Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Ten: Wrapping Up

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This is the tenth and final week I will be presenting tips to new writers and authors. I hope the ten weekly posts were helpful and something you can come back to. At least, it gives you an idea of what to expect in the publishing world. As reiterated many times, no course or book can teach you everything to learn about publishing. Practical experience and recognition as an author and writer are the best teachers.

A good writer knows how to write. A great writer not only knows how to write well, but will give direction and guidance to others. This advice is offered freely. I don’t proclaim to be an expert; I still have lots to learn too.

Five years of writing and publishing led me down this path. A path I did not choose; it chose me. To wrap up this week, I offer several suggestions:

  1. Look at alternate publishers before you select a publisher. Do your research beforehand and ask questions. You might find another publisher who does work less expensively than another and/or you get more profits (including royalties) from book sales.
  2. Remember to get everything you expect in writing before you sign a contract. If not in writing, then it is your word against the publisher or marketer. Once you sign a contract, you are bound to their regulations and procedures. Legally, you usually have 7 to 10 days to cancel the contract.
  3. Talk to your book consultant if any questions about the publishing process. Usually, they can advise about complimentary copies of your book(s) or marketing services offered. *Note – I find marketing services to be more expensive than publishing sometimes, depending on the service offered, so choose wisely. This seems true for self-publishing, as well as traditional publishing.
  4. Please note that once you publish a book, you are placed on a calling list. If it gets too annoying, you may want to ask the publisher to be removed from the list. If they say the list came from a website like Amazon, please ask to be connected to their customer service or a manager.
  5. Continue to market your book(s) online. Social media is a great way to advertise your book(s) online and very affordable. Shout my Book will market your book(s) on social media inexpensively. They will do as many books as you want daily or monthly (at a small fee, of course).
  6. Keep in contact with other writers. Seek a writer’s group or an organization for writers that meet monthly to discuss their books. This is an excellent opportunity to not only do some advertising, but to get advice from other writers.
  7. Keep getting your name out there – mail book markers, postcards or business cards to potential interested readers, like family, acquaintances or friends. This can get expensive with postage and takes time; however, it’s gets your name and title of your book(s) out to the mainstream public.
  8. Ask businesses (depending on the type of business) that know you if they would post a flyer of your book on their window. Usually, it is best if you are a customer or they’re acquainted with you.
  9. In retrospect, see if these businesses would let you market your book(s) through a book signing. You would be surprise. They might say yes.
  10. Keep hanging in there – never give up. Enjoy the writing process as you write that next “best seller” one day.  Simply, just have fun with it.

There are many more suggestions, but I feel it would be too repetitious in words. This project started out as your idea, your creation and your book. It is your baby. When I publish a book, I feel like I have given birth to a new creation.

Please keep in touch and if you have any questions, I am here to help. I may not be able to answer all your questions, but I will attempt to find out the answer for you. In the meantime, have a wonderful week and hope to be reading your best-seller soon.

 

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Nine: On Your Way!

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For new writers, it is an uncertain destiny. You’ve written and published your first book. Where do you go from here?  Often, it is soul-searching. Remembering back to when I first began to write books, I was mystified as to which direction to go toward. It wasn’t much longer, that I wrote another book. From then on, I was hooked and started writing my third book shortly afterward.

I would suggest to just enjoy the ride. It is hard work to constantly monitor your book sales, but being well-organized is half the battle. Whatever you do, it is important to stay upbeat and positive in the process. Your door will open oneday. It is also important to never give up! If writing is your passion and you love writing, stick with it, no matter what anybody says. After all, it is your life. Nobody else can live it for you.

