For a complete understanding of writing, I encourage you to get your own copy of T&R Independent Books Guide to Writing. It provides the necessary basics that this page cannot hope to duplicate.
That said, I will provide an overview of most issues right here. But if you are a Christian writer there and want to go beyond the basics, consider Christian Authors Community.
WHY BE A WRITER?
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Phil. 4:13
This is a question we start asking from the day we can speak. And most of the time the answer is unfulfilling for us. But for a writer it is a key question. It has the power to make or break us as far as writing is concerned.
It is so important that it serves as a principle. And I put it first because I believe it critical to your success.
Principle: Discover the WHY motivation
This sounds very simple and in some ways it is. But it also requires you to be honest with yourself.
Why do you want to write?
You might start with a simple question, such as: What is my motivation to become writer?
The tough part is answering the question. Let me assure you that although your motivation may look and sound like a dozen other would-be authors, it is unique to you.
And that is why over time your answer will change. Don’t be afraid of that fact, embrace it.
So back to the question: Why do you want to write?
Here are some ideas that might provoke deeper thought:
- Love to read
- Lively imagination
- Love writing
- Want to be independent
- Want to make money
- God called me
The book goes into each point deeper, but these points should get your thought processes moving.
Other matters to be concerned with:
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” I Cor. 14:40
First, we need to explain Genre. It is defined in Wikipedia as: A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or even (as in the case of fiction) length. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups.
There are many Genre subgroups. So, you, the author, must decide where your writing fits.
Discovering your genre will be a valuable aid not only in marketing, but in the writing and publishing of your book. Don’t brush this aside. When I first began writing I didn’t even know what genre was, let alone which one I was under. At best I knew that I was writing fiction. I had much to learn.
As time went on, I began understanding the meaning and importance of genre. The more I learned, the better my writing and my marketing.
In my case I write both fiction and non-fiction. In the fiction arena my genres have been historical fiction and Christian fiction. But my writing genres are also: Adventure, Romance, and even some Mystery.
My non-fiction works have been on American History, Bible History, Politics, and How To. This book you are reading is a How-To genre aimed at enabling you to write well.
This is important and is covered in our Guide, but we will skip it here.
There are other topics, such as audience, plot, character, location, resources, page setup, and scenes. But I will here focus on grammar.
Your grammar must be perfect!
Actually that depends on who you talk to and the specifics involved. Here is my take:
Generally speaking you want your grammar usage as correct as possible, but there are exceptions. For example, let’s say one of your characters only has a ninth grade education.
You would not want that character talking like a professor. For that matter, you really don’t want any of your characters to talk that way unless they actually are professors.
Now I don’t recommend that you try to imitate slang and accents, but just be cautious. Maybe allow a character to have a favorite saying. In Perished: The World That Was I had Methuselah with a favorite saying, “So God has said, so shall it be.”
Which brings up a related principle: Be consistent. If I later had someone else using that same phrase it could have been a jolt. Be consistent.
So here’s the principle: When you are dealing with conversation (or even thoughts) you can and should be less than perfect but consistent. Everything else should be perfect.
Aside from speaking, there is the matter of punctuation and spelling. With the tools available this should never be a problem, but it does occur. It is therefore necessary to check your spelling and punctuation as often as possible.
These are just some of the principles that you need to consider.
We’ve taken a look at writing, now let’s look at publishing.
Basically there are three types of publishing. These are Traditional, Self, and Indie publishing.
How does one seek a publisher? First, you must decide what kind of publisher you need. See the chapters on Self-Publisher, Traditional Publishing, and You, the Publisher.
This is actually a critical decision. Unfortunately there is a lot of mudslinging going on. Not to mention confusion. In my chapters on the different types of publishing I strive to clear it up a little.
But before you make that decision you will want to search the internet and discover who and what these publishers are. Even more important, is to decide the overall direction you want to go.
In future chapters I examine each type of publisher closer, but here it is important that you know what you need.
