• Some teachers/writers recommend writing every day, 7 days a week to keep the material at the top of your mind. It's important to have some designated time that is set aside for your creative writing -- as opposed to your freelance journalism. The most important thing is to get seated at the computer.
• Either submit your manuscript to a bunch of agents or a bunch of publishers. It's usually best not to mix it up. Also, self-publishing is nifty, but your first choice is definitely having a publisher.
• It is very common for writers to want to be done with a manuscript (or proposal) when it isn't really ready, so they send it off, thinking the agent or editor will help them give it a final shape. But editors and agents don't do that anymore. They will move on to the next manuscript that is ready. Publishers, like newspapers, have neither the time nor the budgets they once had.
• However, you can go to writers conferences and pitch your partly finished book to agents and editors to get some feedback and tips – and maybe even an invitation to submit the proposal when it's ready.
• Classes, conferences, writing groups, and such are invaluable. Classes in creative non-fiction are helpful for newspaper journalists wishing to write a book. Check out the classes at Book Passage, UC extension, city recreation departments, the Writing Salon, the Writers Grotto, Community of Writers at Squaw (and other residential conferences).
Bottom line? “If you want to write a book, do it!” Barbara says. “It's very rewarding. It makes you grow as a writer and a person. It lets you leave your mark. And if you have something big to say, it's a great way to say it. And it's just lovely to hold your book in your hand.”
– Barbara Falconer Newhall