The Brass Tacks of Writing Your Dream Book
Volumes have been written on “How to Write a Book” or “How to Become an Author”. With the publication of my 5th International title – a co-authored one around the corner and the 6th one in progress – to be published later this year, here is something I wish to share with budding authors and friends alike.
I choose to use the words “Phase” instead of “Step” because while working on it, one goes through these phases where the mind, body and soul are focused on one thing… the book or books of your dreams…Focus is so important!
Phase 1: Be bold if you want to be heard; if you want to leave a legacy!
It takes courage and discipline to write; if you know your target audience and have the motivation and realize the need for it, just do it!
Conceive the idea and say, “yes! I want to be an author whose work the world will love!” Long after you are gone, you will be remembered (if the world has accepted you)!
At this stage, it may be necessary to find a prospective publisher who can do justice to your hard work and who will believe in you. You can decide when the publisher should step in or be approached.
Phase 2: Open Up Your Mind, Start Your Research and Let Your Thoughts Flow!
Keep a scribble pad or notebook and pen always handy. Identify authentic and adequate sources / locations / agencies / people to inspire you and guide you and then decide for yourself what is best! Your own experiences and knowledge will however be the mainstay. Write, write and write in the morning and in the night, on trains and in planes, wake up dreaming about it … just write!
Since I am a working professional, it is challenging but not impossible. I have woken up at 2, 4 or anytime with a thought / idea in my head. If I slept over it, it was probably gone the next morning! But trains, buses, airports, just about anywhere is okay for me – especially if there is a deadline. I even sat next to my very ill 76-yr old mum and while she was asleep, I managed to read through and complete the manuscript for one book; it soothed my mind and gave me the strength to finally get her back on her feet – smiling!
Remember, unless there is a strict deadline of sorts by the publisher (as in my case for new editions and titles at times) and you can afford to give almost all your time, take time out to relax, re-energise, pore over your thoughts and actions, spend quality time with the family, concentrate on your job and other things that bring your bread to the table.
Phase 3: The Compilation Begins. The Chapters Come to Life!
All that you have done up to now, needs to be presentable. The scores of pages that looks more like garbage to anyone else, is your hard work!
Working with co-authors can be challengingunless you are willing to make compromises and work rationally on each chapter and topic. Sometimes even the choice of sentences or words may not be acceptable to each other; work together and work around it transparently. Eventually, as you work together, each takes on a different or parallel role and the result is sweet!
Take time to breathe easy along the way and analyse the best way to present it to your readers. Keep the language simple as you go along; you want people to read sensible content and not verbal diarrhoea. Since I write for a multinational community, I choose my words carefully.
Draw up the chapters; cross referencing is important at times too. Acknowledgements, permissions, recognition for contributions / support, the Preface, a gist “About the Book” are also an integral part at this juncture.
Note: I have always started a new chapter on an odd-numbered page. It somehow makes sense to me but is not a thumb rule.
Phase 4: The Book Takes on Its Unique Identity
The cover is designed. Take multiple opinions seriously – especially a section of your prospective target audience! The first step in buying a book for most people, is its attractiveness and catchy, relevant title and colour. The title could have been decided at any stage however!
Draw up the table of contents, index of key words and other indices as deemed necessary. You may need additional help. Thanks to my wife and others who chipped in; I always made it to the finish line in time ?.
Phase 5: Kill the Printer’s Devil
Take a test print, read through and reprint relevant parts till you are satisfied. Never trust your eyes to edit or proof-read a book on a computer screen. My take on it; there could be exceptions.
See that the publisher gets the ISBN assigned and Copyright done. Confirm that there is NO other book with the same title and an ISBN (ISBNS.net could help).
Phase 6: The Author is Born or Noticed and Welcomed Once Again!
The marketing process starts; the publisher should help you. On your part, use adequate social media, book launches, signing, interaction with audiences, presentations, standees at book shops and outlets. Never degrade your book by cheap publicity! Choose your advertisers and platforms wisely.
Phase 7: Managing Feedback
Every single iota of feedback that you receive, should be cherished. If it is praise, smile. If there is a negative response or suggestion for change, take it seriously and analyse the feedback. Make the necessary changes if so required or stand your ground and sensibly present your case if you can prove what you have written is correct.
An author needs to stay grounded, focused, grateful and humble all the time! Becoming an author doesn’t mean one becomes God! You need the world to accept your work and not you! If they like it, they accept it, share it or even pirate it! Be happy! You will eventually become a household name or a renowned person in niche circles. Enjoy it but stay grounded, stay blessed.
You are remembered by not what you said, wrote or did. You are remembered by the impact you made! Leave a legacy.
I am indebted and eternally grateful to God above and my family and tens of thousands of wonderful folks, the world over and the maritime fraternity in particular for accepting my contributions over the past 25 Years, without which, I would never be heard of or accepted. I shall continue to contribute for as long as I can see clearly, think sensibly and write responsibly ?
http://indianauthors.org is a good website to get registered as an author. The Indian Authors Association accepts young and new authors too. Incidentally, I am a founder member. I am also a member of world authors.org (https://www.worldauthors.org/author/elstan/)
Amazon Author Central is also a good location to get noticed once your books are selling on Amazon.com
Please visit marineelectricity.com for more information on my books
Contact us for any further help on becoming an author 🙂