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For those thinking of writing a book – what do you want to know?

  • NRL (175 posts)
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    For those thinking of writing a book – what do you want to know?

    In no way am I claiming to be anything near an expert. But I found the whole experience to be educational, rewarding, continually interesting – and I pretty much learned it all on my own.

    So – I went through the whole process – developed a passion and expertise, pondered whether to self publish or wait for a contract, was contacted by a major publisher and worked through the proposal to a real contract. Wrote the text, dealt with photographers, the editing process – all the way to the first copy of the finished product showing up on my porch in December of 2014.

    Anxiety – nervousness – ups and downs, the emotional roller coaster, book signings, the realization that the book will be reviewed…becoming a more public person – social networking – which?  how much?

    Then dealing with a publicist – the book tour – events – podcasts, interviews, then a second book.

    I’ve kept a written diary pretty much from the day my first book.  It has been fascinating – and I am now considering proposals for books 3 and 4.

    So – what do you want to know?  Every person’s experience will be unique – but I think I’ve learned a lot about the process – both good parts, and bits that could have gone better.

    Ask away!

    VoiceOfReason, melurkyoulongtime, Enthusiast and 5 othersEmmaG, dlegendary1, TM99, historylovr, retrowire like this

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  • 9 months ago #15
    • djean111 (3491 posts)
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      1. My grandson has been working on an epic fantasy/sci-fi book for years.

      He writes voluminously in notebooks.  He writes on Google drive.  He keeps veering off in different directions with the story and characters.  I was thinking that he should pull together a “prequel” and put it out there for Kindle for free or for 99 cents, and gauge interest.  Is that a good idea?  And thank you for doing this!

      You think the only reason that people won't vote for a warmongering Third Way fracking-enabling cluster bomb throwing H-1B increasing lying pandering corporate and Wall Street shill who says she has no problem putting abortion rights on the table is because we are mad about Bernie?  Um, nope.
      • historylovr (170 posts)
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        7. How close is he to being finished?

        Is this going to be a series or a series of inter-related novels?  I would think that a prequel would be a great intro for books following, as long as they’re not years in the making. If he keeps veering off, it sounds like a series would be the way to go.

        • djean111 (3491 posts)
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          8. A series of inter-related novels, at this point.

          He has created quite a few characters and races and countries that I can pretty much “see”, and I won’t let him discard any of them, if I can help it.  His ADHD and rich imagination keep spinning new characters, new sub-plots, etc.  A couple of years ago, we found a long list of things that help develop a character, and he took it to heart.  LOTS of history and detail.  A little wooden with the dialog, but I help with that.

          You think the only reason that people won't vote for a warmongering Third Way fracking-enabling cluster bomb throwing H-1B increasing lying pandering corporate and Wall Street shill who says she has no problem putting abortion rights on the table is because we are mad about Bernie?  Um, nope.
          • historylovr (170 posts)
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            9. Oh, okay.

            Then I guess, regarding a possible prequel, it would be good to have the first two or three novels ready to go. That way, if the readers’ are interested they’d be more apt to buy the next ones if they’re available, if that makes sense. And as I suggested to retrowire, he may be want to join reader and writer groups for fantasy/sci-fi. Tweet about what he’s working on, #AmWriting, start a blog if he hasn’t. Those are also good ways to gauge interest and connect with other fans of the genres.

      • Bernice Ta (315 posts)
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        17. A good use for prequels or free stories in as an encentive for a mailing list.

        Depending on how close he is to getting a finished manuscript, he could be blogging about the book, posting excerpts and getting sign ups. MailChimp if pretty simple and free up to 2000 subscribers.

        Mailing lists are the way to go right now. That and author cross-promos, and getting into anthologies are good ways to get interest.

        • djean111 (3491 posts)
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          18. Thanks for the advice!

          He and I agree that he is really over-thinking and over-extending the story.  It would be good to get something out there, and see how it goes.  I did not know Mail Chimp was free at all, thanks for that.  He is pretty active (my grandson, not the Chimp) on Reddit and Steam and WOW, so he may have a nice little start there.

