A few months ago, I interviewed Mark Eckel after he published his first book, I Just Need Time to Think. That manuscript was a compilation of posts Mark has written for his Warp and Woof blog. I was interested in offering insights from him because I speak to a number of bloggers, but few actually get to the goal of publishing a book. I thought it would be helpful to share what Mark had done and learned from his experience to help others who want to turn their blog into a book.
Now Mark has released another book, When the Lights Go Down. Once again, he has done something few authors accomplish. He has published a second book. So I thought it would be helpful to learn what he did to reach the goal of publishing another book and hear what advice he would give to aspiring authors. What follows are answers to questions I posed to Mark about his experience as an author so far. I think you will find his comments to be very helpful.
This is the second book you have self-published recently. What prompted you to write a this book?
I love movies, so I wrote a book! J For over 30 years I have been watching, discussing, and interpreting movies with my students. The book is full of stories from these encounters. But there is another reason: I have a large backlog of writing which needs the organization a book can provide. If one has a large amount of written material, writing a book becomes much easier.
What did you learn from writing you first book that helped you when you wrote your second book?
Cover design: Instead of choosing a photo for the cover as I did for the first book I let Westbow’s design group create the book’s appearance. Everyone remarks about how good the cover looks.
Editing: I had the Westbow editors do the edits for the first book and was so impressed I used them again this time. Even with the costs involved the book looks so much better ‘punched up’ by a good set of eyes who know the market.
Organization: Many people had commented about how much they liked my layout of short essays for the first book. I used the same approach for the second book with similar responses.
What did you learn about marketing your first book that you are using as you market your second book?
Professors. I sent a galley copy to a colleague who immediately adopted it for a class. I am using the same approach this time.
Students. Often the people I teach will want a copy of the book.
Conferences. When I speak to large audiences, the emcee is grateful to be able to hold up a copy of a book I have written.
Reviewers. I asked a good number of people to write reviews for the first book. In the second book I asked 16 people to contribute interviews which provides a built-in promotional-audience.
Foreword. I desire to have high-profile leaders create publicity for the book. The first book foreword was written by a college president, the second by a famous film festival founder. In both cases, all I had to do was ask.
What has been the most surprising thing you have found as a published author?
I never cease to be amazed at the response people have to holding a book with my name on it. There is an immediate attitude of respect folks give authors. My response is always the same: humble gratitude. I am grateful for the opportunity to write and the humbled by the possibility that the writing could benefit others for good.