Writing Your Own Book

My name is Stephen Link and I am the author of “Unleash the Power of Outlook” published by Holy Macro Books. As the title indicates, this is a user guide for Microsoft Outlook . This article details the events surrounding the offer to author my own book and the adventures of bringing the project to completion.

How did an offer to write a book materialize? I was heavily involved in a help site called Experts Exchange and one of the areas where plenty of time was spent helping others was in the Outlook section. The author of another book (same publisher) titled “Dreamboat ON WORD,” editor of my book, was also involved in the Outlook area. In 2003 I was contacted about writing a book. After investigating and verifying the validity of this $4,000 opportunity I jumped in with both feet.

$4,000!! How did that work? I agreed to write approximately 300 pages and the publisher set up a payment schedule of $1,000 for every 100 pages after an initial payment of the same amount. By our contract I was to receive $2 per book and the book advance would be repaid after the first 2,000 books. We have now moved into the future by more than seven years since the first printing and this book is still producing royalties.

How long did it take? I started on a course of writing 100 pages per month. By staying relatively close to this schedule I had the book finished in a little over three months. Of course, that was not the end of my journey. Since I had never written a book before I was a bit naive in my thinking that a rough draft was passed to the editor and the author later received a ready-to-publish copy. As the author, every manuscript change required my approval. After a few more months the final copy had been whittled down to a page count of 247.

Because of lower cost the book was printed and bound in Hong Kong and traveled via ship through customs and many other time consuming processes. The book was finally ready for distribution in 2004 and was available through many major retailers, whether brick-and-mortar or online, for $19.99 each.

Now for a dose of reality. I was considering the large number of Outlook users in the world and expecting to reach a decent percentage of them. My initial estimates came up with a possible $50,000 to be gained. The first printing of 2,000 books sold out in a year or so and a second printing with a renaming of the original title, “Link Em Up On Outlook,” followed in 2005. As stated earlier, this still produces royalties but the total made through the years is much closer to $5,000.

It is true that few people can say that they have authored a book, and that has been achieved. Even fewer can say that they have made a living as an author, and that may never be achieved by yours truly.

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