Writing a Book For the First Time
I’ve been kicking an idea for a book around for a while; and this year seemed the perfect opportunity to do something about it. It’s a brilliant ‘job’ and I am loving it, although I soon learned (and am still learning) that I needed a whole new wardrobe of ‘hats’.
But learning new skills is something I like to do because I am generally too mean to pay other people to do things that I, in theory could do myself. But oh boy, is there a lot to learn about getting a book onto the shelves!
So far I have needed to study…….
- Blogging. Practicing simply getting words down (and read). Meant learning about code, HTML, CSS, PHP, FTP content management and the behemoth of wordpress.
- ‘How to write‘, it’s a long time since I was at school! Just getting to grips with proper presentation of words, grammar and splelling etc. Still making lots of mistakes.
- What they call ‘engaging content’, writing to capture peoples attention in todays world where we are constantly bombarded with words, is difficult.
- Copywriting (and I had to learn about copyright!) means learning how to capture peoples attention. Headlines, titles and tag lines REALLY matter, get it wrong and you are destined for obscurity in todays ‘keyword’ obsessed, search engined world.
- Learning about presentation, WORD is a HUGE program with lots of difficult, dark corners where things like TOC lists live. Modifying styles to look pretty and the perils of handling large documents.
- Data management, fear of losing 20,000 words with a single click is enough to keep you awake at night, not to mention coming home to find the laptop nicked! Autosave and backups to the cloud every few minutes means that the laptop could go from under your very nose and you would be cool. As long as the servers in Canada have not melted etc……
- Working with black and white images, learning about ‘gain’ and ‘colour filters’, ‘layers’ and ‘bleed’ and lots of stuff about dots…….
- Then comes editing, copyediting, production editing, proofreading and reading manuscripts backwards or out loud to avoid, “not seeing the wood for the trees”.
- Publishing. Jeeze, higher walls than Alcatraz! You can’t get a publisher unless you have an agent and you can’t get an agent unless you have one in the family and even then…..
- And then you have self-publishing and what a minefield that is, full of ‘helpful’
- Sales of Kindles etc mean that the age of the eBook has to be taken seriously too, but what file format to use? AZW (kindle), DOC/DOCX, TXT, HTML, OPF, TR2/3, FB2, XML,ARG, DTB, CHM, PDF, PS, DJVU, LIT, PDB, DNL… ok, I think I’ll stop now as my brain hurts
- Marketing. No point in writing a book if you can’t sell it. Learning what works and what doesn’t to sell books, is a huge topic, full of very clever and subtle tweaks to capture attention. It’s no good writing what you think people need to read, you have to write what they want to read. Huge difference, massive even.
There’s also that unshakable feeling that you really should stop wasting time daydreaming about earning a living electronically and get a ‘proper job’. This feeling goes against how we ‘ordinary’ people were brung up and is never spoken about by others, although often ever so slightly implied.
And then there is the f e a r. The fear that the end result will be crap and that no one will want to read what you have invested so much time and effort on. The fear of being arrogant, ‘who am I to assume that I have anything worthy to say?’ kind of thing. The fear of ridicule, the humiliation of putting yourself ‘out there’. But then there is also the fear of that ‘proper job’ to spur you on ;-).
But if there is one thing I’ve learned about this whole process; it’s all too easy to give up. Fortunately thick skin and persistence have accounted for more entrepreneurial successes than any other method I’ve read about. I can be persistent, I can do the late hours. Whether I have any talent, is fortunately decided by others, thank God.
Oh and anyway, it’s way too cold to be working outside in the winter here……….