Practical advice on writing and publishing  for aspiring authors
Dear Author Enablers,
I am 13 years old and I am writing a book series. I already wrote the first one. And I was wondering how exactly to become a published author? And how to publish my book?
Amanda Barksdale
Blanchard, Oklahoma

In April we performed with the Rock Bottom Remainders in support of the Philadelphia Free Library. That night we met a 13-year-old named Andrew who is doing the most important thing any writer can—reading a lot of great books. Andrew happens to be a major Stephen King fan (he read Under the Dome in two weeks), but you can read anything in the world that excites and interests you. So in between writing your series, don’t forget to wander over to your local library and find some great books to read. The librarian can also help you find books that will guide you through the craft of writing and the process of finding the right publisher for your work.

Dear Author Enablers,
I am writing my first novel, but I have my doubts on what to do when I’m done. Should I get an agent to find me a publisher who will do the editing, find a good self-publishing deal that includes editing, or just do an e-book, since e-books are the new thing now? Any ideas?
Vanessa Colon
Norwich, Connecticut

First things first, Vanessa—you need to finish the darn novel, which includes doing plenty of your own editing. Polish it as much as you can and then show it to a few reliable readers, people who appreciate good writing and can be trusted to give constructive criticism. Pay attention to their comments, especially if several agree on the same points, and then revise the manuscript as needed.

Then you have an important choice to make: If you want your book distributed widely to bookstores, it is still necessary to go the traditional publishing route. If you have the resources to produce, market, publicize and sell your books on your own, then self-publishing makes sense. You’ll find a lively conversation on our BookPage blog (on the post  “The Pros and Cons of Publish America”) about some of our readers’ experiences with one self-publishing company.

Dear Author Enablers,
How can I use Facebook to promote my book? I have a lot of “friends” who might be interested in buying it and in telling other people about it. My subject is hiking and trails. I am the founder of the 1200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.
Ron Strickland
Bedford, Massachusetts

Not only can you use Facebook to promote your book, you must use Facebook to promote your book—not to mention Twitter and your blog and YouTube and Fwix and Redroom and FiledbyAuthor and and MySpace. . . .
Sorry, that was Sam, who works for an imprint of HarperCollins, where he and his colleagues are constantly thinking about how to use “social media” (if by social media you mean sitting alone in your room playing with electronic gadgets all day long) to promote books.

Kathi [edging Sam out of the way] is more of the “get out there and meet people” school, but she still thinks Facebook is a good marketing tool, and she has more friends than Sam. You can build a fan page on Facebook for your book, which is quite easy to do. (Sam did this for his own book.) If your book has a visual component, you can create a gallery for pictures, or link to videos on YouTube. And of course, feature your book cover and links to buy (remember IndieBound, the website for independent bookstores).

Email questions to Kathi and Sam. Please include your name and hometown. You can find more advice on their blog.

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