Blogging

Steps to become a first-time author

I wanted to write on a different interesting topic that I feel important not only to the blogging community but also to the general reader.

We have a very thriving blogging community and many of us might be having ambitions to publish some of their best content in the form of a book.

This blog post attempts to explain the various nuances behind this process. I earnestly wish this will be useful to you, at least to have an overall understanding of the entire process.

I attended a “Book Writing Masterclass” by Dr. Vineet Gera, Best Selling Author & Book Writing Coach and Founder- Gurucool Publishing yesterday evening.

The masterclass was for first time authors who want to know more above the processes involving in conceptualizing a book, writing it, publishing it and promoting/marketing it.

Lot of useful information was shared during the session. I would like to share some information for the benefit of everyone, particularly to those who are keen on becoming a first-time author.

First, the session started with these common questions :

  1. It is possible to complete a book in 45 hours? (if required) – Provided you have the right content and ready to put the required effort, it was said that it is possible. The moment we start to think it is impossible, we attribute it to technical reasons, saying technically it is not possible!
  2. Writing and selling a book is not the actual business. It is important to have a business model behind the book – how we use the subject matter of the book to promote the book is the main thing!
  3. Your knowledge is the secondary thing. Are you getting highlighted among the crowd or not is the main thing. 
  4. In order to assert your position as a subject matter, becoming an author is essential. Being an author is the important proof that one has authority on the subject.

Common difficulties in publishing a book:

  1. `Publishers rarely welcome a first time author. The first question they ask is: “How many book you have written earlier?
  2. Few courteous publishers may ask us to sit for some time but you will not expect any favorable response.
  3. Common complaint is page count of the book is less. We expect the page count to be 240 but it is only 160!

Few reasons attributed/barriers to not writing a book:

  1. Thinking that I will have to make a history, if I write a book. Otherwise it’s not worth the effort.
  2. The book I write will be no less than 500 pages.
  3. The mindset that my work will be free of errors.
  4. My command in language is not good – I am prone to spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  5. My work will be of complete originality – I will not attribute any references to my book.
  6. People will change themselves on reading my book. The attitude that I will be the change maker!

Common myths about writing a book

  1. I must be a good writer – No, that is not required. You just need to be a writer. You just need to connect to the audience. The language should be simple and conversational style. That’s all!
  2. Who am I to write the book? I am not an expert.
  3. I must have a publisher.
  4. Writing and publishing a very expensive.
  5. I do not have enough content.
  6. I do not have enough time.

Reasons for writing a book:

  1. Share your ideas with the world. All of us have different perspectives.
  2. Your perceptions have a unique idea. There may be 10000 perspectives but what/where is your perspective? Books ensure your perspective is reached to the target audience.
  3. Your presence will be felt even if you are not there.
  4. Books are all-time friends.
  5. If you give your book, the other person knows a lot more about you than through any other medium.
  6. After you write a book you will be treated as expert, the privilege you will not get unless you write one.
  7. It is the best business card – Visiting card, self-brochures etc. has an expiry period. But books have a long shelf life. – It occupies the book shelf. It has the complete information about you and your work.
  8. Book is your playground.
  9. Book is a passive source of income. It’s a one-time investment capable of providing income for prolonged time period.
  10. A book is an advertisement for an advertisement!

Steps in book writing process:

  1. Writing – Self.
  2. Publishing – Can be done by self / Third-Party.
  3. Promoting – Can be done by self / Third-Party.

Story of MRP:

  1. If you use the books just for giving as a gift or a marketing tool – keep the MRP high. In that way, the value of gift increases. You also have the option sell the book at a discount in the market.
  2. The value of information that is provided in the book determines its cost.
  3. For traditional publishing, the publisher determines the prices, for self-publishing, you determine the price.
  4. MRP is usually the cost of doing the photo copy of the material though there are exceptions as mentioned above.

