Richard Small (author of Confederate Star Rises) is back this week with more info on writing your own ebook. You can do it! Check out his book on Amazon, and then follow along as he gives us instructions on how to write an ebook. If you missed his blog last week, you can see it here.
In my previous blog I was setting the table in preparation for describing the nuts and bolts of becoming a self-published author. You may want to re-read that (or read it first if you have not already done so) in order to gain some context about what follows.
Writing a book is a process containing a number of steps you take along the way towards producing a valuable final product, your awesome book! This blog describes the first three steps in the process:
1. Personal affirmation
If you are anything like me, you have always wanted to write your own book. And you have a bright idea for a compelling story that you believe others would enjoy reading. You are an avid reader, and every time you close a book after reading its last page you think, “I could write just as well, or even better, than this author.” Have you ever had those thoughts?
I do believe that in those quiet moments when you are alone, when the cares and busy-ness of life seem far away, and you re-acquaint yourself with YOU, you will KNOW if you have the ability to write a good book and if it is something you really want to do. Contrary to current societal thinking, I’m not one who thinks that you can do anything just by believing.
No, I think every person is a unique being with his/her own distinct personality, skills, and abilities. So get off by yourself, find out once again who you are, and see if that YOU is a budding author.
When you do discover that an author indeed lives inside and is just waiting to bust out into the open, then you have all the evidence you need to get started writing that book! Believe me, you will need that personal affirmation as you embark upon the quest of becoming a self-published author. It takes dedication, self-discipline, and a dogged persistence, the likes of which I daresay you have never undertaken before.
Now, if your situation in life is like mine, you cannot economically afford to drop everything you are doing so you can produce that great novel just itching to be written. You still have to keep your day job, your regular job (ugh!) in order to give you the support you need to live.
This means that nights and week-ends will become your author times. By the way, having a supportive and understanding husband or wife and family helps immensely. Fortunately, I have one of those!
But let me give you some encouragement. The farther you get into your book project, the freer you will feel. Why? Because you are getting that much closer to becoming the entrepreneur I talked about in my last posting.
It’s time to put some flesh around the bones of your bright idea. To get started, there are three specific actions you need to take: research, research, and you guessed it, research.
I would say that I spent about the same amount of time researching as I did writing. The amount of research required may vary based upon the genre of your book. In my case, I was writing historical fiction about the Civil War. Well then, I better get my facts straight about that period of history or else my book will lack the quality and credibility that I personally require before I am willing to put my name on its cover.
That means finding out about the people of the times by reading countless auto-biographies and memoirs of the actual participants in that great conflict. It means understanding the technologies of the times — horses, telegraph, canals, railroads, rifles, pistols, the minie ball, artillery, etc.
What was living in the 1860’s like? What roads did people travel on? What cities, towns, and villages existed during that time period? As mentioned beforehand, really becoming intimate with the people of the times — Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Stonewall Jackson, A.P. Hill, J.E.B. Stuart, and a host of others you probably have not heard of — was.
When I read a book, I want its story to transport me into a different life than the one I live in. Well, the book better convey that life intelligently and accurately, or I won’t enjoy the journey so much. So, for example, you would not want to write a scene set in 1996, where on a Sunday morning a business executive is lounging beside his pool doing some work on his iPad over a wireless network.
I don’t think that technology was available in 1996. I actually just read a book containing that very scene, and my viewpoint of the book changed from it being a credible story to that of an incredible one.
Does all this sound daunting? Let me give you some good news. With the internet, you should be able to satisfy most if not all your research requirements from the comforts of home. Research is MUCH easier now than it was before the advent of the internet.
If you want to produce a quality book, you need to research, research, and research.
Though I place research ahead of writing in the process, the truth is that both research and writing toil hand in hand as your book begins to take shape. In my experience I found that a spurt of writing would trigger the need for a new round of research. Or was it the other way around?
In any case, back and forth it went between research and writing throughout the entire process of writing the book. In reality, research and writing work together, slowly but surely churning out your book.
Before you begin writing, you should get organized. How you organize is subjective, in my viewpoint. Most authors will tell you they start by outlining the book. And I started out that way as well. However, as I continued to research and write, my initial idea for the book changed.
In fact, the published book is quite different from that initial outline. My advice is this. You need to organize. How you do that varies. Do what’s comfortable for you. But once organized, don’t think you have to rigidly stick with that original organization.
The creation of a book is an evolutionary process. New, better ideas will emerge that make the book a better product than what you initially conceived.
Embrace change. It’s a good thing.
Once you do start writing, you will need to introduce yourself to your new best friend. That faithful companion is … the Dictionary!
You think you know the definition of words? Think again. You would be surprised at the number of words whose definitions are different than what you conceive them to be. Let’s look at the purpose of words for a minute.
We humans think in pictures, concepts as well, but mostly we think in pictures. And in order to communicate those pictures to others, we have developed language, both verbal and written, so that we can share our thoughts with others. Just like the Constitution represents a contract guaranteeing our rights as citizens, the English Dictionary is a compact, an agreement amongst English speakers about what words mean.
Without this compact, communication between people would not be clear and precise. Remember when Michael Jackson sang about being bad, when he really meant good? How confusing! What’s the new fad word I’ve been hearing lately? “Sick.” I think it actually means something good.
What is the real source of stupidity and lack of intelligence?
The misunderstood word. See why the Dictionary will become your best friend and companion?
Every online Dictionary I have seen contains a thesaurus. That tool is really helpful for this reason. Your book will be boring if you use the same word over and over and over again. To make your writing fresh and interesting, a problem needs to be hard, then difficult, then challenging, and finally demanding.
Then there is mount, steed, equine, stallion, mare, and a host of other words that convey the picture of a horse. Use the thesaurus freely to add color and interest to your story.
So now you are writing … and writing … and writing. It’s a long haul, especially if you are doing it part-time like I did.
I set goals; 2000 words a week.
I created a spreadsheet and recorded my weekly cumulative word count.
I graphed it so I could see that encouraging upward-sloping line.
Week by week by week you keep at it religiously. Did I always achieve my objective? No. But that sloping line was always slanting upward. I was making progress and getting closer to my goal.
That was my trick to help me persevere through the writing process. You will probably develop your own.
Finally after many, many months — honestly years — of writing you will have written the last sentence in the last paragraph of your book. It’s an interesting time in your life. I remember it well.
I started walking restlessly around the house, went out into my backyard to check up on the plants. I had been working so long and hard on writing my book that when I finally finished:
I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF!
Then it finally dawned on me. I had actually finished writing my book! I remember making a somewhat senseless statement to my wife, something like:
You know what, honey? I think I have finished my book.
I remember that time when I completed writing my book. It was almost exactly one year before I published the book.
There was still a lot of work to get done. But it looks like I have more than exceeded my word count for this particular blog.
Stay tuned …
Richard Small is the author of Confederate Star Rises, an alternate historical fiction novel, where a change to a single event in history alters the outcome of the American Civil War. Visit Richard’s author website at RichardSmallAuthor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.