Again, as previously mentioned, no course taught me these things. Rather, it was hands-on experience over time. I offer several suggestions for new writers and authors, which I feel may benefit you:

  1. Seek out other writers and authors both in social media and the community. The more you reach out to others, the more your writing skills are recognized. In this case, a monthly writers’ group would benefit, as they offer advice to new writers.
  2. Do some self-marketing and advertising. Everywhere I go, from restaurants to social events, I give at least one person my business card. It identifies you as a writer and where to find your book(s) online or publisher.
  3. Acknowledge that your book(s) will not sell overnight. Rather, it will take time and effort to build up an audience of interested readers.
  4. Establish yourself in your local community before spanning out to other areas. People will usually purchase something from someone they know or acquainted with, rather than a complete stranger.
  5. Do not get discouraged. It is easy to find discouragement along the way. Remember that there are thousands of writers competing against you for recognition and notiety.
  6. Keep your communication lines open. You never want to give all your personal information online. If you have an author’s website, that should give interested readers enough information to purchase your book(s). If using social media, like Twitter, Facebook or Google, set up a paypal or method that readers can purchase your book(s).
  7. Always look for alternate ways to market your book(s), such as online campaign ads or newspaper ads. You never know when literary agents, publishers and marketers might find interest in your book(s).
  8. Constantly look out for conferences or meetings in the community. There are some organizations that allow new writers to speak to their members. Contact local organizations to see when their next meeting is. Introduce yourself and that you are a new writer in the local area. You can also check with local bookstores for booksignings.

Next week, I will be wrapping up my weekly postings. I will be discussing how to expand your horizons into other areas of writing. More importantly, how to write and get paid for it.

 

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Eight: Branding Yourself as an Author

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What does branding mean? I don’t mean branding like cattle. “Branding” is identifying yourself as unique that sets you apart from other authors. The key is developing a brand that is targeted and focused. You need to determine what genre and style of writing you want to go with among your readers. For example, five years ago, I started out writing nonfiction books. By the third book, I changed to fiction. My last several books have been historical novels, based on actual events, but the characters are fictitious. The readers will be more impressed if you identify with one genre or style. If you are enthusiastic about science fiction, branding yourself to science fiction books goes further than skimming around genres. If you love poetry and poems, establishing yourself as a poet is beneficial. If you love children’s books, then establishing yourself as a writer of children’s books or educational books is essential.

As a new writer, it is important that you establish yourself as early as possible in a particular brand. Once recognized on social media, your name will go a long way. The more your name is put out there, the more you are recognized. It is more than social media and online advertising. It is actually getting out in the community and marketing yourself as a writer/author. I started off with a pen name and changed it to my legal name later on. Why? Upon the advice of the publisher, my first two books were more on a personal nature and self-closure. I didn’t want personal confidentiality to get out to the mainstream public. I did that to protect my family and family members. But on the lighter spectrum, it allowed me to self-heal on the inside.

So, how do I get started as a new writer/author? I had issues with establishing myself as a writer/author of multiple books. Mine are mostly because of health/medical issues, but you are a young writer, trying to establish yourself in the community. My suggestion is to simply get out there. Pass your business cards around. Take extra cards with you to everywhere you visit. Remember, people will tend to buy books from someone they know or recognize rather than a total stranger. The very first thing is to listen to Sherry Beck Paprocki’s, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Branding Yourself. She provides a video on UTube that defines a branding story and how you can develop your own story. Stephen Hertz, managing director of interactive at Lavidge, offers four tips to authors who are new to social media. These tips help to get new authors started on social media.

  1. Claim your social profiles on all of the high traffic platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. It is important to register your information, no matter how active you are on each.
  2. Start out with short and simple posts so that you don’t overwhelm your readers or yourself. I realize that writers like to write, but remember less is more in this case.
  3. Find your biggest supporters on each platform and reach out to them for advice on the best way to approach that specific platform.
  4. Actively seek out feedback from your community of followers. This helps keep them engaged while providing you with valuable insights.

Next week, I will discuss scouting out different avenues of writing. Perhaps, you have decided in midstream to go from creative writing to free-lance writing. How do you get started? There are different avenues to consider and ways that you are even paid to write. Please stop in next week and you might find your answer. In the meantime, have a good weekend and enjoy this beautiful, sunny weather today.