          You think the only reason that people won't vote for a warmongering Third Way fracking-enabling cluster bomb throwing H-1B increasing lying pandering corporate and Wall Street shill who says she has no problem putting abortion rights on the table is because we are mad about Bernie?  Um, nope.
    • retrowire (489 posts)
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      2. well I'd certainly like to know a bit about how bad it can get

      Got any stories of when it got a bit out of hand?

      As for questions, I’ve got a few I think. I’m working on a novella of fiction and my wife really wants to write a vegan cookbook.

      1. Would you suggest releasing a snippet of my work (online to close peers) to gauge not only gauge audience interest but also to figure out how well I write according to readers?
      2. How should my wife go about making a cookbook? Write up a rough draft and approach a publisher with it? Seek a sponsor and then write? What order?
      3. How much does it cost to publish a book on your own??
      I fix technological thingamadoodads. Also, Bernie is my spirit animal.
      • Scrivener (376 posts)
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        3. Cookbooks

        Hi retrowire,

        I have a couple suggestions that would apply more to your wife’s book than yours. When authors are seeking publication of their first book, and it is on the non-fiction side, publishers often ask if they have a platform. Meaning, are there people out there in the wider world who are already familiar with the author’s work, and like it, and would consider buying the author’s book? In the cookbook realm, that might mean the fans of a blog or a cooking show on local TV, patrons of the bistro where the author is the chef, etc. In short, are there already some human beings out there in the world who would be thrilled to hear that this author has a cookbook out–and from a major publisher!! If not, she can build a platform while she works on the book.

        One thing to consider is this: how is this cookbook different from what’s already out there already? Obviously, dedicated vegan cooks will probably have more than one cookbook. I bet your wife has way more than one. Why did she choose the ones she did? Think about how the publisher is going to market this book. (The marketing people can put the kibosh on a book that the editorial people love if the marketers don’t see a way to distinguish this book from other books. The marketing people have to “sell” the book to the bookstores that might carry it. What’s the pitch to a bookseller going to be? Why will the customers buy this one? So the author has to pitch to the editors, who have to pitch to the rest of the team–especially marketing–who have to pitch to the booksellers, who have to pitch to the customers. (I’ve heard this process described as: “The author sells the book to the agent. The agent sells it to the editor. The editor sells it to marketing. Marketing sells it to the publishers’ reps and other constituencies. The reps sell it to bookstore buyers. The bookstore sells it to customer.” Whew.)

        She may already have a platform, in which case life is much easier. If she doesn’t, let’s imagine she sets up a blog directed at vegan cooks and chefs. Fortunately, if she is writing a cookbook, she will already have a zillion ideas and recipes and whatnot. For example, she’ll be thinking about what to put on the blog, and what to save for the book.

        An author who is famous for something else can use that as a platform, assuming it is a good kind of famous. A book can also be tailored for particular situations. I came across one intended for families with both plant-eaters (only) and omnivores. There was a base recipe that would work for everybody. The last step was to customize it by adding animal-based foods to some plates and tofu or whatnot to others. Obviously, I’m not suggesting this is what she should do. After all,  there is at least one book like that already. Both author and publisher of that book thought that this was a  niche that could be profitably filled. There are bound to be other gaps that need to be filled, which I’m sure she can identify, as she has experience as a cookbook buyer and user, and a vegan-food consumer. She doesn’t have to sell her book to every vegan–she just needs to appeal to her fair share of buyers.


        There are references that tell people how to prepare a cookbook manuscript. It tackles all the persnickety things that will make the manuscript look professional.

        So,  not that I know anything whatsoever about writing a cookbook, but I know a bit about publishing, here are some things that I think she should be considering:

        1. What’s the hook? What will distinguish her book  from what’s out there already? (In addition to great recipes.)
        2. Does she have a platform, such as a blog, classes, cooking show? If not yet, then find a way to build a platform. I think that publishers would like to hear that there are cooks who love her recipes.
        3. Do some research to identify which publishers handle cookbooks. She can probably find submission guidelines for authors,  which would be useful.
        4. Also, do some research to identify agents who handle cookbooks. There is plenty of advice on dealing with agents. I also recommend a site called Preditors and Editors (yes, “preditors”) which helps to identify agents, publishers, etc. whom one should avoid at all costs.

