Kremer's Corner: How to write a book and not look stupid

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Kremer's Corner: How to write a book and not look stupid

These days there are so many books being written about politics that your head could spin. I don’t know anybody who reads a lot of them, but there are people out there who are fanatical readers.  One book that is garnering lots of attention is one written by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

In her book she speaks freely about killing her hunting dog and also about shooting a goat that was bothering her for some unexplained reason. When the book’s contents were reported by the media, there was an immediate uproar from animal lovers and the general public. Why would any public figure reveal that she shot a dog because he was acting out or was not trainable?

It seems that the governor, who is auditioning to be President Trump’s running mate, wanted to show him that she was a decisive person and wasn’t afraid to kill an animal that had disrupted her hunting outing for some privileged friends. Gov. Noem’s revelations have created a constant flow of media stories and each day she has a new excuse as to why she shot her “annoying dog.”

The Noem publishing effort and the many follow-up stories are a good example of the pitfalls of writing a book without any consideration about what the consequences are of revealing negative things about events that occurred during your life. There is no doubt that every author wants their book to be noticed and possibly quoted, but if you write things that may upset the outside world, you are asking for trouble. There is also another danger when you rush to get your book published just to please some high-profile player such as Mr. Trump.

Which brings me to a discussion about the first book I wrote titled “Winning Albany, Untold Stories About the Famous and Not So Famous.”  Unlike Gov. Noem, who was anxious to get her story out, it took me two years to get my book written and published. What took so long? First of all, unless you have a ghost writer and a major publisher, it takes time to collect your thoughts and decide what you want to talk about and what you think is relevant to your story.

When you self-publish as I did, you start out by searching for a company that has experience in helping people tell their story and get it out in the public domain. Once I finished the book, I thought that my masterpiece could be in print in a matter of one or two months. Within a few short weeks after my draft was in the hands of the publisher, it was sent back to me looking like one of my old high school term papers, full of red marks and comments.

The writer who reviews your manuscript raises multiple issues and asks for photographs of the people who were mentioned. As many of them were dead, getting their pictures was a great challenge and took time. I succeeded in getting a number of photos from the families of the deceased so that helped move the process along.

The next challenge is the artwork. What kind of cover would you like? Who or what should be featured on the cover? Did you write the summary to be used on the inside flap at the back of the book? And lastly, what is your title of the book? The real killer is choosing a title. Your publisher wants a title that will attract readers. To get the right title I asked at least six people, including my wife Suzan, for their opinions about the best title before it was agreed upon.

I have walked you through the trauma of writing a book and self-publishing, which means you are involved in each and every detail of getting your story told and you have plenty of time to think about what is appropriate in your book. Gov. Noem didn’t have to do any of these things. She was in a rush to tell her story and had a publisher anxious to get the book in print. She would have been better off to do it like I did. That way you don’t tell stories that make you look so stupid.

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