 

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Seven: Independent (Self-Publishing) vs. Traditional Publishing

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This is the magic question every writer asks before publishing a book. My introduction to independent publishing started several years ago; a relative and a friend recommended the name of a publisher. Although I was skeptical at first, I contacted a well-known self-publishing company in the summer of 2013. The rest is history. I am a fanatic of self-publishing and know I made the right choice that best fits me. Often, the new writer has a decision to make of which method of publishing is right for him or her. A lot depends on the writer and what he or she is looking for. If you have a time-sensitive manuscript or looking at a particular time period, like to control your own decision-making of your book, then self-publishing might be the right choice for you, If you don’t have an online presence or don’t know how to find and reach readers, dislike social media, or want a publisher to handle marketing your book, then traditional publishing might be the better choice for you. Nether independent or traditional publishing are better than the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages, I believe.

So what is the difference between independent and traditional publishing? Traditional Publishing offers the author a contract to print, publish and sell your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the book sales. The publisher handles the marketing, distribution and warehousing for your book. In the traditional method of publishing, there is no expense to the author – mainstream publishers make a profit from the book sales.

Major advantages:

  • The publisher assumes all expenses for your book, including publishing, distribution and marketing services.
  • The author receives royalties from the book sales.
  • The publisher will be responsible for selling your book to bookstores and other retailers.

Major disadvantages:

  • The author gives the publisher the right to publish his or her book.
  • The publisher makes a profit from book sales.
  • The author gives some control of the publishing process to the publisher.
  • Traditional publishing may be very time-consuming and a lengthy process.

Through traditional publishing, it is highly recommended that the author find a literary agent. Before you do anything, you need to identify the category of your book. If writing non-fiction, a book proposal is needed with three sample chapters and a synopsis of each chapter. If writing fiction, a completed manuscript is needed. Next, you need to send a query letter to potential literary agents. Be sure to mention the synopsis of your book, the chapter summary, the market or audience of your book and a description (bio) of yourself.

Self-Publishing requires the author to invest his or her own money to produce, market, distribute and warehouse his or her book. The majority of work falls on the author’s shoulders and he or she pays for all the expenses. The author controls when the book is published, retains all rights to the book and receive 100% of the profits.

Major advantages:

  • The author controls when the book is published, distributed and marketed.
  • The author retains all rights to the book.
  • The author receives 100% of the profits from book sales, plus royalties.
  • Self-publishing may be more cost-effective than other publishing models.

Major disadvantages:

  • The author pays all expenses for publishing, distributing and marketing the book.
  • All printing costs are paid by the author.
  • The author is mostly responsibility for selling to bookstores and other retailers.
  • This may require a huge time commitment by the author.

As I have emphasized every week, always do your homework and research before starting any project. This shows that you are knowledgeable about the subject and know at least some of what you are discussing. I have listed some resources that might help new authors and writers get started:

  1. Authorhouse Publishers, Inc. Author Learning Center for Self-Publishers, Bloomington, IN.
  2. Brewer, Robert Lee. 2011 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition, F & W Media, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, 2010. Email: WritersMarket.com
  3. Larsen, Michael. How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th Edition Ebook, accessed June 8, 2018.
  4. Reedsy, How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps, accessed June 12, 2018. Email: https://reedsy.com
  5. Writers Digest Shop, How to Publish a Book: An Overview of Traditional & Self-Publishing, accessed June 8, 2018.
  6. Writer’s Market: Where & How to Sell What you Write, 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, accessed June 8, 2018.

Next week, I will be discussing how to sell yourself (brand) as a new writer and author. You need to be recognized locally throughout the community as an author. It is a competitive world out there, but do not get discouraged. Determination and perseverance are the keys to attaining success and maintaining it. Most importantly, you need to relax and enjoy the writing process along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Six: What Comes Next?

