7 April 2014 - TIPS ON WRITING / PUBLISHING


TIPS ON WRITING / PUBLISHING

G'day folks,

Here is a guest post for writers on writing and publishing, courtesy of CHERIE ROE DIRKSEN.

Welcome, Cherie ...

  “You’re probably familiar with the saying, ‘everyone’s got a book in them’ but the real question is:  how do you start taking those first steps and begin furiously tapping away at your keyboard with zesty enthusiasm?

You Could Be Holding Your Book Within 6 Short Months!

You may be surprised to learn that it is not such a gargantuan and overwhelming task — with the proper guidance and motivation, you too can be the proud author of a spanking new publication.

In fact, it is an absolute thrill to write when your heart is sunk firm into the project.  Think of the final joy of holding your book in hand and getting to press your nose deep into the spine of those crisp, new pages of your hot-off-the-press manuscript.  

Heck, even I’m excited for you!

So what lies between you and that imminent caress of your books glaringly glossy cover?

Below you’ll find a list of the 8 most commonly asked questions I get about writing and publishing a book and some surprising answers:


Why Do You Want To Write a Book?

I write self-help books because I have a passion to help people and if writing about my life experiences and how I’ve overcome certain obstacles can help someone else — I am more than happy.

The writing process also helps me to put certain things into perspective on the chosen topic — i.e. writing about your experiences helps you to gain a certain amount of clarity or slant on what you have lived through.

There’s also  the fact that putting pen to paper (or, in most cases, fingers to keys) can be wholesomely therapeutic.

If there is one thing I can’t stress enough, it is to write about your experiences — what you actually know about…which brings me to ask this question:

What Experience Do You Have?

Readers are like bloodhounds and can out an author that doesn’t write from experience, wisdom and passion — there must be integrity in this process.

Even if you are writing fiction — imagination is a wonderful thing but putting structure to your fantasy requires that you know a thing or to about life and living, so get out there and soak up the vibes!

Do your research — there’s never been a better time to be a writer than in this magnificent technological age where Google provides so much information at the touch of a button.

For all you more ‘mature’ folks out there — do you remember when research meant going to the library or, even better, a trip to the state archives?  Boy, have times changed!

No matter what you write about, I feel your true motivation should always stem from the love of what you do and that you either have a message or a deep fervor for what you’re penning about.


Is Money Your Motivation?

Never write for the money.  I have got 2 books out now and I am only starting to make money from them (not enough, as of yet, to pay my bills — I do a lot of other things to keep myself afloat which is something you should think about before quitting your day job).

This is not to say that you can’t make money from writing, just that it is not a very glamorous career.  It is a lot of hard work, promotion and dedication.

I’m sure there are a trickle of overnight success stories but they are few and far between.  Most authors need to have a day or part-time job, guest write for other sites to get their name and message out there and keep up daily appearances on social networking sites to sustain momentum and remind people that they are still there.

This is not a path for the lazy or faint-of-heart.  You’ve got to believe in yourself and believe in what you do — inevitably that’s all that counts and if you only sell 1 book in your career, that should bring a smile to your face.

I think to date, I have distributed and sold just over 200 books.

It’s not nearly enough to make me a best-seller (believe it or not, having a ‘best-seller’ in South Africa apparently only requires the sale of 2000 copies due to the market now being swamped with books in this wonderful new digital age of self-publishing — but, as you can see, even at this rather low rate, I’m still a far cry away from attaining the best-seller status).

However, I’m a die-hard and ever the optimist — I’m going to keep on getting my book out there if it kills me (well, not really but the statement does add to the dramatic effect!).

Never give up on a dream!


What Can You Gain From Other Writers/Bloggers?

Learning from others beats going it alone.  There is a massive writing community out there so go be a social cyber-butterfly!

There is a guy called Jeff Goins who blogs about his writing career — I would go and study his page because he is very informative and you can learn a hell of a lot from him: goinswriter.com.

Which brings me to the next thing.  If you truly want to write, start out with a blog — that is how you will build your readership who will later want to buy your book.

Your site is your livelihood in most writers cases.

Do some research on this by yourself and you will see that a lot of people go the blogging route in order to build a reputation and a subscription list of potential readers (I find this site extremely helpful:  

www.copyblogger.com— they will help you to get a successful website/blog going).

 With regards to getting started with writing, the story either comes or it doesn’t — i.e. you will know when a story hits you, I find you can’t force something that is not there or people will pick up on that (remember those bloodhounds are on your tail!).

  So, like I said before, go out into the world and mingle with people, have adventures and live, that way you’ll have loads of inspiration to write.

How Much Writing a Day Should I Do?

When you find something that you do want to write about, dedicate at least 2 hours a day to writing.

Without a regular schedule your book will be left on the back-burner, so stick to a writing regime.  I did this with my first book — 2hrs a day, 5 days a week and finished my book within about 5 months.

The second book was a compilation of all my articles that I blogged about, so blogging has its rewards!


How Long Should My Book Be?

How long is a piece of string?  As long as it has to be, I suppose.

Some people write shorter books or short stories and some people write trilogies — so that’s up to you.  My books have been between 180 and 220 pages (roughly 50 000 — 60 000 words).

How Do I Publish My Book?

Finally and best of all, publishing your book is super easy!

With sites like ‘Createspace‘ (Amazon’s sister site for self-published authors) and another really great site called Lulu.com (and many more) you can do it all yourself at no cost.

Yes, you read right — it’s FREE!

They provide you with templates and most of them even allocate the ISBN number for you (that bar-code at the back of a book which is a unique identifying number) and all you do is upload it once your book is finished and they take care of the rest.

You can even publish eBooks (or Kindle if you’re going through Amazon) gratis through these sites.

They even offer services like editing your book/cover design, formatting, etc for a small fee.

They are a print-on-demand service, so once your book is uploaded, you can start selling straight away to the entire globe!

There are absolutely no hidden costs (at the printing of this article, at least) and you get royalties on your book.  However, most of these sites will only pay you out on a quarterly basis or when you have reached $100 threshold.

What Are Printing Costs If You Want To Do It Yourself?

If you do want a batch of your own books, then I have just got my second book printed (November 2013) by a local company (I’m from South Africa, for those who don’t know) that charged me around R4 500 (roughly $450) for 100 books.  That included the ISBN number.

So that way, there is an outlay but I tried to presell copies before I got it printed and managed to cover more than half of the cost.


Write Your Book Because It’s Your Passion And You Will Be Rewarded

Write because you love it and not because of the green stuff — that way you won’t be disappointed and if you do make the best-seller list, then that is just an awesome bonus!!!

I hope this helps you to start your writing career.  There is a ton of information out there on the net.  Not one day goes by when I haven’t read at least 2 articles about my trade, so be informed and you’ll do well.

Good luck!”


Clancy's comment: Thanks, Cherie. A lot of good advice here.



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