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Back Yourself to Write a Book

These days, loads of people go on exciting adventures. Perhaps you are one of them. If you’d done your trip 100 years ago it would have been the talk of the town – and most definitely worthy of being told in a book.

Today though the travel and adventure book market is saturated. There’s some fabulous stuff out there – both brave adventures and well written books.

There’s mountains of dross too and boring tales published by celebrities and novelty travel writing tales and titles with puns in them and Amazon’s Top 2 Travel Writing books today are both cooking books… *sigh*

But book writing today is more democratic and fair than it has ever been. True, you might not get the publicity of Jamie Oliver nor sell as many books. Yet his page on Amazon is no bigger or more special than anyone else’s – mine for example. And the world of self-publishing has now made it very easy for anyone to self-publish their book and sell it to the whole world via Amazon.

That’s what I chose to do with my last book, There Are Other Rivers. I wrote it, edited it, proof red it and published it all myself (read my thoughts on self publishing here). I did it all in the space of a couple of months.

It doesn’t sell very many copies. If I cared about earning piles of money I would be a banker or a lawyer. But I don’t. I care about doing something as well as I can. I love telling stories to the best of my ability. And, I confess a little awkwardly, I enjoy the praise of people who like what I have written. (Getting more than 50 5-star reviews on Amazon for my little self-published book makes me very happy, for example. And bad reviews bother me less than they used to.)

So here’s the point of this post:

  • If you’ve been on a great adventure and want to write a book, write it.
  • The only obstacle today to becoming an author is yourself. Stop making excuses.
  • If you feel that you have a good tale and if you enjoy the prospect of moulding and crafting and trimming and polishing that story, then do it! Do not be daunted by how ‘small’ you or your story is. Your Amazon page will be the same as everyone else’s.
  • Write the book because you want to. Don’t do it for money or for earning shallow praise from online strangers. Do it because you want to. It’s the best reason, and the best way to ensure your book becomes a good book.

If you do get off your arse and make your book happen, then this site taught me all I know about self-publishing. BUT you do not even need to open that site until you’ve got 80,000 words down on paper. That’s the hardest part of all: bum on seat and write, write, write…

Good luck!

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  1. Great advice their Alastair. Sculpting, crafting and putting a book out there is a valuable challenge in itself.

  2. Wonderful advice and big kudos for having both the guts to write yourself and the power to inspire others to do the same.

  3. Admittedly, I liked the style of writing you used in ‘There are other rivers’. My review was contributed on I hope you write many more books in the same vein.

  4. Perfect timing… tomorrow I catch the ferry from Portsmouth to Santander, from where we’ll be cycling to The Gambia to help out on a Re-Cycle project. The blog is ready and I was just debating whether I need such a big notebook. This has made me think that I do! You never know, I may find a writing style on the road that I can live with.

  5. Calvin okeeffe Posted

    I have a story to tell, one of adventure challenge and self discovery… Alister you are helping me take that step… Thx bro…

  6. Your writing blog was an inspiration… keep going!!!

  7. It’s ‘proof read’, not ‘proof red’. This made me smile a bit 🙂

  8. I love it! Thank you for all the sound and no nonsense advice. “I care about doing something as well as I can” – and apparently loving it too! Such an essential element to being happy. Not finding happiness, but being happy. I always enjoy your posts and will now check out the book. And of course, if I ever want to gather all my scribblings for a wider audience, I’ll refer back to this post!

  9. I’m pretty sure he put ‘red’ on purpose. Made me smile, cuz I got the joke.

  10. Ju Lewis Posted
  11. Great words of wisdom, Alastair. The biggest thing stopping people from putting their work out there and staking their clalim, if you will, is most definitely themselves. Just trying to maintain that motivation and consistency to put paper to pen, or rather, putting fingers to keyboard. Couldn’t agree more about the rewards of positive comments, views, or downloads. It’s fun–even if I’m not making any money! 🙂

  12. Alistair,
    I just read your, “Back yourself to write a book”. I stumbled across your website sheerly by coincidence, and have written a little and published my own work.
    Oh, the first thing I read that you wrote was winging how your map book didn’t sell.
    I remember being so eager when I first started writing. I lost many loves because of my failure to produce income from my effort. I lost my family respect and really haven’t gotten it back yet. All in all, I published One book, my life blood, or should have been because it was my life, 2 short childrens adventures and three shorter roman books.
    I blogged and blogged until my fingers bled, and have recently decided to go back to construction work because between healing people and writing about it, and my story writing, I have never experienced a poorer life of existence.
    Think of living on $10 a day, but cut it into 4 and try living on 2 bucks. But now I’m winging.
    My reason for commenting is not to be heard but to listen. The last comment on the page I’m on is from 2013. I’m wondering how life has improved in the last 3-4 years. I have not kept up to your other posts, nor will I. I will bookmark your page, should your life interest me again. Just curious how you are doing now>
    Sincerely; Jim

  13. Still on the self publishing tip? I guess so… Trying to work out what to do with mine. Self publishing, I guess it’s all about the time you can put into it, maybe? And doing lots of talks and media and pushing and pushing and pushing.
    I like the idea of editing and polishing a book myself but I know it would be shi*e at the end. I feel motivated to have a solid editor from whom I can learn the road and the idea of having an agent is pretty ace too.
    Having written all that, I like your approach to things and your willingness to share. I know I have this book about this one unique journey I did but that could be it, my only book, and this makes me want to make it absloutely as good as I can make it. Through doing that I could learn a sh1t ton and then maybe even keep writing.
    Apologies if this sounds like a diary entry!
    It’s such a dichotomy. Get mentored by an expert and produce great results or risk it all, living in uncertainty and just go for it.
    Is it all about personality types? the brazen and the not so brazen?
    All the best! 🙂



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