Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Real Story

I was asked recently for some help. The woman who asked, I'll call her Hildegarde, wants to write a book. She's decided she needs to tell the story of her brother, who, she suspects was connected with some sort of mafia and was probably killed by them. From what Hildy said, he did die of poison and might have been murdered. She only has sketchy ideas of what happened, though.

I asked her what she considered doing with the book after she'd written it, thinking I could steer her to self-publication and that would make her happy. The woman is in her 70s and has never written anything!

Hildegarde said she wants to get her brother's story out there, but doesn't want to give it to just any publisher, to someone who might twist her words around. There was also an offer to split the profits fifty-fifty.

Much as I hated to do it, I had to let her know that publishers were not going to line up to publish the biography. That it would be a difficult and lengthy process to find anyone to do it. And those profits? I let her know that a typical mystery author who gets a three book deal with a major NY publishing house will receive a whopping $5000 or so right off the bat. A little more a year or so later. Royalties if the stars align and you market the heck out of it.

Two facts that so many non-writers are so unaware of: (1) It's not easy to get a book published. (2) You won't get rich even if you should succeed, unless some very rare and unusual things happen for you.

She still wants to go ahead with it. I asked her how much she had done. She has 3 or 4 pages written. We'll see!


  1. I have to admire Hildegarde's spunk for wanting to get the story out there. Just think of the stories people could share if they just had the gumption. It's great you listened to her, Kaye.

    Go for it, Hildy!

  2. I had to laugh when I read about Hildy's few pages. She has a long road ahead of her and you did her a favor by being honest about the reality of the writing life.

    Very nice post, by the way, and a nice blog. I'll check it again.

  3. Quick! Someone get Hildegarde over to NaNoWriMo! :D

  4. Maybe you can recommend some writing books that might help her and she might enjoy reading?

    It's true. Most people think writers live like Jo Rowling or Dan Brown. They think the money comes easy and fast, just like those books that come out once a year.

    Oh, BTW, y'all might want to change your blog comment set up to allow more flexibility in commenting. For example, I could only post with accounts I don't use professionally and had to log into those accounts to use them.

    Just a thought. Not sure what to suggest, tho, because I don't use this particular platform.


  5. Thanks for all the comments, y'all you guys (to give equal time to my residence and my origins). If Hildy seems serious enough about this to crank out some more, it just might happen. Look for me ducking mafioso hit men in that case.


  6. When I was working, I read quite a few memoirs written by older folks. Boy! They were keenly interesting. And heartbreaking, because there was zero possibility of publication. Thank goodness nowadays there are ways to get the story out there: blogs, e-publishing paid for by the writer, and even, perhaps e-publishing paid (a little) for by the publisher.

    NaNo drove me crazy, and I'll NEVER do that again, but daily blogging is a possibility, specially with the privacy they can offer.

    Great post, and a nice, roomy site.

  7. Hi, I'm new here, but I thought about this, Kaye. Hildegard may be the Susan Boyle of writing and surprise everyone with a big hit. I don't know if any one remembers a book called Ladies of the Club. I can't remember the author, but the book was a first book and a big best seller for a woman in her 70s or maybe even 80s! Judy Smith