        About self-publishing. Use Preditors and Editors to check out any publishing operation you are considering. A cookbook may need photographs, good ones, in color. If you go with an outfit, locally or otherwise, that will print the book for you, you will be talking to them about the costs, with and without photos. If you self-publish, you are opting to be author, editor, publisher, sales rep, etc. Consider talking to local indie bookstores to see if they would consider selling the book. (That would be after you have the books available. The booksellers will need to see the book in real life.) The big guys might be less helpful. Sometimes, authors have found a big chain willing to consider selling the book in their local stores, but then the chain wants a lot of books–boxes of books–which they want to be able to return if they don’t sell. Then the author finds that almost all the books are returned, and the author has to try to find a way to sell them. Scary. So, depending on your own local situation, it could be better to work through indie bookstores, which will involve less financial risk for the author.

        That’s about it for advice from me. Hopefully, you’ll get advice from people with experience writing cookbooks!

        All the best, and good luck!


        • historylovr (170 posts)
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          6. Great advice!

        • retrowire (489 posts)
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          10. Thank you immensely! this is great!!! nt

          I fix technological thingamadoodads. Also, Bernie is my spirit animal.
      • historylovr (170 posts)
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        5. I second Scrivener's advice.

        It’s possible for your wife to blog a book, which would help her build a platform. Another good way, join groups–writer’s groups, cooking groups. Check out yahoo groups, Facebook, etc. Tweet: trying a new recipe, things like that. Use the same name though for all social media. Build recognition and relationships.

    • NRL (175 posts)
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      4. I hope to post a pretty detailed answer; there are two posts with good questions

      and I want to wait another few days to see what else may be posted – but, also I am in a bit of a busy stretch and want to give my response the time that you all deserve by asking your questions.

    • Whisp (2047 posts)
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      11. I couldn't handle the touring and interviews

      that’s why I’m not writing.


      seriously, that would be so opposite of each other – the enjoyable writing and the dreadful selling.

      “Non-conformity is the only real passion worth being ruled by.” ― Julian Assange
    • melurkyoulongtime (99 posts)
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      12. I'm wanting to start with a biography

      about my (almost) father-in-law.  He passed in 2005… Absolutely incredible man.  Multiple business owner, great dad and… professional treasure hunter that was a major part of the team that helped Mel Fisher find the shipwrecked Atocha off the Florida Keys.

      His wife is now very elderly and I’d like to start by getting her to tell me some of her memories “for the record” before she passes too.  Lovely, lovely woman.  They had 11 children together and eight survived to adulthood including my “good” ex.  So sad to see her decline, but I digress…

      Van was a treasure hunter, but first and foremost he was an historian. It wasn’t the treasure that hooked him;  it was the history.  His dream was to open a museum with all the things he’d collected and he was working on getting that going when he died.  He was such the historian that The Knights of Malta sought him out and requested that he be their historian as HE knew more about THEM than they did of themselves.  If course, to take that position he had to be knighted first himself, and so he was… but again, I digress.

      The only real thing to show of him online is here: http://m.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=alfred-morris-van-fossen&pid=18304952&referrer=0&preview=false and I feel that it’s a damn shame that more isn’t available on him.  He deserves his own book…  Do you perhaps have any suggestions on how to publish a bio? Thank you so much for this thread!

      Rage, RAGE against the dying of the light!  Do not go gently into that good night!

    • Gryneos (1259 posts)
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      13. Well, since you went through a regular print-book publisher,

      I’m not sure if you can help.

      What I want is a detailed, step-by-step of everything involved in self-publishing of ebooks through Amazon. I have no intention of going through a traditional publisher partly due to the low royalty payback but also because I feel ebooks really are better, when created just for that format. That way, there are fewer issues with formatting or things being left out. I know of professionals to do the formatting for me, as well as people to do professional covers (another complaint I hear from friends who are writers through traditional publishers.)