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You worked hard on your manuscript. It has been submitted to the publisher. If you are self-publishing, it generally takes two to three weeks to publish. Your book is first submitted to a check-in book coordinator. Once the content of your manuscript is approved (usually 24 to 48 hours), it goes into the design stage. This is when your front and back covers are designed and the interior text as well. This stage can last up until you finish all corrections or revisions of your final manuscript. Once you have made corrections and revisions (if any), you will approve the final layouts of the covers and text. Your book then goes into the production stage, whereby it is ready for the printers. This stage takes anywhere from a week to two weeks usually. Once completed, you will be sent a complimentary copy or copies of your newly published book. This is your time to start promoting your book. We have covered many of the marketing strategies in the previous week. There are some suggestions that you might find effective doing this time:

  1. Promote your new book through word of mouth to acquaintance, friends and family members. They are most familiar with your written work and writing skills.
  2. Network an interest to readers through your blog, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc) or email.
  3. Set up a time at a local book store to introduce yourself as a new author. You can usually email to set up a time and date.
  4. Book signings are important as it introduces you as a new writer/author to the community. Set up a time and date through advertising and/or a local newspaper – it will also promote book sales.
  5. Advertise your new book in the local newspaper. You can contact the newspaper for costs. Usually, week-long ads will be more costly. It may be more cost-effective to set up once monthly or weekends only.
  6. Send an article about yourself and writing experience with a photo to the local newspaper. This could be less costly than advertising your book.
  7. Look at local organizations and clubs for times to speak about your book. This gives an outlet to be recognized in your community as a new writer/author.
  8. Explore radio stations to set up an interview talking about your book. Be adamant and set up a time and date.
  9. Set up an author’s website with your new book. You can add additional books as well. Ask the publisher if they have this marketing service.
  10. Marketing is costly, but you may want to ask the publisher about online campaign ads.
  11. Find other local writers and authors in the area by joining a writers’ club. They meet monthly and offer advice to new writers and authors. In addition, you get to meet others that share your same passion of writing.
  12. If you received a marketing kit from the publisher, send out postcards to persons that might be interested in your new book.

As always, do your homework beforehand. I like to research online before starting a project. Next week, I will be discussing some differences between independent publishing and traditional publishing. Seems like a broken record, but it is valuable to you as a new writer and author.

No One Said Life Was Easy

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I’m sitting at the computer and not sure what to write. It has been an eventful week already. I got a good report from my neurologist on Tuesday.  The shakiness and weakness I’ve been feeling was not due to my new rituxan infusions; it was more viral in nature, according to my doctor. Rituxan is used to treat certain chronic auto immune disorders and blood disorders/cancers, like leukemia and Non-Hodkins Lymphoma.

I have been falling lately (knees buckle) and getting dizzy while standing up for the past few weeks. I’ve also been bedridden this past week. I thought it was a reaction to my previous infusion in May, but the doctor had a difference in opinion. Although my neurologist is a very good doctor and now Director of Neurology, I still feel some of this illness was caused by the new infusions. There could have been a virus ‘bug’ as well.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that one has to be their best advocate. The individual knows his or her body best. I knew that I felt different after infusions. The doctor advised I was getting standard medication in appropriate increments, both in quantity and frequency. Yet, it is unlikely I will be going off rituxan anytime soon or in the near future.

“No one said life was easy.” This is a true statement. Life gets tough sometimes; we just need to roll with the punches. At times, there is discouragement; even I get discouraged, but find myself bouncing back. I’m not ready to leave this earth yet. I’m still believing that one day there will be a possible cure for my autoimmune disease and cancer. You have to believe in yourself with God’s help and wisdom to get through the tough times.

The other thing I realize is that one has to stop playing the victim role. A perfect example is myself. I don’t want to identify with my disease, rather it is something I can overcome someday. The important concept is to simply enjoy life – even as it comes. There will be rocky roads and bumps along the way with twists and turns. However, one can overcome them with determination.

