Blogger: Michelle Ule
Filling in for Mary Keeley currently at the American Fiction Christian Writers Conference in Dallas.
“For which of you, desiring to write a book, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough time and information to complete it?”
I recently counted the cost to see if I had what I needed to take on a new project.
I developed the idea as I wrapped up a two-year project writing about World War I.
I was at my “peak” of knowledge on the subject and before I set it aside (I call it “defragging my brain”), I wanted to know if my new idea was a viable project.
How do you count the costs before you write a project?
1. Investigate if there’s a market for your idea.
Admittedly, World War I is a tough sell in the United States, but I had a nonfiction idea I thought worth pursuing.
My agent liked the idea, as did my husband.
“I think you need to get this out of your system, and now would be the time to write it,” my agent said. “Explore the idea and see what happens.”
I’ve written nonfiction projects like this before and I had a fair idea of the type of information required.
What I did not know was how to find it for this subject.
I knew it would require several weeks research in libraries.
I knew I would need access to people still alive overseas.
I estimated I’d need at least a year to write the book.
My biggest concern was where to find information more than 50 years old that has never been seen before.
Would relatives possibly weary of the subject, trust me?
3. Get help
I appealed to people for help–both for introductions to relatives I needed to interview, and also for suggestions of where to find information I lacked.
I wrote two library archivists to ask for suggestions.
They both sent ideas.
I wrote an acquaintance on the board of directors for an organization linked to my project, and he volunteered to see if a publisher would be interested.
I wrote the world’s authority– who didn’t respond enthusiastically.
4. I thought about it, prayed about it and made a decision.
I would love to write this book because I adore the subject.
But at the moment there are too many hurdles.
When I counted the cost–it was too high and the potential for getting sidetracked on a project that might not succeed was too great.
“But now you got it out of your system,” my husband said, “and you know the answer.”
He’s right. I can let the idea go now, put away the World War I books, and move on to something else.
But if I hadn’t tried, I would have always wondered.
5. Be willing to change if something new turns up.
A subsequent letter from the board of directors arrived after I put away the books.
I thought it confirmed my decision.
My husband and my agent disagreed with me: “they’re not sure, but they opened the door. Go for it.”
I’ve counted the costs again and I’m back on.
Took one week at a US special collections library; three weeks on Google and Ancestry.com. There are no relatives.
I’m excited and just about done with the research.
I think this is a project worth writing!
How do you determine if a project is worth writing?
5 ways to count the costs before a project. Click to Tweet
How to count the costs before writing a book. Click to Tweet