The idea of publishing a book came when my boss gave me an article to read. It was about a dying banker, who in his last days, found some meaning in life when he published a memoir of his years of knowledge and wisdom in a book. The banker’s inspiring story got the attention of my boss, a renowned cardiologist, who is seriously contemplating writing a book. Time and again, he has stood against the unscrupulous medical practices rampant in our country. He feels, as I do, that writing out the rant is therapeutic. Besides, he has years of substantial experience and expertise in the field of medical sciences, to his credit.
I, having received the inspiration and the encouragement, went about compiling and publishing a book of poetry online. Writing a novel or publishing a work of non-fiction is quite different and each has its own challenges. After having gone through the various stages, I’ve put together a simple stepwise process for those embarking on the journey of writing their first ever book.
Having an idea
First and foremost, we need to have an idea which we are really passionate about. If we are not passionate, we are not ready yet. This is even more true for those pursuing non-fiction writing.
Outlining and structuring
If idea is the stepping stone, the outline or the layout is one of the first hurdles to cross. Once the outline is complete, we should consider laying the book in order - what should come first, what should fit in the middle, the climax and so on. This needs to be done in such a way so as to keep the readers continuously engrossed.
Deciding on the title of the book and the headings of the chapters and filing them separately, helps in organizing. If you are planning to have 20 chapters – make 20 separate files and write the headings on each of them. Keep making notes on the relevant files whenever something comes to mind. This will help when you are actually writing the book.
Writing a book is a mammoth task and we need to arm ourselves with the right kind of writing tools and of course a professional-writer attitude. A note book, both on and offline, is a must and so is the research work. We must be sure of the facts we are writing about. The research materials should be correct and proven.
I, personally, would prefer the software version to organize my book, rather than a pen and paper mode. Adding files, editing, deleting, rearranging, displaying the word counts, tracking my progress, re ordering chapters, automatic numbering of pages – all these get easier with the help of the various applications and software available today .
Deadline and target
Writers, in my opinion, should create a deadline or else there are chances of being diffused and stretched out. This might dilute the motivation of the writer. Aiming for a page or two a day is a great way to start. Having a goal buddy who listens to what you have written, and makes sure that you pursue your target, will not only keep you on your feet but also will get you into the habit of writing regularly.
The structure, the layout and the outline are important, but content is the king. So, next we need to complete the task of filling in the outline with the right kind of content. That becomes easier if we have a cognitive understanding of what we want to write. Understanding of the thought leads to clarity of expression. Begin by expounding on each chapter. Think of it as writing many small articles that will be compiled to create a full-length book.
Another important thing is the flow and the momentum. The rhythm and the flow should be individualistic. You will be subsequently recognized for the distinctive style that you succeed to create.
A good introduction is a great sales tool. We must persuade the readers with an interesting overview. It should be short, crisp and engaging. Connecting to the readers is most important thing that a writer should aim at all through the book.
Once you are done with the content, the dedication, table of contents and the credits seem very simple. Just a note - you can customize the dedication as per the theme of the book. For example, if it is a humorous book, try to make the dedication funny and so on.
Proofreading is a major task before publishing. We should keep reading the chapters aloud and go along correcting the errors. Trust me, you will come across many more errors and edits than you can imagine! Proofreading becomes very important since it polishes the end product in terms of the finesse and style. We can hire a professional proof reader also, who would critique the spelling, syntax, punctuation, sentence pattern, poise and every little thing technical.
Getting an online publisher is not a difficult task and we can easily publish our book on Amazon, Lulu or with other online publishing houses. Self-publishing can be a smart choice. It's cost-effective, relatively fast, pays royalties, and lets you have control over the publishing process and rights. Good online publishing houses even provide you with the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) which is a unique code for identifying the book.
However, getting to an offline publisher takes more than that. Creating a book that turns heads and grabs eyeballs is not easy. If you are not famous, it requires a lot of effort to promote your work. The good publishing houses are expensive, but they get you some results for the hard work that you have put in over the months. You need to do little bit of research work about the publisher before choosing the right one. The author contract should be clear and easy to understand. There are several legal things that go into this and if you are not sure hire a lawyer.
The book covers are also very important. Even though we should not judge a book by its cover, we do sometimes get influenced into buying a book by the appealing front and back covers. So, don’t hesitate to suggest to the publishers and discuss with them about the kind of buyers you are aiming at.
Take lots of notes on all the information you find. These will come in handy when you get ready to start writing your book.
Make it a full time job. Do not engage yourself in other activities since this is time consuming and too many things might dilute the zeal.
Make a goal buddy who will not be swayed by your whims during the period
Lastly, it’s not easy to write a book, but if you are committed enough and have perseverance, you will end up writing a book that you have always wanted to write, and that others will want to read as well.