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How to Write a Book

Haha, did I get you fooled there? Did you think I was actually going to teach you how to write a book? If you did, you are wrong. I don’t think there’s one way to write a book, and if there is, I don’t know about it. But anyway, I thought I would take a quick break from writing Tacita to write a post.

I’ve been doing some editing on Tacita today. Here’s the first paragraph (more or less) from 23/6/12, and then from today, 27/8/12. Just to see the difference.

23/6/12

‘One day, Marcus, that will be you.’

            The song of metal on metal screamed out below us, making our father’s words almost inaudible. The two fighters were locked in their world: the noise of the crowd, the sand slipping underneath their feet was not even there. To them, the only thoughts in their minds were to kill. Nothing else mattered.

            The taller man was tiring quickly, the swords in his hands slipping from his grip. One dropped, hitting the ground with a soft thud, and the light in his eyes went out, replaced with a look of desperation and hopelessness.

And now 27/8/12…

‘One day, Marcus, that will be you.’

                The song of metal on metal screamed out below us, making our father’s words almost inaudible. The two fighters were locked in their world: the noise of the crowd, the sand slipping underneath their feet did not exist. To them, the only thing they had to do was kill. Nothing else mattered.

                The taller man, the dimachaerus, was tiring quickly, the swords in his hands slipping from his grip. One dropped, hitting the ground with a soft thud. He cried out desperately, too tired to reach for his weapon.

A bit of a change, no? Well, it’s not too much of a change for two months, but it’s quite different.

That brings me to a point about editing. Does every single professional (or amateur-wanting-to-turn-professional) writer/author have their own editor? I was wondering whether it’s a necessary thing. I don’t have my own editor (obviously), but does that mean I’ll never be able to get published? I was thinking of just using willing family members to edit for me. Does that count?

And anyway, how much do you need to edit? I’ve read loads of things saying how the first draft is rubbish, so you go and edit it lots of times to get the finished novel. For some reason, I can’t seem to think I’ll ever go and edit after I’ve written the whole thing, and rewrite stuff over and over again. I like to edit as I go. But does that mean my novel will be rubbish? Do you even have to edit at all? What if your novel is amazing first time? I’m not saying it will be, but say someone writes a novel so good they don’t need to edit, but then their editor/someone makes them edit. If you don’t edit, or edit a tiny bit, does it make your novel rubbish and you as a writer rubbish too?

When reading articles about how to get your novel published, it seems like such a huge chore. Writing is supposed to be fun, but then you get signed on a book deal and have deadlines. Can you opt out of doing that and just write, find a publisher and get it published? Do you have to sign contracts and everything? It seems so annoying to do that anyway. I guess that’s why lots of people are turning to self-publishing, but I’ve heard that’s expensive.

Except on Kindle! They’ve got their own service where you can publish your own book and get 70% of the money. That sounds like a great deal. But then again, you don’t have marketing people to advertise, so you just do it yourself, I guess. But even with a Kindle-self-published book, do you need an editor, an agent, and all these other people? I would prefer to just write the novel, ask family for some editing help and publish on my own. That way I get more money anyway, because it seems writers make next to nothing. The publisher seems to get most of it. You’ve got to be a really good writer to make a living out of it.

Random thing: I was wondering how publishers did it in the past. Like, with all these classic novels like Jane Eyre and stuff. Did they have publishers, editors and other people?

So when I finish Tacita, I’m not sure which route to go down. Proper publishing seems pretty scary and tiring, but you get your book out there to the world. But self-publishing (on Kindle) seems so much easier, but hardly anyone will look at your book in amongst all the proper ones. Especially if your cover design is rubbish, then people steer clear. (By the way, the book Under the Eagle has a new cover design on Amazon, and it’s awesome.)

Even if you’re a self-published/amateur author, I think you need a good designer to do your cover. But where on earth do you get one of them? I’m not a Photoshop wizard and I can’t make an eye-catching cover design (mostly because there aren’t any photos amateurs like me can use without getting murdered for copyright infringement), but if I had the right stuff, I could make a pretty average one. But it seems the proper covers have had to have had (that sounds so weird, but I don’t know how to phrase it properly) photoshoots to get the right image. That is definitely hard for a self-published/amateur, to get one of them sorted out. How do you even get models? It’s so confusing!

Then again, there are those royalty-free images online, but they’ve got those watermarks all over them, which will look terrible on a professional book cover. It all leads to the photoshoot!

For a final thing that’s not got too much to do with writing: I was wondering how good Twitter is, because it seems like the sort of thing I would like, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to get it or if it’s worth it at all. I don’t want my life sucked away by social networking, after all.

Your confused writy blogger, Jaz

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2 comments on “How to Write a Book

  1. Jaz, although I’ve had several articles printed in trade magazines and special interest publications, I’ve never been tempted to write or publish a book and therefore can’t advise you in your dilemma. I would, however, suggest that there are two rather different types of ‘editor’.

    The first would be akin to a proof-reader and would make sure that your grammar, syntax and spelling are correct. That type of editor could well be a friend or family member whom you trust to have high standards of written English.

    The other kind of editor, as you’ve already implied, works for a publishing house and will do all the functions mentioned above (probably through sub-editors actually) and will ALSO advise – maybe demand – changes in style and content that in his/her opinion will make the book more marketable.

    Of course going through a publishing house may initially be much more expensive and even disheartening; you may get dozens of refusals before eventually finding a publisher who likes your work and is prepared to invest money in publishing it. Of course they will take their fees and percentages, but if they think they’re on a winner, they may make you an advance of royalties. They definitely will not charge you money to publish (so avoid anyone who tries that like the plague !).

    Private publishing, self publishing or ‘vanity’ publishing will rely entirely on whether YOU think your work is good enough to sell and whether YOU are prepared to spend money to test that belief. A good publishing house (and there are quite a lot of them) will be investing THEIR money and they won’t do that unless they think they have the makings of a good book in their hands.

    As far as Kindle is concerned, I really don’t have a clue ! Sorry.

    • Thank you for all your helpful advice. It’s got me thinking a lot. Publishing a book still sounds quite hard, but if there are some good publishers around, it would be interesting to see if any of them like the idea of Tacita. I suppose I don’t need lots of money from the book, but it would be nice to get royalties or something.

      “A good publishing house (and there are quite a lot of them) will be investing THEIR money and they won’t do that unless they think they have the makings of a good book in their hands.”

      That’s quite encouraging actually 🙂 If one ever accepts me, then it’s a compliment because they think Tacita will be good!

      But the whole ‘demanding-editor’ thing sounds quite annoying, but if it’s necessary, then… I don’t know. But the first type of editor sounds OK, and it’s free. I’m assuming the other type costs money.

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