10 Things A Author Should Have Before Writing A Book
I was recently asked to write an article on the ten things an author should have in mind before writing a book. Writing a book is like getting your first tattoo. You should think long and hard about what type of tattoo you’re going to place on your body, because it is going to be with you forever. Writing a book is the same. You have to pick good subject matter because that book once written and published will always be connected to you and will still be here long after you are gone. So with that being said, remember to write about things that you truly care about. Down below are ten simple things an author should remember before writing a manuscript that will be made into a book.
Story line– When I am going to start a new book, I like to first think about what genre my new book will fall in, is it a romance, western, thriller etc… I then come up with what I like to call the message, what is the base of my story, is it love, romance, action or horror etc.. Next thing I am going to do is pick a time frame in which my story is going to unfold itself in. Is it taking place in current time or is taking place in a past era like the 1800’s. Then I am going to pick a simple story line. What is my story about? What is the message I am trying to send the reader? Is my story line base on the old west or is it about two people stranded on a deserted island. I am not a mechanical writer, I do not build my story around scenes that I have created in advance, rather I am a spontaneous writer I don’t know from one writing session to the next what is going to transpire with my characters. I allow the characters to take me in the direction they want to go. Every author is different in the style they use to write. In my opinion there is no one best style to use.
Strong Characters– Having strong characters is the most important part of your story. It is so important because they are the main focus of bringing your story alive for the reader. If your characters are weak, then your story will be weak as well. The littlest detail such as picking the names of your characters has the greatest impact on how your characters are perceived by the reader. Bringing your characters alive in your story will start with the selection of great names that fits your characters image.
Strong Imagination– Now my favorite part of writing is using my imagination. As an author you must remember that you have an obligation to the reader to use your imagination. If you use your imagination right, your writings can be the eyes and ears that give the reader the ability to travel to distant lands that they otherwise may never see. The details you place in your book should place emphasis on the who, why, what, when, where and if done right will opens up the readers imagination as well. Let’s use the example of a person who has been blind their whole life. This person is sitting down and listening to an audio version of your book. Because you took the time to be very detailed in what your characters were doing, seeing, feeling and smelling, it gave this persons imagination the opportunity to actually see for the first time things that they had never seen before. Detail is so important it is what keeps the reader glued to your book.
Dedication– Now this is the tough part. Finding time to complete your project. Life is full of distractions; it is very hard sometimes to find the time to write. Not only is it hard to find time, but on average you will rewrite your manuscript at least 3 times to make sure you have brought the story alive in a proper manner. I think the most boring part of writing for me is conducting a grammar check on my manuscript. I think by the time I get to this final stage of my project I am pretty burnt out and ready to move on to another project. Well guess what, you can’t. You have to be dedicated to completing the project at hand.
Knowledge of the Author Industry– This is the part where most authors fail. They don’t take the time to find out what the author industry is all about. I encourage all authors to buy books about the book industry. Do your home work as people may say, because you are entering into a very competitive business. People who are successful in life research what they are venturing into. Believe me there is plenty time to go to the author’s school of hard knocks. The simplest things as keeping up on what genres are the hottest in the industry means the difference between making money and not making any sales at all. So I will end this by saying know the business, absorb as much information about being an author as you can get your hands on. It will help you down the road.
Goals– Goal setting is very important for everything you do in life. When you’re setting goals for yourself it is actually the time in your life you sit down and say, self who am I? What do I want out of life? What direction am I heading and how far do I want to go? Setting goals give you a starting point and ending point. Start off with a simple goal and expand it further once you have achieved it.
Faith in Yourself– This is a big one. If you do not have faith in yourself then why should anyone else have faith in you? The book writing industry is tough. You must have faith in your product, but you must be prepared to handle denial. Now denial does not mean your product is no good. I think a lot of people self publish because they cannot handle denial. They send their manuscript into 50 publishers and they get denials back in return. Listen, you have to have faith in your product. As I have all ready said you have to do your home work on what the industry wants. One of the major problems authors have today is writing a great query letter or book proposal. They write their queries, send them into publishers and in return they get back a polite sorry but no thanks your project want fit our current project list. So what their saying is you need to go back to the drawing board and tweak your query letter, because it did not get the publishers attention. All my books have been contracted through traditional publishers. When I start pitching my manuscript I get numerous no thank you messages. When they start pouring in that tells me I need to step back and rewrite my query letter because the one I am using is not working. Have faith in yourself, your work and be flexible and good things will happen. You need to be persistent, make changes and know that there is a publisher out there that will like your idea.
Reviews/Test Your Work– It is so important that you test your product with other people, meaning let people you trust read your manuscript and ask them for their honest opinion. If they find things wrong with it, make changes. Do not take ownership of your creation to the point you have blinded yourself from reality. We all need other people to review our manuscripts to give us feed back on what they got out of it. When you release your work to the public you want it to be perfect, because once you release it you can’t take it back. You want it to be able to stand on its own two feet, because if it is not perfect your readers will be the first to tell you so. Only the reviewers of your manuscript can tell you if you manage to catch their attention in the area of emotion, feelings, anticipation and if your detail description in the manuscript was on the mark.
Thick Skin– Alright having a thick skin as the old saying goes is where most authors have the hardest time. We all hate denial, we hate when someone tears up our work that we spent so many countless hours putting together. It’s a natural reaction, you have put all you have into something just to be told it’s substandard. Listen there are many different types of people out there in this business. There is no way your going to please all of them, especially in the publishing industry. You must prepare yourself to be critiqued. What is the old saying; expect the worst, hope for the best. There are so many different types of personalities out there in the industry and they all have different opinions on how something should be written. Take their opinion into consideration, but never let it get you down. Build confidence in your work and use the negative to make you stronger.
Public Relations Work– My publicist said this is the area he has the most trouble in when it comes to his authors. I will start off by saying; PR work is the foundation in which your career as successful author will gets started. Readers buy books not by the content inside, but rather by genre and recognizing the name of the author on the cover. Readers want a proven product. They buy books from authors whose names they have heard over and over again. Good PR work will define your success as an author, which equals book sales. If you’re shy get over it. You have to be willing to talk to the public about your book. Each time you participate in a PR related event you are getting your name out to the public. Book signings are tough if you have not laid down a good foundation of PR work prior to getting to that point.