So You Want To Be A Writer…

They say, “If you write, you are a writer.”  I’m speaking to the choir if you are a blogger reading my blog.  Yes, we all want to be writers.  Perhaps daily blogging to the ether satisfies your needs.  Then again, perhaps your guage of success is getting a blog on Freshly Pressed or adding that thousandth name to your readership.  My aspirations were more old-school.  I wanted to see my work in print. 

I began my quest to be published the usual way–acquiring the names of publishers and researching whether or not they accepted “unsolicited manuscripts.”  They don’t…nary a one of the BIG ones.  It’s the “don’t call us; we’ll call you” closed door.  Publishers receive thousands of manuscripts, and those are the ones submitted through agents.  How do you get an agent?  Become a well-known writer. 

You see the problem.  Publishing houses will not accept manuscripts that have not already gone through the initial screening of being represented by an agent–a good one.  But an author cannot get an agent without already being recognized as a writer, or having a well-known even sensational name that will sell books.  [The subject of getting recognition through writing contests or writing seminars is another subject.]

 Bottom line, it’s all about the marketing.  An author can pay for everything else themselves–printing, editing, even the ISBN.  But having a marketable name or big enough mailing list is what will get that printed book in the hands of buyers.   Marketing is the nut that must be cracked.   

I now have three books in print, but until my name goes national, they enjoy a small local following.  However, I’m happy with that.  We self-published my latest book, Timeless–A Door County Love Story.  Yes, my  husband and I began another business in our retirement–Farm Grove Publishing.  But because we don’t plan to sell enough in a year’s time to create taxable income, it’s really more hobby than business.

Self-publishing also kept costs down because  I managed the editing, ISBN, and cover design myself with input from a friend in the business.  A lower cost means a lower price, which means selling more books.  The profit also comes to us, the investers, rather than to another publisher who gives back only royalties. Timeless  has sold more copies than any of the other titles.  This has happened just by word-of-mouth or book signings I have arranged myself.  By this time, the Door County Series also has a loyal fan base who wait for the next installment.  Because we are not “in it for the money,” becoming our own publishing company has been the right answer for us.  The profit we realize pays for the costs of printing and allows us to distribute complimentary copies of the book when we wish.  It is enough for us to break even, which pays for my closet profession as “writer.” 

 I would not be a good publisher if I didn’t tell you Timeless–A Door

County Love Story, is available by e-mailing Farm Grove Publishing at

Cost of the book is $10.  It’s a great read for vacation weekends.  You may wish to see what doing-it-yourself looks like!  Keep writing.


About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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2 Responses to So You Want To Be A Writer…

  1. bga3 says:

    Hey Sharon,
    Enjoyed Timeless, but the glaring spelling mistakes really compromised your professionalism to me. I think you should hire an editor to read your work. You are too close to it. Surely within your community of friends you could hire someone who wouldn’t charge too much.

    From this writer’s viewpoint,

    • Sharon L. Clemens says:


      Thanks for your critique. I write as a hobby expending as little capital as possible, but also want to be professional.


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