The mind is a powerful weapon. I have learned the brain and the mind are two different things (Dr. Caroline Leaf). The brain is a physical vortex, which coordinates speech, mobility, language and other various functions within our body, whereas the mind is what one perceives. Physical and emotional healing can come through the mind. I see myself walking normally one day without assistance or support, strength in my muscles and nerves are healed.

The most important thing is to not get down when life doesn’t always go your way. God is in control. He will lead us out of this ‘valley’ of discouragement and conflict. Don’t listen to others that criticize or belittle you. Always follow your heart and don’t give up your dreams for anyone or anything. Take a breather and do something for yourself today – take a walk in a pretty setting, go to the park, watch a new movie at the theater, get a haircut or new hairstyle or enjoy watching the sunset. In summary, be well and happy, my friends.

 

 

 

 

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Five: Marketing Strategies

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Whether it took weeks, months or even years to publish that long-awaited book, you spent long hours writing at the computer and sleepless nights to finish your book. Your days and time were filled with writing, proofreading, revising and correcting the final manuscript before submission to the publisher. What comes next? It usually takes two to three weeks to publish, depending on the publisher. This is a good time for you to look at marketing strategies to advertise your book(s). If you are well ahead of the game, you may have already planned a marketing strategy or a few before your book is published. If you are a sharp-shooter, you know the complexity of marketing strategies and planning beforehand.

Social media and online websites help, but more is needed. Blogging is also an excellent way to network and connect to the outside world. A good place to start is by word of mouth. Family members and friends will be interested, simply as they are connected to you. It is a good idea to give a few books away as gifts. This gives others an incentive to find interest in your book(s); it gives them a free invitation. If you are new to the publishing world and unfamiliar with marketing strategies, there are a variety of routes you can take. My suggestion is to ask the publisher if they offer a marketing service. If they do, they can advise which package best fits your needs. There are some other suggestions:

  1. There is great importance in connecting to the community and local residents. Advertising through book signings and sales at local book stores. This can include speaking at groups or organizations about your book(s). The more you get out in your community, the more you are recognized. Hence, the more readers you attain to increase book sales, your main focus at this point.
  2. Speaking at radio stations about your book(s). A drawback is that some people feel uncomfortable speaking publicly. A confident speaker will sell more than the shy speaker lacking in enthusiasm and articulation.
  3. Look at online campaign ads. Amazon and Ingram offer website ads. Ask your publisher if they have that particular marketing service. They are familiar with the marketing procedures of contacting various websites, not known to the general public.
  4. Place an ad in a local flyer or newspaper. The cost will depend on how much space you want. Ask for weekly or monthly discounts. Photos of the writer/author and book(s) are recommended.
  5. Send an article to the local newspaper about yourself, your writing experience and publications. Send a photo of yourself with the article. This can be done inexpensively.
  6. Look at magazine ads to advertise your book(s). You can buy space in a Writers’ Magazine. The cost usually depends on whether you select a full page or half a page. This includes the writer’s biography and publications.
  7. There are annual book fairs. Ask your publisher if they have a list of book fairs around the country. The Miami Book Fair in the springtime offers an opportunity for new or unknown writers/authors to display their books on their racks.
  8. There are social media packages available; however, you can advertise for free on most social media websites, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
  9. If you already have an author’s website, you can connect your blog to the website. Also included is information about the author, excerpts from the book(s) and price of each book. Ask your publisher if they can assist you with this marketing service.
  10. Some publishers may offer an international package, whereby your book is placed on their racks during their annual book fairs. There are drawbacks, however. If you are unable to travel, you have no way to monitor sales unless your book consultant monitors it for you. In addition, it is quite costly to advertise internationally.
  11. There are online videos of authors talking about their book(s). This gives the author a chance to market and advertise. Ask your publisher if they offer this marketing service.
  12. Media, meaning public television. This is very expensive and above most of writers/authors’ salaries. Unless you are a well-established or famous writer, this is probably the last alternative. Most media advertising starts at several thousand up and based on time (minutes or seconds).

