Thank you so much, Elisabeth Zguta for this guest post. I highly recommend her books. They are quite the page turners. Today Elisabeth is sharing her writing process,
Take it away, Elisabeth’
There’s much to know regarding publishing today. In the past ten years or more new trends have developed. The old way of doing things changed fast, and the familiar has been replaced with newer and better models. Yesterday’s traditional publishing is now more like a ‘vanity press’ today because it doesn’t guarantee anything except the imprint’s name on the inside cover.
Most of the work needs to be done by the author.
To do well in publishing, you must learn your craft and continue to grow as a writer, learn how to market, and you definitely need to invest your time.
No dream of writing a book is wrong unless you think that you don’t have to do the work for it to become a reality. If you anticipate instant gratification—think you can throw some words together, slap it into an eBook, and reap great rewards—well, think again!
Photo credit to George Hodan
This is a competitive market. You need to present your best work, not perfect, but the best you can offer at the time. Know this—publishing is a long road. You most probably won’t become famous with your first book, but you are more likely to have an impact with your fourth, and the odds are better still with your tenth . . . it’s a long journey. The great thing about Indie Publishing is the support most indie authors offer each other.
What we all have to do:
• Write a great story for fiction or present an entertaining topic for non-fiction.
• Edit in stages (developmental & context) then perform or hire the final proof editor. Don’t forget to read your work aloud, the best way to know if the story is engaging is to hear it. Better yet, read it with a reader friend.
• Format the work for various platforms: mobi file for KDP, epub file for other digital distributors like Kobo and Apple, pdf file format for POD (print on demand) for print books for physical stores and libraries. (Some authors choose not to publish a printed edition, though I don’t understand why.)
• Design the inside and the outside. Add a call to action to join your email list inside the book. Create or purchase a compelling cover. First impressions are important, the average first glance is seconds . . . So get it right.
• Final proof. Once you load your completed files go over the proof in each format. DO NOT SKIP this part because often there’s a weird quirk on a random page smack in the middle, hiding for your reader! For your digital book proofs, check all the links and make sure the TOC (Table of Content) works for each section.
My writing process is one that suits me, and it may work for you as well.
I write and rewrite as I go.
Recently there was an interesting article about this by Dean Wesley Smith who labeled this as “Cycling and the Art of One Clean draft” rather than rewriting. Read the post and the comments, too. You may agree or disagree, but the main idea is to stay in touch with the creative process or ‘muse’ for lack of a better word.
There are the two schools of writers: pansters and outliners. Some writers preach and prefer to outline first, and I guess I do a slight version of outlining to get myself started. But detailed outlines, in my opinion, interrupts the creative process. A skeletal framework can help to keep yourself on track while letting your free writing have room to roam. (IMO detailed outlining is best saved for non-fiction).
If you want to know what your goal is then use a simple outline as a guide for your first draft.
There are tools available as prescribed by Editor Shawn Coyne. Check out his book and website: The Story Grid There are two tools: the Story Spine and the Foolscap Global Story Grid. The Story Spine is a three-sentence outline that provides direction for when you’re writing the first draft, leaving room for your story to develop organically.
Later on, you could use the Foolscap which is a more detailed method that works best after you’ve completed the first draft. This is used to identify anything you might have missed for the genre you’re writing, basically tying things together suited for the chosen genre specifically.
Back to my beginning writing process: After the simple outline idea is defined, then I write.
Each time I sit to write, I go back a little and go over what’s already on the page and then continue. Every so often, approximately ten chapters or less, I stop and compile my work in progress into a temporary eBook format and open it on my iPad. Reading it aloud, I highlight where to make changes or fix things, then go back to my computer, correct the errors or add the new idea that popped up that may have enhanced a scene, and then I continue on.
Photo credit: axelle b
You can do this with any digital device (sometimes I compile and do a quick format into a mobi file and load onto my Kindle device for a change). If you don’t know how to format into digital reader formats, then use Calibre a freeware.
1. First save your document as a pdf file, easy to do in Word (save as pdf) or similar programs.
2. Then load this free software, which is a great digital library organizer to have on your desktop.
3. Upload the saved pdf file to the Calibre Library
4. Then use the option to convert it into mobi and/or epub file.
It’s simple, especially for people who learn hands on. Here’s a quick how-to video that might help. https://calibre-ebook.com/demo
My reason for doing proof reading/editorial review this way is two-fold:
1. First, reading it on a different device helps you see the mistakes that your eye rolls over while working on your computer.
2. Second, it is environmentally friendly, rather than wasting paper.
Some genres are easier to write than others, and each story is unique. One manuscript may need additional guides like time-lines (which need to be updated whenever you make changes). You may have to check back to your research if you can’t recall an important fact (especially if writing historical fiction or something using science as a backdrop). In my experience, it’s easier to verify the info while on that spot rather than relying on your memory to go back and fix it later. It saves time to fix as you go.
