Excerpt from WRITE YOUR FIRST BOOK
Dear Aspiring Author,
Writing a novel or non-fiction book is hard work. But don’t let that stop you.
If you have a story to tell or knowledge of a topic that hasn’t been written about before (or even if it has) then the best way to begin is by getting those ideas down in a notebook or on computer and continuing from there. What I’ll show you in this book is how to start and finish your book. How to publish your book and what steps you need to take to sell your book.
I wish I had this information when I first started writing and publishing because it would have saved me a lot of time, money, energy, and frustration.
Yes, as an indie author, it’s up to you to publish your own book but it will be worth it in the end, especially when you hold that first paperback copy in your hand and tears of joy well in your eyes. And they will. All of your hard work has finally paid off and you have a tangible book in your grasp to prove it.
No matter how overwhelmed you might feel right now, by the time you read to the end of this guide you will know exactly what to do to get your story from page to publication and into the hands of readers worldwide. Yes, you read that right. Worldwide!
The one thing you must keep in mind is that if you don’t start you’ll never finish. Don’t think about writing, don’t talk about writing, don’t even dream about writing… Just write! WRITE!
I’m not going to give you a long spiel about being an how ever many times published indie author, or nominated for this award or that award because that’s not why we’re here. Although it would more than likely give you the confidence you need to begin your writing journey and the trust in me to help you get to where you want to go. If you’d like to find out more about me and my books you can do so here: http://www.m-anderson.com.au. What I can tell you is it’s a long, creative process that requires dedication, discipline, and allocated time. If you don’t make the time to write your book it will never get written or published. So make a conscious choice to set aside time to write each and every day.
If you’re a morning person, get up an hour or two earlier than usual and write before you go to work or whatever it is that you are doing during the day. And, of course, if you’re an evening person turn off that TV show or addictive game and begin, and continue until your book is finished.
So let’s get started. Good luck on your journey to becoming a published, indie author.
ONE: How To Begin Your Writing Journey
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” Terry Pratchett
So, you’ve decided those voices in your head need a space other than in your brain to simmer and develop. The best place for your ideas is on paper or on the pages of your computer so that you can expand on your story or topic and get what you have to share out of the files in your mind and into the world where readers can find it. If you’ve been struggling with the notion of self-publishing a book but don’t think you have it in you… think again. All it takes is time and effort. And if you’re serious about seeing your book in print, you’ll do everything you can to finish it.
Emma Sumner, wrote her first book titled, The Fairies of Waterfall Island, at age seven (yes, you read that right) and published it by the time she turned eight. Matthew Reilly self-published his first novel, Contest, at age eighteen and was discovered by a talent scout from a well-known publishing house, and the rest, as they say, is history. Frances Murphy, aged 92, dreamed of publishing a cookbook, Mom Murphy’s Treasured Recipes, and finally did just that a year or so ago. If they can do it YOU CAN TOO!
The first thing you need is a story or topic idea. Sit down with pen and paper or index cards and brainstorm. Once you have an idea write an outline. Jot down all the relevant points to your plot or topic and, if it’s a fiction book, write down your character names and some details about them only you will know and set a date for when you want the book finished and stick to that deadline. When the outline is finished you’re on your way to creating your book.
For a first time author, I would suggest to write what you know. If you’re an expert on a topic for a non-fiction book write about it. If you love romance, drama or thrillers and have a good understanding of how to glue a plot together to produce a thrilling read write about that. Don’t try to write something you’re unfamiliar with as a first attempt because readers are very astute and will see right through the fluff and filler immediately.
The second thing you need is to understand the basics of setting up your manuscript. The specifics for a novel on an A4 page are: double spaced, Times New Roman or Courier New font 12 pt., normal margins (2.54 cm or 1 inch), and, of course, a coherent, cohesive story that has a beginning, middle, and an end without holes in the plot.
Write until you can’t write anymore then stop. Don’t read over it, don’t revise it, just leave it. Tomorrow is another day. The next time, which should be a planned hour or two the following day, sit down at your laptop or desktop and continue to write. Aim for a certain word count and work toward reaching it for that session. It might be 500 words or 1000 words, or more. It’s up to you. Just be sure to write until you can’t write anymore and stop. Again, don’t reread it, don’t revise it, just save it and close your computer. Continue this process until your manuscript is completed and you’ve typed THE END. Don’t worry if it seems like an overabundance of words… that’s what revisions are for (the average word count for different genres can be found in the Appendix).
Now comes the difficult part. The Revision.
If you don’t feel you have the capabilities to do this yourself find someone (a professional) who can. Don’t give it to a friend, neighbor or relative to go over because they’ll want to make you feel good about your work and won’t want to be totally honest with you. What can you expect? They love you and want to make you happy, but that isn’t going to help you with the errors in your work and producing a polished manuscript. You need someone who will tell it like it is… but gentle on the delivery.
Find a reputable proof reader/editor. REMEMBER: You get what you pay for. If you’re on a budget you will need to find the best person you can for the amount you have to spend.
