinda, why did you start offering courses to writers?

Eleven years into running Lucinda Literary, we serve a larger list of authors than ever before, and the number of agents on our team is growing, too. Our workload hasn’t diminished; it’s vastly increased. And it’s a blessing to be in that position. To spend every day doing the work we care about; to keep taking risks on the literature we’re passionate about finding a future for; to enjoy regular conversations with book editors, some of the brightest minds in this industry. 

But in 2020, something shifted for me when I witnessed so many educators and authors developing online courses and active followings. As an obsessive problem-solver, I had long been aware of all the conflicting publishing “guidance” out there. There is so much wisdom that sets writers up just to fail. I had a calling to help writers discover the truth, and I knew I had the answers to their questions—insights they hadn’t uncovered before, and new approaches for pitching their books. I had been giving them to my authors over the course of fifteen years, and now it was time to share them with aspiring authors just like you.

If you’re an entrepreneur yourself, you know that, as we grow, it’s important to remember our origins. When I founded this agency as a “company of one,” my mission was to educate writers in the process of publishing and marketing. I had always wanted to touch the lives of hundreds of writers and impact their careers, not just cater to a select few. 

And now, this is exactly what I find myself doing. When I’m in the room connecting with you at our various events and coaching sessions, it’s magic. This is my “why.”

What about you? Why have you entered the world of books? Many of you will say: I’ve dreamed about being an author since I was a child.”

But to me, that isn’t a why for your book. A book, like a business, needs to be created in service to others. For writers, these “others” are readers. 

What is it that you want your book to do in the world? 

Let’s be honest with ourselves on this point. When we decipher our why, the how to get your book out there readily emerges.

If you’re writing a memoir that best serves your family and those who know you, I would direct you to what’s called a hybrid publisher. This kind of publishing outfit will produce, copy-edit, design and distribute your book. While writers may need to invest in this service, many benefit from offloading this work to a team of experts, rather than attempting to do it all themselves (which may have you hiring the wrong people along the way, adding unnecessary time and expense).

If you have an audience of thousands clamoring for your story, an audience who would benefit from its message and lessons you’ve learned, you should try to sign with an agent or publisher to see what a traditional publisher brings to the table. Not convinced? Self-publish. After all, you’re likely no stranger to hiring a team and being an entrepreneurial, business thinker.

If you’ve written an article (or many!) that’s struck a chord, the market is telling you something. See where you can get with the traditional publishing path. You may require a very brief book proposal, if the article speaks for itself in terms of what the book, and its audience, can be.

If your novel—in your writer’s group’s opinion—has all of the potential of today’s most popular or critically acclaimed titles, it would also be in service to readers to try the conventional route of signing with an agent or publisher. 

I value every book you write. Your craft, your immense efforts in both producing your book and trying to get it out there. But your why? If you long for a career as an author, you’ll have to show us.

If you stay in touch with your why, chances are others will too.