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Getting ready to write a book

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  1. n0ct3m

    n0ct3m Well-Known Member

    I'm getting ready to start writing my own book. At first it was going to be a movie script, but I decided to go the novel route instead. My only fear, however, is that I really won't be any good at coming up with several different ideas that I can form into one book. Any of you ever tried writing before and have tips on keeping the creative juices flowing?

  2. eyebeam

    eyebeam Well-Known Member

    Best advice I have is to buy up some Kramer stories about falling in the mud while returning some pants. DO NOT use any Newman bunion ones! :D (any Seinfeld fans here?)

    Seriously, I tried myself a few years ago, and quickly figured out that I am not a writer, so my advice would be of limited value. But best of luck to you. Maybe when you get some stuff down, you'd like to let the folks here read a rough draft or a chapter or two to get some feedback.
  3. Potvin63

    Potvin63 Well-Known Member

    I've actually written two novels and a handful of screenplays and TV shows, none of which I've tried to get published but just for fun.

    They are different animals so here are a few tips:

    For a screenplay, you don't have to say as much because you have the visual element to allow the audience to see and understand things. Also there are a handful of very active and supportive screenwriting message boards out there. When I wrote my screenplays it was only after outlining individual scenes on index cards, very broadly, and then when I sat down to write each scene, just expanding on what I had written on the card.

    For a book, I would go into it with a pretty firm idea of how it's going to end and going backwards from there. You don't need to prepare index cards as much as an outline of at least several pages where you explore the characters, main plot points, and any ideas you have that you feel should be in the book.

    It never hurts to ask for advice about this kind of thing and I found it to be a very rewarding experience. The idea of creating a world entirely out of your own imagination can be incredible.

    Good luck!
    flowers4u likes this.
  4. ElasticNinja

    ElasticNinja Well-Known Member

    Well I would try write a few short stories on different themes first.
    Find one you like - stick with it ;)
  5. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Forgive the sloppy post. It is copied and pasted from several documents and I do not want to proofread. I think I can help, however.

    First, a question: Do you want to try to sell your book to a traditional publisher, or a subsidy/vanity/POD publisher? There is a big difference in your approach. Traditional publishers wont take everything that comes over the transom, and rejection is par for the course. Other kinds of publishers will print damn near anything, regardless of the quality.

    Understand that publishing via the vanity approach is generally worthless in the world of legitimate publishing. Sorry, but there is no respect there and that is generally how it must be. Writing a book is a huge undertaking and no wanna be novelist with nothing to say, selling his slop on Lulu Press is likely to be worth the same as a book that a big publisher wants and eventually publishes. Sorry, I like to paint with broad strokes.

    Published authors absolutely know this, as do legitimate publishers, agents, and editors. This is not opinion, it is a simple fact that every new author damn well needs to know. Start thinking differently, start thinking I exaggerate, and you run the risk of becoming a "PublishAmerica" victim. Google that PARTICULAR company and dig deep, well past the top returns where everything is happy and perfect. Your vanity means nothing at all and you will not be taken seriously by anyone that matters.

    When anyone can publish anything, there is usually very little quality.

    Forget wanting to write because it is a calling. I write because I am afraid of the calling. That is to say, Visa, and Master Card calling me. I know your goal is to sell your book; it is the Great American Dream. And trust me on this, there are ways that help you possibly get a contract and things that will slowly screw the life out of you as you struggle uphill against a battle you might loose, because of your inattention to basic and fundamental publishing truths. This is a business, after all.

    For fun, try this site: Travis Tea - author of Atlanta Nights. Before you visit, try saying the site name and think about bad publishers. I hope someone gets it.

    For the record, I use Lulu Press for some stuff I want to distribute to interested parties. And it is terrible crap. I am not a great writer and I struggle like hell. Just a technical writer with hopes.

    To Continue:

    You can't join certain writers guilds or associations like the WGA unless you have credits. They will not let everyone in, regardless of how many books you have self-published. Try Writers Guild of America, West and do a little research. They maintain a list of reputable agents and they are quite serious. By the way, there is a Writer's Guild of America - East and West. There is also a Writer Guilds of America. The WGA is a legitimate guild and they have represented writers for a very long time.

