Just Do It - Writing a Book


I bring to you my ignorance about writing a book

Everyone has a story but not everyone wants to tell. There isn't a person I've talked to who doesn't have a unique story from a unique point of view. Although your story may seem humdrum to you, that experience can benefit others if not just flat-out entertaining. It's amazing the things that happen to us during our lifetime and it's a shame to lose it by not passing it on to family, friends, or even just strangers out there. It's your legacy and when you are gone, so is all the knowledge you carry about family, friends, and events.

The problem is how to get that story written down into something understandable, which brings me to my first point.

• Just Get it Out

You can write it, record it, share it with someone else, and have them write it; but just get it out. With computers and the multitude of applications, you have a wealth of options like electronic diaries and the like. But sometimes there nothing like an old-fashioned notebook and pen. I don't recommend writing it in sand or dirt. There are also lots of apps for smartphones or tablets that let you record and then translate what you have spoken into written words. With a few minutes each day, you can quickly record all you know and be amazed at how little it actually is. ;-)

• Organize into Chapters

This is where it starts to get difficult but don't get discouraged. Organize by people like Aunt Mabel or Grandpa Jelly. Organize by events like The Year Dad Cried, or just 1999. You can do it by month, by the situation, or almost anything. There's no wrong way - just organize it. Again, there are many computer applications that can help like Pages for the Apple platform, Word for Windows, and free applications like LibreOffice or OpenOffice. For those with no computer, just write a story on paper and put the pages together into groups or use file folders if available.

• Motivation

No one can help you with motivation and this is what separates you from your published book. Although friends and family can provide encouragement, if you really want to publish something, it takes a really strong motivation to carry through. The good news is double: you don't have to publish and you don't have to publish publicly. Web sites like blurb.com allow you to create and print almost any kind of book from fiction to picture or poem and all in between. But you don't have to publish at all. Remember, the important part is to get it in writing to share with family, friends, and future generations.

• Value

This kind of goes along with Motivation. It's hard to even start to write something if you feel there is no value to your story.

Something that has always fascinated me is the Yard Sale. In America, you won't go too far without spotting a YARD SALE sign somewhere. The whole concept of a Yard Sale is that someone has something they feel is trash and want to get rid of. But HEY, why throw it out when maybe someone will buy it. One person's trash is another person's treasure. And every so often, you find something of really great value.

It's the same with your story. You may not see any value in it at all. But there are literally millions of people out there who would see it as a great treasure; if only you were to take the chance to share it.

• Don't Give Up!

It's not over till it's over. Don't stop until the last page is complete. Then put it in a lockbox or store it in a safe place or give it as a gift to someone you love. Unless, of course, you want to actually publish it. In that case, the real work has yet to begin. You'll need to decide if you will self-publish or try to get a publisher to pick it up. In any case, be ready for a lot of work to edit, rewrite, edit, and then rewrite and edit more. In the end, get a really good professional editor to go over it $$. There are many websites that allow you to self-publish but check them out carefully and watch for any hidden costs or contracts. I leave it to you to search the Internet and do your homework. There are tons of articles on how to publish a book and I won't repeat that here.

My Story

I started out with all kinds of research on writing and publishing a book. In the end, I decided to go with CreateSpace.com to self-publish, partly because it seems cost-effective and because CreateSpace is an arm of Amazon. However, I carefully checked out probably at least five other options including the normal publishing route. I will mention that CreateSpace is now KDP - Kindle Direct Publishing, but they do both e and normal books too. https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

When I started, I figured it would take about 5 months to finish my book. I created a nice project schedule at AceProject.com showing how I could easily meet my schedule. After re-baselining the project about 6 times, I gave up the project schedule. The book never seemed happy with the way I was writing it and demanded change after change. Even after I thought it was perfect, I would read through it and feel incomplete. After a while, I began to realize the story seemed to have a life of its own and I gave in to letting it write itself.

Along the way, I picked up the Scrivener App which helped tremendously in organizing both my thoughts and the book. In the end, I used Microsoft Word to actually format it for print and Adobe Acrobat Writer to create the PDF file to submit to CreateSpace. Then the more expensive work began.

After completing the book, I read through it about 6 times, finding errors and making corrections each time. The seventh time I really thought I had nailed it... Until I gave it to a professional editor. She did the first couple of chapters at no cost to give me an idea of where I stood. When I received her edits, I almost cried. What I thought was near perfect was not even close. I was surprised at what I had missed. But she was right-on and I hired her to do the rest of it $$. It was also necessary to get ISBN numbers $$. Then there is the cover design - hey, it's the first thing a person sees and it should be unique and outstanding $$. Fortunately, my daughter is a top graphics artist (see her site at http://foxforhire.com) and she gave me a break on the price. :-) It's also important to design the interior part for industry compliance and for readability: more $$.

All in all, as a novice, it took me over 2,000 hours to research, write, and get to the editing phase. If you figure in my time at the low figure of $12/hr, and all the other costs, it comes out to about $30k. And remember, there's no guarantee it will sell a single copy. That's the marketing phase which is more personal labor, sweat, and tears... and of course $$.

In conclusion, self-publishing sites like KDP have a lot of great information on how to write your book plus very easy step-by-step publishing instructions. There are huge amounts of free tips and tricks to be found by searching for "how to be an author," or "how to write a book." Many applications are available to make it easy to write and publish.

Keep in mind it doesn't have to be perfect / Just do the best you can

© copyright 2021 h mark taylor

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