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How to write a book

Posted in News By Hank Shrier

Today, we're going to talk about how to write a book. The first question you need to ask yourself when you decide that you're going to be writing a book in thinking about writing your book is: why am I doing this? When you understand why you're going to write the book, then you're ready to take the steps necessary. Now, some people may tell you that the first steps in writing a book are to prepare an elaborate outline, to do months or years of research, or many other things. The first thing that you want to do when you go to write your book is to prepare a business plan as to how you are going to sell the book. The first question you need to answer for your readers is: why would my readers want to read this? When you have a business plan in place, when you have a clear marketing plan in place, you're ready to actually execute against some of the marketing steps that are necessary. The first thing you want to do is to create your own Facebook author's page. People buy from authors. People want to connect with the artist who's creating the work. The next step from my perspective would be to find a great cover designer. The cover is the calling card for your book, the cover says a great deal about you as an author and as a professional. When your book cover is well designed, beautifully done, and conveys the essence of what your book is about, you can actually begin to pre-sell your book, and in some cases even before you sat down to write the first word or the first chapter. Then what you want to do is to create a Facebook page for the book itself. You want to maximize the engagement you have with your prospective readers, and you want to build anticipation and excitement in being able to read the book. You may ask your readers, or you may ask for input for character names, things about characters, other elements that help people to be engaged in the story. Now some authors may say "it's my story, I'm going to do it my way, and I don't really want anybody else's input into these things." That's your decision to make. Once you have the fundamental marketing ideas and pages in place, it's time to sit down to the real nitty-gritty of actually writing your book. Please, do yourself a favor and see if you can't get rid of the biggest enemy we all have to being successful writers, and that's the person that we see in that mirror every morning. All of us, or at least most of us, are very good at avoidance. We will find whatever we can do to not sit down with our writing and write. We go in, we revise, we make changes, we (inaudible) punctuation marks or mistakes, we rewrite sections we've already done. We do everything we can to finish writing that first draft of the book done. We get in our own way. So when I write my own books, I make very few if any revisions until the first draft is done. Along the way, I (inaudible) some sections to colleagues of mine, to people I know who are good readers and potential editors, to get some feedback on where I'm going. When the manuscript itself is done, the next step is to get it to an editor that you trust and get it to an editor that you can work with. This is a very collaborative process. Some writers that I know feel that they are having a child murdered every time an editor makes a suggestion as far as deleting something or changing something. Please understand that your editor's job is to make you a better writer. Just as star athletes turn to coaches for advice, writers turn to editors for advice, insight and guidance. No one, but no one who is a truly serious writer, or no one who wants a book to done well will ever consider trying to complete the task without an editor. Once you have the editing done, you have the rewriting done, and you're happy with the manuscript, and you see only a word here or a word there that needs to be changed, then go from your original editor, who might be called a copy editor, someone who helps you with the structure of the book, someone who keeps you in line, helps you with continuity. Then, when you're happy with the manuscript and you've gone through it several times, send it to a proofreader. A proofreader's job is to make sure that there are no grammatical errors, that you haven't used the word your or you're or other kinds of things that we all do as writers in our hurry to get things done. They make sure that the punctuation is clean, and that the book conforms to generally accepted standards. Look very carefully at the book, look very critically at the book after the proofreader is done. You are going through the final read before you send it to the printer to be done. Now some of you may decide, and it's a reasonable decision to make, to hire a book designer to actually lay out the inside of the book. Some of these ideas can come to you very easily by picking up a book from a major trade publisher. See how they do things, see where they start chapters, make sure they you don't have any orphans, that you don't have any words or phrases starting at the top of the chapter. Make sure that the book is clean. Now you can use a program like InDesign or other programs to make sure that each of the pages is perfectly balanced. Sometimes you may say the cost opposite the benefit may not make business sense, because when you lay the book out reasonably well in Word, or when you are only writing as an e-book, then the considerations of the layout make a lot of this difference. As you probably know, most of the tablets, like the IPad or Kindle Reader or Nook, allow the person who has it to have control over it. So the look and feel of the book is not nearly as important as it is in a printed book. So when you are satisfied with the manuscript, when you are satisfied with the galley or proof that comes back from the printer, you're ready to start filling the orders that you have for pre-orders and you're ready to really turn loose the full editing. Hopefully, in the time that you've been working on the book while the editor and you are working together, you're working with the publicist or working with your own networking connections to find ways to do radio appearances, book signings, and other ways and aspects of marketing the book. And while this is certainly not conventional wisdom, you may wish to look at doing book signings at someplace other than the traditional bookstore. I'm sure you're saying to yourself, "You must be kidding. Why wouldn't I go to the bookstore?" That's where people go to buy books. Well, depending on the material that you have and depending on your subject matter, it's entirely possible that a civics group, a religious organization or another group may have a facility where they would like to host you. The advantage that you have is that you're not splitting with a retailer. Because you have independently published the book, you know where you are in terms of what you spent to market it and your cost per book. Now, one thing that we did leave out is making a book trailer. A book trailer is an excellent tool for getting your concept in front of your readers and getting them excited about reading your book. There are book trailers from as simple as a glorified PowerPoint display, which I absolutely don't recommend, to a live action trailer and everything in between. In general terms, you can look to invest somewhere between $750 and $5000 in the trailer. It makes absolutely no sense to spend $5000 on a trailer when you don't have a marketing plan, when you know how you're going to recoup that cost. You may have an email list from a major organization that will send out 100,000 or 150,000 emails that will each contain that trailer, in which case the investment may be there. The key is to plan your marketing as effectively as you plan your writing. When you follow the business aspects and business approach to writing a book, you have a great chance of being successful, making back your investment and more importantly, building an asset that will continue to return to you, year after year after year. Not only will it return financially, which is of course a major consideration, but all of us who write books love the idea that thousands or hundreds of thousands or in some cases even millions of people are reading over the creation that you have. Thank you so much for listening. Please enjoy and love your writing career. You've been given a great gift that very few people have. Use it, enjoy it, and take great pride in every book you publish. Thank you. Read More

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Posted in News By Hank Shrier

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