I use Scrivener to write. The software helps to make quick work of doing changes using the note card feature (corkboard feature). Also, you can get a quick review of the progress by downloading the worksheet file to see the stats (like word counts per scene, short descriptions of what happens, etc. I fill in brief details as I go). You could do this manually, use index cards, but I’m a software junkie.
Use this tool to check if the scenes are working (by the brief notes about each scene), check if the flow is there to meet the expectations for your genre, and the chapter lengths, etc. Basically, I do the same as the Foolscap but as I go. Anything you deem essential to your story can be checked and tracked.
Here are instructional videos to help you get started if you’re interested. There is a marginal cost, but worth every penny in my opinion.
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What you can do to stay inspired while writing:
• Grab photos while you research, use them for inspiration in between writing sprees. This works well to inspire cover ideas, ads, and book trailers later, too.
• Play music that inspires your story theme while writing, or better yet, in between your writing, so it keeps your mind working while doing other things. For example, if you’re writing Sci-fi listen to futuristic music, like the score of Star Wars or Techno music. If you write romance, then listen to more moving themes like the score of Romeo and Juliet. You get my drift.
• Watch movies that have the same story topic to keep your subconscious mind working on your own story. If you’re writing a Western Romance, then watch some John Wayne movies, if writing a historical fiction then tune into the History Channel.
If you haven’t heard this already, it is never too early to market your book. Many successful launches actually begin months before the book is even released. If you can use some of the elements of marketing also to help provide encouragement for you to keep writing, then it’s the best possible scenario.
If you’re into Pinterest this is a great time to use it as a tool. You can begin building some buzz about your book by the boards you create. If you’re writing about elves, add a board about fairytales and elves. Add and search clips to interact with people who also like elves—chances are they will be your perfect target market.
If you’re not into pin boards, then maybe you’d enjoy using YouTube and create a channel. Make quick videos (best to keep them timed to 1 minute or less). Use the ideas from your story to create smart video clips (they can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, G+, and Instagram) If you’re writing a gardening book, take pics of your favorite flowers or veggies, add music and voila! Here’s a basic how-to from scratch.
A word of caution: Whenever you create something to share publically using another artist’s work, you must be respectful of the copyrights. You cannot use other people’s photos, music, fonts, etc. without permission unless they are specifically noted as ‘public domain, free to use’ or are labeled ‘may use as long as you give credit (CC) Common License can be partial use like for educational purposes only. Find the boring details here if you have a question: Copyright Law
Photo credit: kai Stachowiak
What you should do to build momentum about the book while writing:
• Talk about your book topic when you’re on social media, give updates on your progress, or say things (without giving away your story) that will peak interest in your book. It’s referred to building the Book BUZZ . . . Read more here at Build Book Buzz blog with Sandra Beckwith
• Create or join a group who’s interested in the topic of your book. You may even get additional inspiration or ideas from other group members to help solidify your characters or plot twists.
• Guest blog for other bloggers who have the same interests as in your book.
• Use social media as a tool to talk up your book and hook potential readers (Highly suggest to stay off hot-button topics that could hurt your reputation or close doors to potential customers)
Photo credit: Animated Heaven
It’s easy to wander from your main idea while publishing; there’s a lot of advice and tactics offered, and everyone has an opinion (myself included), and it’s hard to see what works from a waste of time. Find what works best for you.
Each book deserves its own launch, and it is essential to make a plan.
Some can be launched with a direct approach (usually right for non-fiction). Other books may require you to take the scenic route (especially when your genre is very specific). There are silent launches, which is a continuous flow of information to interest potential readers. There are also celebratory launches that involve live events, either on social media or in person, like a book launch party or book launch blog party. It can be as elaborate or as low-key as you want. In person or via social media. The goal is always the same—to get your book out there!
I have to admit, some of the ‘should do’s’ listed above I haven’t done. Everyone has time limits, and it’s important that you discover yours. Use the most effective avenue to fit your schedule and get the biggest bang for your time spent. You should totally do as much as you can—hell, you may have more ideas that you can develop that never made my list. I hope so.
I’m an advocate for self-publishing, believe that the tools are there for us, and you can do it if you have the desire and work ethic to get it done. You can be a publisher.
Use the platforms that work well for you, don’t spread yourself too thin, and make efficient use of the direction you’ve chosen to take.
Focus on your project—it’s essential!
Keep reading – Keep writing!
Thank you, Cygnet Brown, for your guest post spot.
If you’re interested in learning more about Indie Publishing and don’t know where to begin, please visit my website which will point you in the right direction to discover the best publishing information for today. Visit EZ Indie Publishing .com
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Dean Wesley Smith
Photographers from PublicDomain.net