Monthly Archives: October 2012
Aah, the Easy Life of a Writer
by G G Collins
Without an idea, there can’t be a book. When I began writing Reluctant Medium, I had an idea. I asked the question: What if someone performed a ceremony to return the dead and the wrong person returned? From there, I created the character who would do this and began the journey to find out.
Fortunately, I never have a problem coming up with ideas. I won’t live long enough to write everything I want. But if you have trouble coming up with ideas, think about what you enjoy reading. Do you read fiction or nonfiction? What interests you: popular fiction, genre or literary? If you prefer nonfiction, do you enjoy biographies, how-to, spirituality, animal stories? There’s that old adage; write what you know. But you can also write what you can research. It can be a learning process for the writer too. Do you think you would enjoy research and conducting interviews? Once you know what to write about, it’s time to just do it.
Butt in the chair time. A few words about outlines; an individual process. Some writers love putting together a long, complicated outline. They write pages about each character, the scenes, background, on and on. But you can also make an outline that has some short paragraphs describing where you want to go with the story. Start a synopsis, fill in the blanks later and choose your character names. I prefer the latter approach. It fits my personality better. There’s no wrong path.
Once you done your research, the interviews and your outline, you’re ready to write. Decide when you have the best opportunity of some unencumbered time. Are you a morning person or a night owl? When is your energy the highest? A lot of writers have a fulltime job in addition to their writing. That doesn’t mean you can’t cull out two or three hours a day to write. Consistently writing is the key to success.
Simply stated, it’s a matter of being in that chair, hands on keyboard tapping out words. I don’t believe in writers’ block. Sure it’s difficult to begin, but start. If you don’t know how you want to open the book, then write the parts you have a better feel for. Some of us write description better, others are dialog demons. Our words are not sacred. They can be changed, probably will be changed during editing and polishing sessions. It might be helpful to join a writing group and do readings with others. Sometimes having a place to read your writing can help you get started and gain confidence. Do whatever it takes.
My words, my words! The first edit will likely be yours to do; maybe even the second and third. Eventually, you’ll likely need a professional to go through your manuscript. In my years working for a book publisher, there was only one author who could edit herself. She was terrific. The problem with self-editing: we know what we meant to say and we miss errors. And, that’s why newspapers have editors. The faster you have to turn in work, the more you need an editor. Keep a Chicago Manual of Style on hand for trips through your work.
Traditional route or self-publishing? It can take months or years or never, to haul in a traditional publisher or find a literary agent who will agree to represent your work. More and more, the traditional route is strewn with difficulties. Publishers or agents may not be accepting new clients or they aren’t accepting first-time authors. Sometimes they agree to look at your book and months go by without a reply. Your manuscript may be in a tall stack taking up space with other hopefuls, or the editor or agent just never gets around to sampling it. It can get pretty discouraging, but you can also come out a published book author. The easy answer? Try it and see what happens.
But if you prefer not to wait, self-publishing can be your answer. Two places are well-known for their support of the self-published author: Amazon and Smashwords. You do all the work, so get ready, but these are probably the fastest routes to a pub date. I decided to go with an eBook, but you can publish in paper at several places including Amazon.
DIY Formatting or Freelance Formatter? You will have to submit your book in a required format. If your computer skills aren’t up to it or you don’t have the time, there are formatters who can do the work for you. Smashwords has a listing of such formatter angels. Send an e-mail to email@example.com for author and founder Mark Coker‘s list.
You will also need a book cover. I created my own and you can do this, particularly if you have an art background. If you don’t feel up to this, Smashwords also has a group of people who design book covers.
You can also read about how I created my cover. Just look under the “Publishing” category in the sidebar of the Reluctant Medium at Large to locate it.
Once you have your book in the correct format, it’s a matter of following the directions and answering a few questions. Soon you will find yourself at the “Publish” button. Take a deep breath and click.
In Part Two of Building a Book, I’ll cover marketing and promotions and moving on the next book.
— G G Collins
Which Pen Would You Choose?
Learn which pen takes the best–and easiest–notes at a fast moving interview or press conference.
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Answer to psychic question:
No correct answers on this one. Acequia Madre, or Mother Ditch, was used to disperse water to other areas of Santa Fe. In each neighborhood someone was assigned to open the gate and allow the water to flow along the ditch until it came to the next gate. The Acequia Madre is still operable. Here’s a link to the Santa Fe New Mexican story on the ditch: