Before You Write

  • Before you write a bestseller, write a book.
  • Before you write a book, write a chapter.
  • Before you write a chapter, write some paragraphs.
  • Before you write some paragraphs, know what you want to say.
  • Before you know what you want to say, pinpoint what you WANT to say.
  • Before you pinpoint what you want to say, ask yourself why you want to say it.
  • Before you ask yourself why you want to say it, listen to the voice that forms the question.

Writer’s Block

“I have writer’s block.”

If anyone thought the process of constructing a story is a God-given process that just flows naturally and when it doesn’t, it’s because somehow the “receiving hole” got plugged up, they are in for a surprise.  A decent story lives; and it lives on real food.  (Try chocolate.  It works every time!)  It lives on what you put into it, and that depends what you put into you, in terms of fresh inspirations (experiences, go get them, Fluffy!), research (gee that can lead you places these days!), and observing people.  A decent story does not fall out of the sky.  Sometimes you have to be a bit of an engineer and sit and construct, instead of just inventing.  So you’ll be using both your right and left brain hemispheres (we should hope, otherwise you’d be laterally disabled).  And “Writer’s Block” is most likely one of three things:

  • A sign that maybe you’re bored with that story, because it wasn’t such a great one in the first place, or perhaps simply because you have moved on (let it go!)
  • a sign of tiredness  (go sleep or do something else!)
  • an excuse to try and avoid doing actual work on the story.

For me writing time is precious.  It has to be squished in between everything else (not just for me but, I’m sure, for countless writers!), I often have a bad conscience while writing because I’m avoiding doing something “useful” instead.  So writing time is laced with the delicious guilt of a semi-forbidden pleasure.  There’s no time for “block”.  If a story doesn’t work, it goes.

Those who truly write for a living (journalists, people who have to write up factual reports, etc) know that when you’re paid for a job, there is no space for a luxury like “block”.  You do what you need to, and finis.  You have a certain amount of time to complete an article, and that’s it.  If writers, who mostly write because it gives them pleasure, could adopt the same attitude to their stories, there wouldn’t even be a word for Writer’s Block.  Think about it.

About the Author
Lyz Russo is a writer and musician living in Pretoria, South Africa. She is the author of “The Solar Wind” series, which can be found and ordered through Smashwords.com. Book One of the series is available as a FREE download. She also has a blog called, “The Red Ant.”

Preparing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

dreamstime_5932237Unlike fiction manuscripts (which must be completed before agents or publishers will look at them), a non-fiction manuscript does not have to be finished when you submit it to potential publishers or agents.

If you feel you are ready to take this step, the following guidelines will help you prepare your proposal:

  • Present the proposal on letter-sized, letter-quality paper. It should be double-spaced, unbound, and typed in a font such as Times New Roman or Courier New.
  • Your title page comes first. The actual title should be about a third of the way down the page.
  • Personal information, such as your name, address, telephone number, fax number (if you have one), email address, date, and the phone number of your agent (if applicable) should be at the bottom of the page with the final line as the page’s last line.
  • The next two to three pages will include your overview — a concise statement of your project. Write tight. Every word counts.
    Following this is your autobiographical information, i.e., who you are and why you are qualified to write the book. List any previous published books and/or articles. Include all your applicable experience related to this book, including public or media appearances. All relevant information will help sell your project.
  • Your marketing section comes next. This is where you promote your book and explain why it is needed in the marketplace, who will purchase it and why. Be specific. Don’t offer generalized statistics.
  • Then list what you have found in your market research. What is on the market that is similar to your topic and how much? Let the potential publisher/agent know you have done your competition research and explain how and why your book is different. If there are numerous books on the same or similar topic, point out the public’s insatiable appetite for the subject. Approach your discussion from whatever angle you feel will help sell your book.
  • Provide your ideas for promoting (marketing) your book. There are many models to choose from, so give some thought to this. See if you can present a unique idea that might appeal to the publisher.
  • What comes next is the essence of your proposal — the chapter outline. This is where you present the book’s contents. List the title for each chapter, even if it’s tentative, and clearly summarize what it is about. If you think it would be helpful, include a table of contents. The length of the outline is up to you, but it’s generally best to be succinct. Get your point across with as few words as possible and then move on to the next chapter. Remember, this is only an outline.
  • If you have written a few chapters, you may wish to include one or two with your proposal. This sometimes accentuates you and your project in the eyes of the publisher/agent. You may also include anything else that is pertinent to your project, e.g., videos, DVDs, copies of published articles, etc. Be sure they are directly related to your subject matter.

