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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tips on how to write your book

Ever since Amazon made it easy for people to publish their own work, self publishing has become a viable option for authors to write and publish their own work. Self publishing has become a hit with authors because when compared to traditional publishers, not only are the quality requirements of the work much more lax (There really isn't any. You can publish whatever you want as long as it meets the basics of ethical, moral and regional laws.), the author's share of the income pie is also much larger. Most self publishing platforms give the author up to 75% of the sales price as long as it meets certain requirements. Compare this to 15% by traditional publishers.

The problem is that, because there are no “quality requirements”, almost anybody can publish anything that they wish. This has ensured that if you go online and search for books in a certain niche, you get everything from utter nonsense, to really good work. You will however have to sift through the chaff for the wheat, and with more and more authors entering the scene, the sifting is getting more and more difficult.

There's nothing much that you can do about this, and if you are sure that you want to self publish, there's really no reason for you not to. You do however have to keep some things in mind because if not, you are just setting yourself up for failure.

Every author has a different style of writing, and I am not going to give you advice on how you go about the actual “writing”. What I am going to do instead is give you a guideline on what you have to keep in mind when you write your book.

One of the first things you do before you even start, is to know “what” you're going to write about. You cannot write on a topic that you don't know anything about, and especially if you are a first time author, it is very important that you stick to a topic that you are familiar with. Writing a book is hard enough without you taking on the added difficulty of choosing a topic on which you know nothing about.

This is the reason why most first time authors generally write fiction. It's the safest bet, and especially if it is romantic fiction which is perennially popular, is much easier to write than one that involves a deep plot.

One of the best ways to go about doing this is to jot down points as they occur to you. For me personally, this happens over a period of time. I even get ideas on topics to write on, while I write the book. I generally jot it down and periodically review it to ensure that I have covered everything that I wanted to.

Another advantage of this is that an idea for a chapter may strike you, but you may not know anything about it. Jotting it down ensures that you will do your research beforehand so that you get more familiar with the topic. More questions will occur to you as you look for answers to your first one, and slowly you build up on your knowledge on a subject.

Once you reach a point where you either don't have any questions or you are able to answer them all, it's time to start writing your book.

Don't however make the mistake of thinking that this will be your final version. My way is to never go back and read through what I have written till I've finished a couple of chapters. This ensures that I get everything down quickly, before I forget it. Also reviewing my work breaks my involvement in my writing and I don't want to do this.

When I read through it later, I edit both the style and the content to give it the flow that all books require. This may be anything from just correcting spelling and grammar mistakes to rearranging the content so that it reads well. And every single time, one single edit is never enough. You find mistakes, or a better way to express an idea each time you read your work, and you have to edit your book when this happens. You never stop till you feel that there is nothing more that you can do for the book.

When it comes to the actual writing, there are different styles that different people use. This is what differentiates authors. But whatever style you use, you have to make sure that the reading is easy.
For example, some people like to take you one step at a time, while others will start at the end and then go back to the beginning. It's not a question of which one is better, but in how well you use that technique.

Which style would be suitable for you? That's a question that only you can answer. For me personally, I take different styles and different voices for different subjects. But this is not consciously done. Before I start to write, I just sit quietly and imagine how I want my book to be. This gives me my introduction. Once I get my introduction, everything flows naturally from it.

To be honest, it isn't as easy as I tell it. In the beginning I used to struggle a bit, but with a bit of experience I found that it is only when I force my writing that I get into trouble. When I sit quietly and just think about what I want to write, I invariably get an idea. From then, it's only a matter of sticking to the blueprint that I have in my mind, and everything else just comes naturally.

Of course many of you may say that this “flowing naturally” thing just doesn't come to them. But let me tell you something. I know a person who has never written before. She used to help me now and then with research work and that's about it. One day, I needed help in finishing content for a website that I was developing content for, and I asked her to help me. Since it was about cooking which she is interested in, she said ok.

And the articles that she turned in were really really good. They were better than anything that I could have done, and this with absolutely no experience whatsoever. I received really good reviews for her work which prompted me to use her another time when I needed help with something else.
This time, the work was so bad that I had to almost completely rewrite them.

My point is that people give you really good work when they are interested in what they are doing. When they aren't, then their work suffers. This is true, not only of writing, but of almost any work that you care to name.

When it comes to writing, this is doubly important because unless you are yourself interested in what you're writing about, how can you get someone else interested? Basically, the only way for you to ensure the reader's involvement is to ensure the author's involvement when writing.

Once you finish the book to your satisfaction, do a bit of researching into the self-publishing theme. This way you know the basics of what you need to do to market your book so that you get at least those 10 or 20 sales initially. Good reviews by these will hopefully translate to future sales which is what you are looking for.

I know that the ideas given here are very general ones, but no one can give you more specific advice than this. If they do, then they are stifling you. You end up trying to write someone else's version of your book rather than yours, and this route is not one that you should be following.

Until now authors didn't have a choice and had to follow publishers' recommendations/guidelines/orders. Now, when you're self-publishing, there's no real reason for you not to turn in your work.

Your best one of course!

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