Five years ago, I had no idea of marketing strategies, other than advertising online. I admit that writing was an easy process for me; yet, marketing was another thing. I had no concept of a marketing strategy to advertise my books. As I became more familiar with the publishing world, I gathered information on different marketing strategies and advertising. I can’t say one is better over the other. They are all good avenues to pursue. You may explore some marketing strategies before exploring others.

An important concept is to be recognized as an accomplished writer in your community. Book sales will increase as you gather more experience and knowledge. The old saying, “it is not what you know, but who you know” has some truth to it. You not only learn a valuable skill, you might find writing as a successful career. There are different fields of writing: screenwriting, free-lance, creative, poetic, literature, educational, self-help, general and research. The list goes on and on. The most important concept is to enjoy the writing process along the way and be happy of your accomplishments.

 

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Four: Finalizing Your Draft

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This is one of the most important steps in the writing process. This  is your final draft of the manuscript. During this step, the second or third pair of eyes become essential. If self-publishing, you want a squeaky clean manuscript, free of errors. Once finalized, it will not be corrected without costs. Note – some publishers will allow up to 25 to 50 free corrections before publishing. However, this doesn’t include publisher errors (e.g., printing). Please see the publisher’s guidelines for submission of your final draft.

Before you submit your manuscript to the publisher, you will select what type package you want (hardcover, softcover or both, e-book, etc). Hardcover includes the bound cover with dust jackets, whereas softcover is the paperback. E-books are available online to be downloaded. If you have written a book before and using the same publisher, ask about discounts. Some publishers will allow up to half off for a second book or additional books. The check-in coordinator will discuss with you about any questions you might have. In this stage, you will select what type genre, age range (audience) or package (condensed or dust jackets, also called flaps for hardcover).

Publishing multiple books in a five-year period, I find there are some helpful hints not necessarily known to the general public:

  1. Once the draft is finished, thoroughly review your draft before submission. This includes any typos, spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. Remember, Spellcheck and other software programs will not catch 100% of the errors.
  2. I suggest having at least one reader read your final draft before submission. I found in my last book, out of 424 pages, I still had three errors when published. A second or third person can catch errors that the writer doesn’t catch.
  3. If self-editing, read through the manuscript yourself and correct errors. You may need to revise or even rewrite some parts that don’t flow well within the manuscript.
  4. If professionally editing, then allow up to two months to receive final draft back. There will be suggestions and/or corrections to make. Note – editing is not free nor cheap and is based on how many pages (or words) the manuscript contains.
  5. Once you make corrections and satisfied with the final draft, combine chapters into one document. Note – most publishers will not accept separate chapters. Rather, they want the total manuscript. Even if they do allow, I find it causes more confusion and more work to go back to correct.
  6. If self-publishing, the writer will be given one chance to look over the final draft from the publisher before approval. Once approved by you, the final draft is submitted for publication. Note – once you send the final approval, the manuscript goes into the publishing stage. No changes can be made afterwards, unless you are willing to pay for corrections.
  7. Most publishers prefer that the writer submit the manuscript by email. In some cases, it can be mailed or faxed, but that is difficult, especially with a lengthy manuscript. Please see the publisher’s guidelines for submission of your manuscript.
  8. It usually takes up to two or three weeks to publish. The writer will receive a free complimentary copy of the book. If you selected both hardcover and softcover, you will receive a copy of both. Please look over the book and make sure no publisher errors were made (misprints, blurring or spacing errors, etc). It is best to correct when the printing is fresh rather than go back later.
  9. The writer will be given a chance to order a maximum number of free copies once published; only shipping charges are applied. My publisher allows 5 hardcover and 10 softcover books. Publishers may vary in the number of free copies allowed; please check with your publisher for details.

