A writer lives within each of us, but your inner writer needs to know how to get from the creative process, through editing your book and to publishing before seeing your book on shelves for customers.
Wayne Drumheller, author of 12 self-published books, led “Writing, Editing and Publishing a Book” at Waynesboro Public Library on Wednesday afternoon.
“It is the little stuff that makes you look unprofessional,” said Drumheller of publishing.
The book editor and photojournalist is based in Burlington and Brevard, North Carolina, but grew up in Rockfish Valley and graduated Nelson County High School.
His workshop focused not on the potential content of a writer’s book, but on how to create a book that is professional and publishable.
“Today what we’re going to work on is everything else people get in trouble for,” Drumheller said of reasons why writers do not get published. “It’s not your story, it’s something else.”
According to Drumheller, the first don’t aspiring writers should avoid could be on the cover of their book. He encouraged writers to give their book cover the “55-mile-an-hour test.” If you cannot read the title from 10 feet away, your cover is not working for you.
The most important page of a book is the cover. As a photographer, Drumheller does the covers for his own books, but he even has had to learn from his mistakes. The original cover for his 2018 book “Blue Mountain Highway Home” contained a photo he took of a girl. The book is set in 1963 and 1964, but the girl in the photo was wearing a modern pair of Nike tennis shoes.
Drumheller said that certain details are important.
“It’s easier to critique and criticize than to create,” he said.
“Blue Mountain Highway Home” went on to be a National Novel Writing Month winner.
Another page that makes a writer’s book miss out on getting shelved is the title page, also called the legal page. Drumheller said this page contains the author’s copywright and the book’s ISBN number.
“And usually [the title page] is only four or five lines. It is not enough,” Drumheller said. He added that the title pages of his books he works on a lot before publishing.
An ISBN number designates a book’s nation of origin, whether it is a hardcover or paperback copy, its price, its publishing format and 23 other facts unique to that book.
A medical epiphany in 2010 brought Drumheller, who served in the U.S. Army as a photographer, to writing and publishing.
At 2 a.m. one night he went to get a glass of water, felt dizzy and passed out in his kitchen floor. His heart rate had dropped.
He said that he made two promises to God that if he lived he would first write a book he had been wanting to write for years, “Appalachian Sunrise,” and he would help others to write.
“I wanted to do something with this gift I have,” he said. Drumheller now has a pacemaker to regulate his heart rate.
“But I don’t think that if I hadn’t had that [happen] I wouldn’t have started writing,” Drumheller said.
Earl Hamner Jr., creator of the TV series “The Waltons,” proofed Drumheller’s first book, “A Rockfish Valley Poet and His Camera,” and bought 250 copies of the book for friends.
Drumheller is the founder of the Creative Book Writers Project. He said he conducted a workshop like Wednesday’s in May at Waynesboro Public Library that was attended by 27 aspiring writers. Seven of the workshop’s participants have already published books. He encouraged Wednesday’s 10 participants that it is possible to get their books written and published in three to six months.
“You got to know where you are in your writing,” Drumheller said.
Drumheller said a writer will know when he is getting it right during the editing process when he is getting the nerve to publish his book.
Rebecca Lamb, adult services librarian at the Waynesboro Public Library said that the library has a tradition of supporting local writers.
“A lot of us think we can write a book,” she said, and Drumheller’s workshop gives aspiring writers the chance to learn about the process.
For more information about writing workshops with Drumheller, visit www.waynedrumheller.com.