Write YOUR book! – Preliminary Steps
Let’s Write a Book Together! How Serious Are You?
Just the mere idea of writing a book can be overwhelming when you look at all the different things involved. Nowadays it isn’t as easy as simply coming up with a great idea and writing it down; now you have to think of building a social network and performing, at minimum, 50% of the marketing. That’s minimum, remember, and that’s if you publish with a house. If you self-publish then the marketing is on you 100%. That alone can send many a promising author into a tailspin.
I’ve seen so many wanna-be writers who write the book, pass it around to a few family and friends, maybe do some light editing on in-your-face errors, and then upload it to Amazon for all the world to see, then call themselves authors.
Writing is a craft; and as with any other craft, in order to be good at it you must first learn all you can about it. There is so much more involved than just throwing some words together.
What I’d like to do over the next several posts is take you through the writing process as I’ve come to know it. My novel The Consequential Element is a good example of the kind of work you will need to do to get your novel written, published, and sold.
When I began writing my novels a few years ago, there were a lot of websites that provided wonderful encouragement with little guidance. Today, there are many websites that tell you the necessities of writing a book but still leave questions; such as:
- You must have an eye catching book cover (how and where do I get this?)
- You must have strong back copy (I remember thinking, what the hell is back copy?)
- You must have an ISBN (a what?)
- You must have a strong story arc (hmm? What is the arc?)
- Your first 50 pages are the most important. (Why?)
- You must develop characters that your readers can relate to, sympathize with, love or hate (okay, but how do I develop characters?)
- Make sure your dialogue holds up and keeps the reader’s attention (You write the way people talk, right?)
These are just a few examples of the mass amount of information you need to get your book off the ground. My hopes are that I can answer these questions for you and also to provide you with other important resources to assist you along the way.
Important! Please remember to post a comment here, or email me directly at email@example.com and ask me any questions you have. I promise to get back to you, either on the blog or by email, with the answers you seek.
Okay, so my mother always told me, “There’s no time like the present” to get anything done. Ready? Let’s begin.
You have great idea for a book. It’s awesome and will set the world on fire! People just have to read this. You grab a pen and a notebook and start jotting down notes as they come to you. You sit back and realize that for some reason, the images in your head don’t translate into words as easily as you’d hoped and stress begins to set in. You look down at your jumbled notes and small beads of sweat emerge on the nape of your neck. Chaos. Your book is nothing more than a chaotic mess of fragmented thoughts and words. Nothing makes sense. You do this day after day trying frantically to gain, at minimum, organized chaos, but your efforts are fruitless. On your final attempt, anger sets in. You grab your notes, tear them into shreds, swear your head off, and – and this is the worst part – you give up.
It’s okay. This is normal. This is how this works. You aren’t a bad writer. You aren’t a lost cause. You are normal. Get that straight. You just have to rein those thoughts in a little.
First, you need to do some preliminary steps and ask yourself some questions:
- Is there a viable audience for this story? Spend time researching your audience; you’ll be surprised at how much clarity it can bring to your direction.
o Visit blogs in the genre of your book.
o Join Goodreads and visit groups in your genre. Do NOT say you are a writer. You aren’t…YET. You are here to mingle and learn. Ask questions. Make friends.
o Visit Amazon and search out authors/books in your genre. Read other authors who have been successful in your genre. What stands out about them?
- Is there a market for your book? If you’ve done the aforementioned, you should be able to determine if there is a market for your book.
- What do you already know about your subject and what will you need to know? Research your subject matter until you are as close to an expert as you can get. Are you writing about aliens? Then really know them inside and out. What they eat, drink, where they sleep, how they sleep, do they communicate through speech or sounds, etc. KNOW them.
o Imagine you’re in an elevator with someone and they ask about your book. You want to be able to speak about these aliens in as convincing a manner as possible so that when those doors open the passenger leaves feeling like those aliens truly exist. Because they do…in you.
If you’ve answered the above and feel that this is still a go, then you can move forward to the book part.
- Start your social network – How do you do this? Make friends. Wherever you go, make friends. Whatever you do, make friends. Now is a good time to join Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and any other network you think will help get you positioned for sales. It’s never too early to get this going. There’s a lot more to it than just gaining followers. Anyone can gain followers simply by, well, following. What you want to do is gain a true following. People who are and will be interested in what you will have to sell. A true social network takes time to build. It takes building and nurturing relationships. Get used to this because it is going to be a large part of your future marketing, even if you go the traditional route with a publishing house. In fact, they actually expect this out of you nowadays.
- Gather the necessary data – Are you writing about another planet? Map it out and describe it. Bring it to life with all 5 senses: see it, feel it, taste it, smell it, touch it. Describe this in minute detail. These details may not make it in the story, but they will come in handy when you are writing the story. You have to experience it first hand before you can expect your reader to.
- Develop your plot – What is your story about? Find one major plot and maybe one subplot, but be careful not to have too much going on. Don’t get caught up in subplots. Stay focused. Find out what the most important storyline is for you and write toward it. What’s your message? What do you want your reader to take away from this book?
- Develop your characters – Take your time with this. I have a great Character Development Checklist that you can print out and use. Do each character one at a time. Meet them, live them. I’ve actually spent days living as many of my characters. Be careful – this can make you quite moody and nearly unlivable. J Do whatever it takes to develop a human being (or alien, or vampire, beast, or what have you). Don’t rush their birth. You have to help them acclimate to their new world. Make them as believable as possible. Make them real.
- Develop an outline – Some people hate outlines, others love them. I’m sort of in the middle. I use them but only to my benefit. I don’t teach outlining for that very reason. But it’s always a good idea to lay things out in front of you in somewhat of as orderly a fashion as possible. Also, outlining works well for plotting, too.
Okay, I’ll stop here for now. I think I’ve given you enough to get completed in two weeks. That’s when I’ll be back to discuss Creating Your Story.
Remember, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you come up with and I’ll help you through it as best I can. I have a ton of resources at my disposal with some of the big-wigs in the business. I will get you the answer.
Don’t forget to JOIN MY MAILING LIST.
Until then, scribble on my friends. J