Once your book is published, congratulations, you have now become a new author. Enjoy the accomplishment of a finished product. More importantly, enjoy the writing process. Writing was an adventure that started out as self-therapy for closure to painful events in my past. The first time I published, I was fearful, but over the years, I became more confident in my writing. Now, I love the writing process in publishing books for readers to enjoy.

Next week, I will discuss marketing strategies. Going into publishing five years ago, I was blind about marketing. I struggled as an unknown author. It is just as important to have a marketing strategy and a plan to advertise your book(s). Marketing is expensive and there are some ways to advertise your book(s) without costing an arm and a leg. I find social media and networking works some, but it takes more effort. The writer has to get out there to the public to be recognized.

Tune in to my blog weekly. If you are a new writer and/or author yourself or know someone who is, please refer them to my blog. In the meantime, Happy Memorial Day to all veterans and everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Three: Preparation of the Initial Draft of Your Manuscript

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I stand in correction about copyright law (thanks Ray) from the discussion last week. Even though traditional publishers do take some control of your book, they do not take over copyrights. Rather, it is the creation itself. For example, if you post online on your blog, it is considered published. It should not be reproduced (copied) unless given permission by the writer. A similar concept with a published written work or a book. Once published, it is considered copyrights of the writer/author and can not be reproduced. It is the monetary gains in courtrooms that intensify the legal battles of what is considered “copyrights” or not.

I will discuss traditional vs. independent publishing in oncoming weeks. Frankly, I feel there are pros and cons of each one. My personal preference is self-publishing; however, I do not advocate one over the other. For now, I will stick to what I know firsthand: the process of writing and getting your book published.

We have discussed naming your book and creating the plot (storyline) in prior weeks. However, there are certain things to determine before writing the manuscript. There are two parts of writing your manuscript: the initial draft and the final draft. Most publishers will send guidelines for preparing and submitting your manuscript. If you have questions, please contact the publishing consultant assigned to your book. There are some guidelines I feel may be helpful in preparing your manuscript:

  1. The first thing is to consider what type genre (history, self-help, inspirational, religious, poetry or general, etc) your book is about. Is it fictional (story, novel) or nonfictional (autobiography, true facts or true story)? Who will be your audience and what age range do you want to reach?
  2. Consider the font style and pica format. Some publishers prefer the standard New Times script and 12 pica in Word Document. These should be included in their general guidelines.
  3. Indentations are determined whether you want the standard 5 or 3-tab indentation. Also, if single or double-spaced between lines and paragraphs. You may also do 1.5 spacing. Again, that will depend on the type of book you are writing. Poetry, for example, will have a different format and/or sequence of writing.
  4. I find writing chapters individually before combining chapters is easier to go back to correct and revise. There may be portions of your manuscript you may want to rewrite. Always read through each chapter to check if script sounds smooth and flowing. If not, you may have to revise or rewrite.
  5. Do not number your pages beforehand. The publisher will number as the length of the book will be longer with additional appendages. This includes the Table of Contents Page also – do not number pages before submitting.
  6. The very first page should include the Title Page, which includes the title of the book and the name of the author or pen name. You want to write Acknowledgments to give credit to those who helped in publication of your book. Dedications are optional, but may be included.
  7. Formats may vary with each writer, but I find an Introduction or Prologue useful. The Introduction can be short, but enough detail about the book. The Prologue or Chapter One should be more descriptive and give explicit details.
  8. Forewords usually go along well with proven writers/authors. Yet, someone who is familiar with your written work may write a Foreword or a Blurb for your book. I submit a Blurb on the back cover for this purpose. Adding an author’s photograph is nice too, where readers will recognize you.
  9. Always reference where you are getting information for your book. These can include References, Notes or Bibliography at the back of your book.
  10. End with an Epilogue explaining the conclusion or related to your book. For example, if writing a historical novel, write something concerning that era or the story you have written.
  11. At the very back of the book, you many want to include an About The Author page. This will include your biography, your writing experience and other publications (if applicable).
  12. If nothing else, always go through the initial draft with a fine-tooth comb. Some spell-checkers will not correct all spelling or punctuation errors. This includes grammar errors too. Please note that if you are self-publishing, the publisher is not interested in correcting your manuscript, unless you have paid for professional editing.