Some common statistics:

  1. Standard page count of the book can be 125-200 pages.
  2. 30000 words = 170 pages of print.
  3. Suggested word count of a book – minimum 30000 words.

Some tips for writing non-fiction self-help books:

  1. Select at least ten main topics.
  2. Select five sub topics, if required.
  3. Have FAQs – Frequently asked questions – Answers to them will be the content of the book. Once content is done, the FAQ can be deleted.
  4. Have some should be asked questions to interest the reader to have some basic information about the subject matter.
  5. Detailed answer for all the questions should come to a minimum to 30000 words.
  6. It is better to choose the title at the beginning itself to have a better focus while writing the content.
  7. Book title should be used as the name of the training or business title. How you brand yourself matters!
  8. There is no harm in taking references because it’s your perspective is all that matters.

Some tips for writing fiction books:

  1. It is better to decide the title later since the plot and story is likely to undergo variation.
  2. It is a more creative process.
  3. You need to develop a one page plot of the story.
  4. The characterization must be written so to be visually perceived by the reader.
  5. It involves more work if you spend less time in organizing the story.

Now let’s discuss the various modes of publishing / distribution:

Traditional Distribution (Publishing):

  1. All costs are borne by the publisher. The author just need to give the manuscript, even if is handwritten.
  2. No transparency between the author and the publisher.
  3. Royalty is very less – It’s only 7 to 15%. Till date, there is no mechanism to track the number of copies sold by a publisher. The writer doesn’t get the royalty properly!
  4. The author has no control on the cover design, paper quality and Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
  5. It is a long process involving multiple steps.
  6. It is very difficult for the first time author to convince the publisher.
  7. Author has no control over the quantity of books sold.
  8. If the payment to the author is more than 20000 INR, TDS is deducted. Thus the amount that comes to hand is nothing but peanuts for the efforts spent.
  9. The Publisher owns the copyright.

Self-Distribution (Publishing):

  1. There is 100% transparency because the author has full control.
  2. Full royalty to the author because there is no middlemen involved.
  3. The cover design, paper quality, MRP are all under the control of the author.
  4. The printing cycle is relatively very short.
  5. The author can keep track of sales because printing of copies is under control.
  6. The author owns the copyright of the book.

Some means of funding the book:

  1. If the perspective of the audience and the perspective of your advertiser is the same, you will get the advertisement easily.
  2. Giving advertisement to another business through your book by featuring their profiles – the other business entity pay a price… it’s a win and win for both.
  3. Advance Sale – Targeting companies to sell bulk copies of your books by featuring advertisements free of cost.

Some important general tips:

  1. Use google audio typing and dictate to it for speed if you are in a position to dictate the content to your computer. Use Microsoft Word to format the content. That way you will save a lot of time.
  2. Do not have too much image content in the book because that will increase printing costs. It is important that the image content fits in the page.
  3. Systematic approach is very important for writing good content.
  4. Celebrity status is always crafted it is not awarded it is not given. You have to earn it!
  5. Your google search content and image search matters a lot. So it is important to focus on that.
  6. Your social media presence – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Email marketing etc. matters a lot. It is very important to focus on that as well.
  7. Do content recycling – Split the book into chapters and keep the individual chapter name as the name of the eBook. Cater to Social media by circulating these material to make your presence felt.
  8. Use email marketing to market your book by doing webinar, seminars etc. on the book’s subject matter.
  9. If you want to make your presence felt in the online market, choose Amazon because Amazon has 70% market of all the books sold in the world. Amazon also provides the option Amazon fulfilled through with Amazon packs and store 100 books. Orders done and payment processed every Wednesday. Amazon takes care of packaging.

Summary:

                Thus, it can be noted that writing a book per se is not a very difficult talk as it might have seemed before reading this blog post. All we need is the intent and zeal to proceed with the effort. I am sure the effort itself will be the reward in this endeavor.

I do fervently hope this post will inspire your ambition to become a first time author! I am sure if you hit the first milestone, there is no stopping!