Know Pain, Know Gain ~ Jay Rooke

Jay Rooke


Words of caution for first-time book authors

Posted on June 5, 2019 by Jay Rooke


So, you want to write a book? I recently got to interview Karen Rowe, a ghost writer and writing coach who helps aspiring authors write their first books.

As a child, I distinctly remember watching 60 Minutes, where the late Andy Rooney would wrap up the hour by delivering some insightful snarky commentary that often sounded like five minutes of “get off my lawn!” – but one particular episode still stands out for me. With his classic cantankerous tone, he said something to the effect of “You know, it fascinates me when someone retires and you ask them what they’re going to do with their time? And they say, well, now that I’ve got all this time on my hands, I might write a book. As if that’s all it took to be able to write a book – time!”

Karen Rowe: ‘Self-published books are the world’s most expensive business cards.’

During my conversation with Karen, Andy Rooney’s commentary was on my mind the entire time – what does it really take to become an author?  

I was born in a long-forgotten era known as the 1900s, where to be a published author was a laudatory credential and carried a certain celebrity or professorial-level cache. My how things have changed! Changed for the better because you can self-publish and SO many more people have been given a platform and a voice; changed for the worst, because, well…now anyone can write a book. (And have you ever noticed how EVERYONE is a “best-selling author” now?) Rant over.

Back to Karen – she said, “The first thing you want to do before you ever even start writing is ask yourself: what is your end game with the book? If the victory for you is just in getting the book out there and published, then that would be a different approach than someone who is looking to leverage it as a tool to build and grow their business or build and grow their client base.

One of the biggest mistakes I see first-time authors make is that they’re so focused on writing the book that they write and write, and they get to the end and say, now what?” 

Karen shared that most first-time authors think writing the book is the hard part. “It’s actually not. Writing the book is only 50% of the process. The other 50% is how you market it.”

If you think you’ve got a book in you, I’m going to assume that time is not in abundance, so here are some of the main takeaways from our conversation:

  • There’s NO money in writing a book! (A business coach of mine refers to self-published books as “the world’s most-expensive business cards.”)
  • If you do it all by yourself, it takes on average 400 hours to write a book!
  • In terms of both time and money, writing a book is a major investment, and needs to be approached as such.
  • Know WHY you’re pursuing getting published – is it to brand you, get additional followers, is it a legacy project, etc? There are different strategies based on your why.

Karen has a 12-week course to help burgeoning authors cross the finish line and get their books written. You can check it out at To hear my full interview with Karen, go to


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