    The Agent Question:

    No, the circular argument that says you cant get an agent unless you sell and how can you sell without an agent? is not valid; Thousands of unagented books are sold every year. Agents do have value in that they fight for you because they more you make the more they make. STAY AWAY from any agent that wants a fee. By the way, visit a few agent sites and you will discover that getting an agent is not as impossible as the general public thinks. NO Friggin Book Doctors!

    If you sell a book to Random House, for example, the process can be slow. You work with great people and editors to help you shape your work. If you have an agent -easier to get if RH wants to see your work- he or she will also help you. Publishing contracts are not for the beginner and you might want to keep some of the rights you might not be aware of at this point. This is where agents help. Stay the heck away from Work For Hire deals. You loose far too much.

    Suppose J.K. Rowling gave away movie or merchandising rights?

    There are a few places like LULU Press that do not claim to be legitimate publishers; places like "Author House" seem to suggest they are. Lulu Press is a Print on Demand (POD) Publisher that does not offer services that are almost always offered by a traditional publisher. You upload a manuscript, some cover art, and thats it. They handle printing and shipping. Fair and honest because they do not pretend to be something they are not.

    Also, largely forget getting a self-published work into the book stores. Most buyers will not touch you. Amazon dot com, yes; then again, that is a no brainer, because most anything can be sold on Amazon. Not a legitimate big deal achievement to be sure.

    I will assume you want a traditional publisher. First and this IS VERY IMPORTANT: Learn the differences between vanity, subsidy, POD, and traditional publishing. Research your market and READ THE WRITERS AND AUTHORS GUIDELINES FIRST. Visit a few publisher's web sites and look for author information. They are often called 'Writer's Guidelines.'

    The writer's Guidelines tell you everything you need to know -from what to write (most publishers will tell you what they are interested in and not interested in) to how to format your manuscript, to what supplemental info is required. For example, some publishers/editors want a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, an author's bio, a list of previous works published by you, any competing books on the market, (their publisher name, date, etc) and how you intend to help market the book. Yes, this is expected.

    They also tell you about fonts, line spacing, indents, margins, and the purely mechanical aspects of that pile of pages. Typically, 1" to 1-1/2 inch borders, double spaced, printed on a single side of the bond stock paper, in black and white and clipped together, not stapled.

    All that is left for you is the quality of your writing.

    NEVER pay a book doctor. A huge scam in the business. NEVER pay for publishing; no upfront fees will be required by a legitimate publisher. MONEY ALWAYS FLOWS TO THE AUTHOR NOT FROM THE AUTHOR. You would due well to never forget that line. Repeat it... go on, I'm waiting, good. REPEAT IT TWICE!

    Run like hell if they want ANY MONEY AT ALL! If a legitimate publisher wants your book, they will send you an advance and they will send you a contract. This is an advance against royalties. If you receive an advance of ten grand and your royalty is a buck a book, you do not see anything past the advance until ten thousand copies are sold. Advances are basically zero interest loans to be paid from the sales of books. And you likely never repay the advance, so perhaps it is not really a loan.

    My suggestion is to visit the WGA web site and pick up a few basic books about writing your first novel. Look for books published by Writer's Digest. Subscribe to "Writers Digest Magazine," "Book Magazine," "The Writer." If you want to follow the market, try "Publisher's Weekly." Very pricey, though.They are generally great reads and they tell you exactly how it is. Also, visit some industry sites like Publisher's Weekly and join a local writing group for help.

    Finally, try writing a few magazine articles. Real paper and ink publications.