The average proposal runs from fifteen to thirty double-spaced pages with the chapters from ten to twenty double-spaced pages. Some proposals are a hundred pages, while others are only six or seven. The important thing to keep in mind is to use whatever amount it takes to explain your book project to a publisher or agent.

Five Common Self-Publishing Mistakes

Have you joined the ranks of aspiring authors ready to take the next step to self-publishing in the digital age of publishing? If so, congratulations! But wait, before you rush off to press, there are some things you should do to prepare your book for successful self-publishing. The preparation step of the self-publishing process includes everything you need to do to your book manuscript before you deliver it to the book printer. This includes deciding your publishing goals.

For example, is your book a personal family history book that you plan to sell to a few friends and family? Or do you plan to mass-market your book to the world? After deciding your market then you should avoid the following common mistakes:

1. Failure to write a business plan

This is where your book publishing journey should begin. You don’t have to start with a 15-page document. But do create an outline of all the costs that you will encounter in the self-publishing process.

Outline your costs before publication, after publication and everything from the beginning costs to the shipping price of mailing a book. This is the time you decide whether you should print a small amount of books for family or set up a small publishing company by buying a block of ISBNs.

2. Failure to get ISBN Numbers.

An ISBN number is what identifies you as a book publisher. Currently, it is the only way you can be considered a self-publisher in the publishing industry. At the time of this writing, no one can give, assign, or sell you ISBNs except RR Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency.

3. Failure to invest in book editing.

Don’t cut corners here. Invest in your book; get it professionally edited. Copy or line editing will bring your manuscript up to professional standard. Don’t settle for just having your family member take a look at your manuscript.

4. Failure to hire a book designer for book layout.

The book layout is what structures the content of your book and makes it look like a book. Again invest in your book project; this is not the time to settle for anything less than a professional look. If your book looks sloppy, it will limit its success in the market.

5. Failure to invest in cover design.

75% of 300 booksellers reviewed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) recognized the look and design of the book cover as the most important part. They agreed the jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book. On that note, your book cover design has great importance. It can cause your book marketing campaign to fail or succeed. So, I encourage you to get your book cover professionally designed.

Are you ready to publish your book successfully? Did you consider all your options including a business plan and book cover design? Great! Now that you know how to set up your book for full speed ahead self-publishing, go ahead take the plunge. Don’t wait any longer. Start today. Your audience is waiting for YOUR unique message and viewpoint. Make it different. Make it count. Make it yours.

About the Author
Earma Brown, 14 yr author, book writing and publishing coach. Are you ready to publish your book successfully? Get FREE instant access to her Self Publisher’s eKit at http://www.selfpublishinghouse.net

How to Make Your Book a Best Seller

Turn on the light. Unlock the door. Here are the amazing secrets that can no longer be kept in the dark!

So how do books become best sellers?

Usually hyped out of this world by the publisher, if he thinks he has a good seller on his hands. But we’re not talking publishers. We are going to talk about you. I have seen books which were amazing and sold zilch. Why not? No hype.

From here we are assuming you have written a book. A “How To” type book which you fully researched before you even wrote it because we all know, don’t we? You check out the potential market first!

You spent day and night for 2 weeks writing it and editing. Your finished manuscript is at the printers. You had someone design a “hip” cover with a well thought out marketing blurb on it. It will be ready in 2 weeks but the cover design and blurb is done first so we can promote it.

Find all the digital stuff you own that can be sent by email. Don’t own anything? Get onto some gurus and do some in depth interviews. Put a retail value on the interview. Make sure it’s worth money. This is what you are giving away. You are happy. The gurus are happy because they get plenty of exposure.

Everyone who buys your book now has a compelling reason to do so. They not only get the book for $9.95 or $19.95 but a ton of free information worth more than the book itself. So, they buy the physical book from Amazon They show you the receipt. They receive from you all the digital items by email.

Get everyone and his dog sending out emails re your forthcoming book being released on “X” date, with picture of front and back covers. Send out to everyone on your email list, friends, family, business and get the gurus who gave you the interview to do the same.

This is the simple strategy to use. You must believe in your book. It must worth the read. It must be informative. It needs to get talked about. Ask everyone to tell everyone they know or pass it on to their email lists. On and On. Give tons of free stuff to all those who buy it. Buy eBooks, reports and any digital things which you receive master rights to sell as you wish. I am sure you will find other methods and ways

You might even earn a lot of cash besides becoming a guru.

About the Author
Publishing pro and author/filmmaker Barry Sheppard has written and published many books with hundreds of reviews in newspapers, TV and radio. He is now concentrating on eBook writing/publishing and starting his own television station.

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