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So You Want to Write History? Part 1

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history-writing-part2For any aspiring author who wants to write about history, you will rarely find an example of a man as straightforward and honest about his own experiences, as Eric J Wittenberg. Author of more than a dozen Civil War books, Wittenberg wrote a seven-part series of his experience as an author of historical works back in 2008. It still ranks as one of the most raw and revealing looks at writing and publishing history.

Here are summaries and highlights of the first four posts of that series. Each is worth a read.

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job.” Wittenberg discloses that he rarely received advances and the largest he received was $4,000, not enough for anyone to live on. In addition, the most Wittenberg made from selling books in a single year was $10,000. Most of his profits go toward more research and visiting battlefields.

Not Every Book Is Worthy of Publication.” Wittenberg offers multiple stories of books he reviewed and rejected as a publisher. He even offers up one of his own that he did not want published.

Be Careful What You Wish For. You Just Might Get It.” Wittenberg emphasizes the need to have people review your work. When you receive their feedback, you should do it with no ego, as their feedback may be difficult to hear, but is necessary for your work.

It’s All About the Marketing, Stupid.” Wittenberg reveals how most (not all!) publishers struggle with marketing. He stresses, “It falls upon the author to sell his or her own book. You’ve got to get out there and sell it.”

In the next post, we’ll cover the rest of Wittenberg’s commentary on writing and publishing history.

By Scott Manning
Online Learning Tips, Student Contributor

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