Once your manuscript has been proofed/edited professionally, go through the suggestions and do the revisions, unless there is something specific that you’re not happy with, in which case you can discuss it with your editor and negotiate on a compromise. This process may take some time so be prepared for the long haul. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a book. It can take months to a year or even longer.
REVISE, REVISE, REVISE! AND THEN REVISE AGAIN!
I cannot stress this enough. There are many first time authors who think once they’ve written their first draft the book is ready to be published. This could not be further from the truth. A first draft is the bones of your story. Now it’s time to flesh it out and make it into an exciting book that readers will want to read.
If you want to be taken seriously as an author you need credibility. The only way you’ll gain this is by producing quality, polished, industry standard work. There are a number of indie authored books in the ocean of novels and non-fiction out there that are less than perfect and are seldom bought and read. Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure your book is as professionally finished as it can be before sending it out into the reader/book world. This can take quite some time so don’t be discouraged. Just continue to work on it until it’s completely ready to meet your audience. Your reputation depends on it and you’ll be glad you took the time to perfect your craft and produce something worth reading.
In the meantime, before your book is published, build interest (more about this in chapter three).
Once your manuscript is ready the next step is to template it into eBook and paperback formats (unless you only want to publish an eBook, of course). Again, if you are unsure about how to do this it’s in your best interest to pay a professional. You want to give your readers the best possible reading experience that you can and having your book properly templated will ensure that. Have you ever opened an eBook and started reading it only to find a third of the way through the formatting has gone awry and the text is uneven and distracting? It’s easy to find YouTube videos or instructions on the internet on how to template an eBook, but if you don’t follow those instructions to the letter an unprofessional finish will be the result. Don’t leave it to chance. Your hard work is worth it!
While your book is away being professionally templated it’s time to work out the details of your cover design. If you know how to use Photoshop or InDesign, are proficient with the process, and able to create quality graphics then by all means create your own cover. If not, find a professional cover designer. There are numerous sites on the internet that have premade covers for sale (some are listed in the Appendix at the back of this book) where you can pick up a cover at a reasonable cost or collaborate with the designer to create the cover of your choice. REMEMBER: less is more. Your cover image only needs to represent your story not tell it all in one confused collage of pictures. A professional, visually appealing cover is essential the first time around and will save you money in the long run! So choose wisely.
DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Check out the covers of other popular books in your genre or topic of interest and see what’s already available. Readers are specific when it comes to covers and if you deviate from the norm your book may be overlooked for another that readers feel more comfortable with. That doesn’t mean it has to look identical to others in the same genre or topic it just means you need to be aware of what readers are looking for and stick to a similar, eye-catching design.
Are you only publishing an eBook? If so, the cover will be easier to create. If not, you’ll need to design a complete book jacket for your paperback which includes front, spine, and back (more on this in chapter five).
When you finish your book ask yourself these questions: How do I feel now that I’ve completed my first draft? Am I completely happy with the length, topic or plot, chapters, characters, scenes, etc.? Are there any holes in the story? If you’re not content with what you’ve written, go through the manuscript again and rewrite or correct anything you feel needs work before sending it to your editor. You are the creator of your story and you have to be 100% happy with it before releasing it into the book world. It’s your creative baby – nurture it. And, remember, if you’re not happy with it readers won’t be either.
The next step is writing a compelling blurb that will pull readers into your story without giving away spoilers. You know your story inside out, from cover to cover, so find relevant plot points and create a short synopsis for the back of your paperback and the promotional page on the book site of your choice (if only an eBook). The best way to do this is to read the blurbs of other books in the same genre or topic you’ve chosen. Don’t copy them word for word (because that would be plagiarism) but make note of the points that drew you to that blurb and why.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE.
This is the blurb from Wolf Blood: A Moon Grove Paranormal Romance Thriller.
An isolated town, a near death escape, and a man she should stay away from…
When psychologist Paige O’Connell learns of her uncle’s untimely death, and discovers she’s his sole beneficiary, she moves back to the rural country township of Moon Grove where she was born to begin a new phase in her life. But it’s not the new beginning she is hoping for. The picturesque town is rife with sinister secrets and the unwelcoming residents want no part of her.
Soon after settling in, a series of bizarre events puts Paige’s life in jeopardy and when the police are called in she is drawn to tall, dark and handsome Eli Blackwood, the local Sheriff. The attraction between them is undeniable, but what she doesn’t know is he possesses dark secrets of his own.
Secrets can come at a costly price. Will Paige follow her instincts and keep her distance or will temptation pull her into the nightmare world she’s stepped into and seal her fate?
I hope this gives you an idea of how to create a compelling blurb that will have readers wanting to know more. This, along with an enticing cover, will be the difference between your book making sales or not. Don’t rush your blurb. Write a first draft (just like your manuscript) and go over it. Leave it. Then go over it again until you’re happy with it. I’ve become better at writing blurbs and usually only go over mine once before I’m happy with it. Previously, I would work on it many times before I got it to where I wanted it. Your blurb is an enticement for readers to want to buy your book, so don’t just throw words together and hope they work. Make sure they draw readers into your story.
Want to continue reading? Pick up your copy here
© 2019 Maggie Anderson
Bella Luna Books, Australia
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without written permission of the Author.