Next week, I will finish with submitting your final draft to the publisher. This is an important step, as once you approve and submit your final draft, no more changes can be made without a charge.

Please respond with any comments or feedback. Remember, any opinions or statements posted, are just opinions. I do not feel that any responses are wrong, just different in thought or opinion.

Tips for New Writers and Authors – Week Two: Creating a Plot (Storyline)

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Last week, we looked at naming your book. The title is an important part in marketing and advertising your book. In addition, to promoting your book over the network. Each part is one step closer to creating your book and producing a finished product. This week, we will start by creating your plot, also called a storyline. A plot is simply the series of main events or sequence of events in the story. I believe there are two major issues defined: what you want to happen in the story and what you want to get across to readers. More so, it is the actual experience of writing that gives knowledge and better writing with each additional book written. I start out each story with two main questions: what do I want the reader to see (messages written between the lines) and how do I carry over the plot to present the characters in the story? While there are no definite guidelines written in concrete, it is wise to be prepared. I have added some suggestions in which to start your plot:

  1. It is important to start out describing to readers basic descriptions, such as events, location, surroundings or time period. You don’t need to be too wordy or obsessive with words; however, be rather explicit.
  2. Begin with either an Introduction or a Prologue describing where the story is taking place, main character(s), dates or time period, etc. This will initially describe what you are conveying to your readers. What are you trying to tell them? For example, if writing a historical novel, you may want to include some historical events as well.
  3. The Prologue or Chapter One can lead the storyline into the book. The emphasis here is on guiding the plot into an easier written manuscript. Often, that starts the rest of the story and makes the manuscript flow easier. The manuscript is the initial script you are writing for your book or novel. I will be discussing finalizing your manuscript in later weeks.
  4. Write down important dates, locations, events or names in the story to refer back to. If you have a photographic memory, you may be okay in this area.
  5. There are times you may want to use what I call fillers. These are parts of a script or a chapter that aren’t in sequence, but are used later on in the manuscript. For example, if using a trial scene in your book, you may want to write the scene beforehand and go back later to add it to a chapter.
  6. Sometimes, I find writing the ending or conclusion first is easier, then going back afterward to write the rest of the manuscript. It is a guideline to what I want to say and where I want the plot to go. There are exceptions to this. If you are a very organized person, you probably can write from beginning to ending in sequence with no trouble.
  7. Write the story with little or no other distractions. If you are prone to distractions, write at a time that best suits you. If you are a morning person, write solely in the morning. If you are an afternoon or evening person, adjust your time accordingly to write. Turn the apps, radio, stereo, dvd player, headphones and television off. There shouldn’t be any other noise in the room, except your fingers working at the keyboard.
  8. Allow yourself time to finish the story. As I mentioned last week, there is no maximum time to complete your book. I would say three to six months is a reasonable time to complete it. Allow more time if having professional editing done or an illustrator for children’s books. If you are good with the English language and proficient in writing, you are probably okay with self-editing instead.

Next week, I will be discussing general guidelines used by the publisher. I can only go by independent publishing. Traditional publishing would be a different ballgame. It is time-consuming and you do sign over copyrights of your written work(s). Self-publishing allows more control of your book.

I love the responses and feedback I have received so far. Please keep the posts coming. That is the difference between an average and a good writer. A great writer will share her/his experiences with others in order for them to learn. These were things I learned along the way – thus, no one taught me these or no course was sought on writing. It took five years and will probably take several more years to learn everything in the writing process. Hopefully, these tips will make it a little easier for new authors and writers.