Here are just a few things to examine:
- How long are you willing to wait for your book to be published?
- Can you afford $400 or more upfront?
- Are you a new author?
Since we are looking at Traditional Publishing, you need only be concerned with the first and last question.
Unless you are an established author it is very difficult to get with a traditional publisher. That is because the houses are well established, have a reputation, and, probably, don’t want to take a risk on an unproven novice.
Even so, it is not impossible.
Many of these Traditional Publishing Houses will not even consider a manuscript unless the author is represented by an agent.
This is good because when dealing with them you need to have the expertise and knowledge of the agent on your side.
It is also important to remember that some traditional publishers specialize in genre. Some only want established authors. Some may temporarily suspend new acquisitions because they already have a boatload.
But there are some traditional publishers looking for new authors. If you write Christian fiction you may be interested in Christian Publishers.
Self-Publishing is coming into its own with resulting improvements in quality and acceptance.
It’s true that self-publishers rarely reject a manuscript, but some do reject if the manuscript is deemed of poor quality.
You rarely get rejected if you are willing to pay the fee (usually $400-$800). Though they are willing to publish you should still practice thorough editing before submitting the work.
This is an alphabetical listing of some of the better known houses:
- America Star *
- AuthorHouse ***
- Lightning Source
- Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
- Outskirts Press
- Tate Publishing
- Trafford Publishing***
- Zulon Press****
* Between self-publishing and traditional. Recently opted out of publishing and is only interested in marketing.
** Publishes eBooks only. It is free.
*** Owned by Author Solutions.
**** Christian Self-Publishing.
When I started writing I made use of AuthorHouse and America Star. In both cases I was pleased with their work. In fact, any of the houses mentioned above probably provide excellent quality and service.
If you are choosing between Traditional and Self-Publishing, Self-Publishing is the better in my opinion. That said, there is yet a better way.
These days the author has more responsibility than ever before and more opportunities!
In days gone by the author wrote a novel, submitted it to a publisher, and once accepted, relaxed. But that is no longer true!
There are all kinds of publishers out there. But here I want to present you with a different perspective. Previously I mentioned that there is a better way than self-publishing. You are about to see what I was talking about. First a brief history. I published my first novel in 2003. Since then I have written a number of books. The first four books were all published by self-publishers. But in 2013 I discovered Smashwords.com and published my first eBook. (My other books are also in the eBook format, but the publisher did this because I paid for it.)
This discovery has changed my life and now I am about to reveal to you what I believe is a better way to publish.
That better way is simply: You are the publisher!
At the time there was almost no information on the subject but today there’s considerable. It is called Indie Publishing which tells you right off the bat that as a publisher you are independent. This is an important distinction.
Indie Publishing is the author taking ultimate charge. Basically it means selecting a printer or publisher to print our books. And there are publishers out there willing to be our printer and even our marketer.
The one I am most familiar with is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). CreateSpace whom I was with merged with KDP so now all my print books are with KDP. Plus, I have eBooks with KDP and a few with Smashwords.
But assuming the role of publisher is more than just getting a printer. You literally take on the responsibilities of a publisher. You may have to seek your own ISBN, copyright, and other important items.
In our case, we listed ourselves with the State of Florida with a DBA (Doing Business As) name of T&R Independent Books. Because we use KDP we are able to use their ISBNs which are free, although they also sell other ISBNs for a modest price. Copyrights are free.
It is both exciting and scary. But the rewards can be awesome. For example, a self-publisher may give us anywhere from 8% to 40% royalty depending on volume of books sold. But as our own publisher the percentage jumps up to 60% and more (before costs and taxes).
In addition to that, we have virtual control over every aspect. It is true that with Kindle Direct some control lies with them, but it is also true that such controls are limited.
There is more to learn about Indie, but we will move on to marketing.
Marketing is divided much like Publishing. There are three types: Traditional, Self, and Indie. The pros and cons are also similar. The thing to remember is that most of the marketing will be done by you no matter which way you go! We will explore this more in the future.