      Yes, there are books and ebooks out there to help people this way, and I’ve got one. The problem is that they aren’t as concise as I’d like. Write it like stereo instructions or IKEA instructions and it would be a perfect self-help ebook-publishing book. At least it would for me ;)

      "You! Cake or death?" "Uh, cake for me, too, please." "Very well! Give him cake, too! We're gonna run out of cake at this rate. You! Cake or death?" "Uh, death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake, sorry. Sorry..." "You said death first, uh-uh, death first!" "Well, I meant cake!" "Oh, all right. You're lucky I'm Church of England!" Eddie Izzard, Dress To Kill
      • Bernice Ta (315 posts)
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        16. Have you downloaded Amazon's "Build Your Book for Kindle"?

        It’s a good place to start for formatting for better upload. Don’t let anyone tell you that some fancy software is needed, either. Simple Word works, if done properly (no tabs, for example).

        It’s pretty easy to publish on KDP (Amazon’s self-publishing platform). What kind of information do you need? I’ve thought off and on about a sort of ebooks for dummies type of book, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to it.


        In general, the main thing to do is focus on the writing first. Learn how to write dialog, narrative, character descriptions and so on. The only way is to get some writing craft books, and/or take courses. Finding books at the library is the cheapest way. Just ignore all that stuff about getting agents and seeking trad contracts.

        For nonfiction, like a cookbook, start a blog about your topic (vegan, Paleo, whatever) and build a following. There are lots of cookbooks out there, so you need to make your market and deliver something the others aren’t.


        If you guys are interested in doing this yourself, I can’t recommend enough going to this forum and reading everything you can:


        It’s one of, if not the best, forum for indie writers and publishers out there (barring private groups). Anything and everything you can think of, someone has discussed it there.

        • Gryneos (1259 posts)
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          19. I'm downloading it now. Thanks! :)

          I don’t understand why tabs would be a problem, though. All of my paragraphs have a standard first-line indent, as with most books I have ever read.

          And even though I use Word 2010, Microsoft adds a bunch of useless junks to their files, so I would hope none of that would get translated into the ebook. Basically, it’s bloatware. I do have Scrivener, though I haven’t yet learned it or started using it for writing. My primary reason for using it is to help me organize what I have written into something worth reading ;)

          "You! Cake or death?" "Uh, cake for me, too, please." "Very well! Give him cake, too! We're gonna run out of cake at this rate. You! Cake or death?" "Uh, death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake, sorry. Sorry..." "You said death first, uh-uh, death first!" "Well, I meant cake!" "Oh, all right. You're lucky I'm Church of England!" Eddie Izzard, Dress To Kill
    • LuckyDog (640 posts)
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      14. Here is a new book that can guide the novice through the mazes

      Green-Light Your Book: How Writers Can Succeed in the New Era of Publishing Kindle Edition
      by Brooke Warner (Author)


      This woman, Brooke Warner, founded SheWritesPress in Berkeley, an indie book publisher, focusing on female authors.  They are up and coming stars in the indie book publishing world, recently amassing several awards for their authors at this year’s indie booksellers’ convention in Chicago.  LuckyDog sez check it out, you won’t be disappointed.  Brooke is a no-nonsense person with experience and can lend credibility to the over-view of the current publishing world.


    • Flying Shoe (20 posts)
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      15. Willpower

      How do you keep the inspiration and enthusiasm to get a finished product?


      Our Satanic Overlord Cthulhu for President! "Why vote for a lesser evil?"
    • Aldroud (355 posts)
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      20. What I want to know. How do I get the great dialogue and images out of my head

      and onto the paper?  I have these great scenes and conversations in my head, but somewhere between imagination and paper, I lose the thread.

    • VoiceOfReason (989 posts)
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      21. could you provide copyright information

      to keep your writing from being plagiarized?

      btw, great op.

      "Men who do evil brilliantly are often admired"  Voltaire BERN BABY BERN!!  War is madness!