    Bob Maxey
    dan330 likes this.
  6. Wordslinger

    Wordslinger Well-Known Member

    I'm currently editing my first novel (and hopefully sending it to agents soon). Writing is hard work and keeping the creativity going can be difficult sometimes. It comes and goes for me. Basically, if it's there I write, if it's not I go play Xbox or watch a movie. A lot of writers will tell you to write through the rough days just to get the words on the page even if they're crap, but I've never liked that piece of advice since they are usually writers who work without an outline (they call it organic writing). I use an outline and know where my story is going, so if my creativity is off one day I walk away from the work. Every writer is different.

    I highly suggest you hang out on the absolutewrite forums. Especially the "basic writing" and "novel" forums. There's quite a few published authors on there. The members are incredibly helpful and love writing. You'll learn a lot about the craft.
    dan330 likes this.
  7. johnmac1

    johnmac1 Guest

    Hey..writing novels is not an easy task. Gathering ideas at one place and making them in a good format is not easy. When everything will be ok and you have completed your book with mind blowing ideas the problem occurs at the next stage. If the printing design is not good and it is not printed in a good format than it will destroy everything.

    My advice to you plan for printing also that which printing company you will hire so that the book is a complete package for sale with not only ideas but also with the design which usually attract the readers.
  8. ArthurIhde

    ArthurIhde Well-Known Member

    i like your book [​IMG]
  9. I second everything that Bob Maxey has said. Getting published is a tough game, and my one word of advice to anyone who wants to write is: Do it because you love it.

    Enjoy writing the story, inventing the world, the scenes and the characters.

    Last year I used Lulu to print a book that was quite well received, and managed to get store placement (Waterstone's in the UK). It's now on Kindle and Apple's iBookstore. I'm also making an Android quiz for it, so that people who have read the book can answer questions on it.

    It's good fun. Do enjoy the writing.
  10. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    I think there needs to be a little clarification. First, if you are planning to write a book destined for traditional publishing, do not worry about formatting. Your publisher will handle the formatting and layout of your book. You will NEVER submit a formatted book to a traditional/legitimate publisher.

    If your book is destined for self-publishing, Vanity, Subsidy, etc., yes, perhaps formatting is a concern. Someone mentioned Lulu Press and yes, formatting is up to the author if using Lulu Press.

    Bob Maxey
  11. ElasticNinja

    ElasticNinja Well-Known Member

    Hey a fellow corkonian! :D

    What Bob posted made a lot of sense
    I know someone who got a book published and you have to be really careful with who you choose.
  12. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Here in the United States, and I HAVE NOT ASKED about various store policies in over a year, but a self-published book will likely never make it into a store. I know that several years ago, our group did a survey and discovered that most buyers ignore all self-published efforts. One retailer here in Utah would consider self-published local books from local authors about local Utah places, but for all other genres, forget it.

    I have not read your book, so do not think I am talking about you specifically, StevenJSweeny, but for the most part, self-published books are terrible. Not all, but most. This is to be expected when anyone can write, print, and deliver a book to a customer.

    Email me a manuscript, and it will be for sale, printed and bound, in about one hour or less. Places like Lulu Press make the effort meaningless.

    The reason is simple: terrible plotting, horrible editing, and errors of every stripe are often overlooked by the author.

    This also explains why there is sooooo much crap on the Internet. It is getting worse, too. These days, lots of sites want free content or they want to pay the writer little to nothing. Many of the writers do so, not because they can, but because the net will gladly accept terrible crap that no traditional publisher
    EsmereldaPea and flowers4u like this.
  13. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Unless you are going the self-publishing (and all of the variants) route, remember this: Money must ALWAYS flow to the writer, never from the writer.

