In a few days, a shipment of my second book will arrive – 2,000 books. If someone told me five years ago I would have two books about the Bhagavad Gita out in the world, I’m not sure I would have believed them – but here we are. Prior to writing my first book, I had published a few articles, mostly in professional music journals – but nothing very long or of too much substance. At some point in my life I wondered about writing a book and how someone actually accomplishes that task – it seemed rather daunting. In one of the books I own about self-publishing, it states that the second book will most likely grow out of the first book. That proved to be true. The idea I have for my third book also comes from the second book with the title included in the second. We’ll see what evolves with that idea.
All of us are drowning in a sea of books – they’re everywhere. It seems everyone is writing a book about something. Because we are surrounded with books our entire lives, it seems very familiar – anyone can write a book these days. Having gone through the experience twice now, don’t be so sure that anyone can write a book. Stephen King once said: writing equals ass in chair. The exact same thing could be said for being a musician. My ass has been in a chair practicing my instrument for nearly a half century now. 47 years of practicing contributed to the discipline of writing.
My new book is over 71,000 words and is just over 300 pages long, written from start to finish in less than two years. That’s a whole lot of ass in chair time. If I wasn’t actually sitting at the desk writing or editing every day, I was surely thinking about the book every day – just ask my wife. The time I spent writing the new book was 20 months – or 600 days. On average, my best guess is three hours per day writing – or 1,800 hours. Those hours average out to 40 words per hour. 40 words per hour doesn’t seem very productive, but writing a book is a very slow process. It is one thing to say you’re writing a book – but it’s a completely different to invest that kind of time, thousands of dollars, and release it into the world. There are only three other people who have read Warrior Truth from start to finish – my three editors. That isn’t much of a test market to insure the success of the book. It’s a huge risk to self-publish your book, but finding a publisher in today’s market is also a risk – mostly of time, money, and patience.
After going through the experience of writing my first book, I told myself I would spend at least the same amount of time I did writing it as editing it. That length of time actually went two months longer. This was the best self-imposed advice I gave myself. Sitting with the text for eleven months and having three different editors on the project was invaluable. Not only do you have to find people to read and offer editorial advice, you also have to find an exterior (cover) and interior designer for your book. Design takes time. My part-time job in the month of August was designing the interior. The “real” designer put the text of the book into the design program and handed over the computer for me to organize – all of which took an amazing amount of time and patience. It didn’t help being under a deadline with the printer to have the book in time for the Yoga Journal Conference. Having the opportunity to sign both books at the conference was too good of marketing opportunity not to do everything possible to get the book finished.
If someone decides they want to take all this on and write a book – what will you write about? My second book is completely different than my first book, even though both are the same subject matter, the Bhagavad Gita. If you ever read any translation of the 700 verses known as the Bhagavad Gita, with no help from a commentator, it’s very challenging to figure out what you are reading. While writing Warrior Truth, I discovered an organization of the verses into what I’ve classified as primary and secondary themes. There are four primary themes and eight secondary themes throughout all eighteen chapters of the text. No one has ever organized the text in this way before and it helps enormously in understanding the Bhagavad Gita. This is only one of the contributions Warrior Truth offers. Both books offer different perspectives that no one else has ever written about – that’s why I wrote both books.
As a lifelong reader of books, I never fully appreciated what went into the writing process – and I certainly had no idea what went into the production process. When someone else takes the risk and does all the work producing the book – the publisher takes a huge percentage of the profits. A writer friend of mine had her first book published recently and she had no say in the cover of the book. It turned out to be rather boring and she hates it. You sign your intellectual property over to the publisher and the book is no longer yours. Without risk, there is no reward. Right now, I really don’t know if anyone will like my new book. I agonized about releasing it the whole time I was writing it. There isn’t a soul in the world who can tell you what to do in such matters. Eventually, it all comes down to how you feel about the work you’ve done. Book sales aren’t the mark of success – it’s everything that took place prior to the book being released – that’s the success. If you don’t believe me, write and publish your own book. The Bhagavad Gita tells us to focus on our actions, not the results – results come second. If my intention was to sell large numbers of books to somehow prove I’m a successful author, I wouldn’t have chosen a sacred esoteric Hindu scripture to write about.