    So avoid those publishers that want money for various services, and absolutely stay away from book doctors. Never required if you are publishing traditionally.

    flowers4u likes this.
  14. flowers4u

    flowers4u Member

    This is a really good idea! Go for it … live out your dream :) I also love writing – in fact reading and writing are my favorite occupations. I'm also planning to write an ebook. However to be on the safe side I'm blogging some of the material and when I feel the time's right and I'm ready for it, then I'll compile and edit all my blog posts into a proper book.
    This is my 2 cents worth …
  15. flowers4u

    flowers4u Member

    First of all your advice has inspired me to give it a try with fiction writing. Up to now I've only done essay writing, reporting, and biographical sketches on special people who have had a major influence on my way of thinking.
    Indeed writing is exceedingly rewarding! I was really walking on air when I published my first blog posts. I put a lot of effort into my writing and when I finally found the courage to publish my posts, I felt so good about it.
  16. flowers4u

    flowers4u Member

    You've hit the nail right on the head
  17. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

  18. flowers4u

    flowers4u Member

    "To be safe" means not to invest money in something which in the end doesn't sell. Publishing blog posts doesn't cost anything (no printing expenses, etc.). From the feedback I get for my blog posts I can then see whether people like what I write and if they find it interesting. Publishing articles on my blog is essentially the first stage towards publishing my book. When I've got all the material ready, Please God, I'll publish an e-book on my website and have an option for print on demand. The whole project will be self-published.
  19. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Do not get too excited. Regardless of how many positive comments you receive, you still need to convert those readers that like your blog into customers that will shell out the cold hard cash for your book.

    Bob Maxey
  20. dan330

    dan330 Well-Known Member

    great info....
    and the great advice...
    and forum.

    i am trying my hand at writing a children's book for 3-6yr olds. I have a rough draft for an 18 page book. I was a pretty good artist in my earlier years. I think I have a good idea in my mind how it will look. I might be able to get out a very good rough draft of the book.

    it is a simple.

    do I really need an editor?

    where would I start with publishers for this type of book?
  21. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Yes, you need an editor. The first editor is you. You know your content better than anyone else, so polish it well and make it shine.

    However, should you hire an editor is a question often asked. There is no short answer except this: at some point, your book will be edited. You would be surprised at how many well known and over paid authors are edited by highly skilled editors.

    When you sign that fat contract, you will be dealing with an editor. He or she will do much for you because publishers want great books. If you find an agent, again, your book will be edited.

    Do not hire a freelance editor or a Book Doctor, however. Begin by finding a publisher or an agent that will consider your efforts and go from there. Search the web for publishers or look in the children
  22. dan330

    dan330 Well-Known Member

    Bob M...

    so editors do more than just check for my technical skills...
    they also help edit the style and flow? add to the feel and movement of the story?

    again this is going to be mostly a picture book.. the picture will tell 60 - 70% of the story. Can the editor help with the illustrations too? I would guess if they dont like the art work... they will hire an illustrator to do it for me?
  23. Bob Maxey

    Bob Maxey Well-Known Member

    Editors look for spelling and punctuation problems, flow, consistency, etc. They know what mistakes to avoid and they generally help make your book great. They shape your book and a good editor does a considerable amount of hand holding. They are experts in the Children
  24. Potvin63

    Potvin63 Well-Known Member

    I totally forgot about this thread and that I had posted a reply until now. Thanks for the kind words. I think now more than ever there are great ways for people who want to write to put their words and voice out there into the universe. I had several kinds of blogs years ago myself but after a few years it started to feel time consuming and as I moved on to longer length projects it appeared doubtful that anyone would read a blog containing entire chapters or full length screenplays.

    Write the kind of material that makes you happy and as some of the other excellent comments in this thread have pointed out the more you write and edit your own material the better your own writing will become. It has been too long since I've been able to write and I fear that if I don't set aside time each week to write that I never will.

    Best of luck in your writing Flowers.
  25. Borat38

    Borat38 Well-Known Member

    I just finished a 600-page novel. My best advice would be to lay off the manuscript once in a while when recharging for ideas. The best parts of my novel (as per my editors' rating) I realized came to me when I wasn't working or thinking about the book: while driving, in the shower, watching TV, etc.

    Also, keep a notebook for ideas. I scribbled down everything in mine: half-developed thoughts, plot devices, sketches of scenes that I wanted to happen, doodles, conversations between characters that I knew could later be put to use in a yet-unwritten part of the book, etc.

    Good luck! And don't forget to hire a professional editor/s when you're done. I found this to be the most valuable advice I received as a first-time novelist.

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