There is a romantic idea of the author (which usually stems from films), this has him or her stooped over a typewriter upon a desk in a bay window, the view is normally of the ocean or a city and they are drinking endless cups of coffee whilst chain-smoking at the same time. Anyone who has actually written a book (or is in the process of doing so) will understand that the reality is different from this stereotype, coffee yes, but not so many people smoke these days.
One thing that these films and preconceptions miss is the amount of planning which will go into the successful completion of a manuscript, they will show a writer typing like a thing possessed and in the process creating pages of type effortlessly. What these scenes don’t show you is the hours of planning that will have gone into the structure of the book and the process of actually being able to write it.
So what will you need to consider whilst you’re about to write that best seller?
The first thing and one that can get overlooked is actually being passionate and committed enough to finish what you’re about to start (just think how many uncompleted novels lie dormant in PC hard drives around the globe). Having a great idea for a story is helpful of course but understanding that a great novel will take longer than a weekend to produce is invaluable.
So you think you’re committed and passionate? Keep going with that train of thought! When it comes to the writing of your book you need to be realistic about your timescales, if you take an average page length for a novel of being 250 pages or 80,000 words then you should break it down into how much you know is achievable on a weekly basis.
This is where honesty will pay dividends, most writers in the beginning will think to themselves that they’ll be able to write for many hours each and every day or week, it’s a bit like joining the gym, you start off with good intentions and then overdo it in the beginning, this ends up turning you off and your gym membership gets cancelled.
Writing a book is similar in that you need to set realistic goals for your time and commitment, a working single parent may have less free time to write than that of a retiree, be honest about how much time you will commit to writing each week and stick to it, ask yourself if the time you dedicate is going to feel like a chore in six months.
Of course the other way to look at it is to make a commitment to complete a certain number of pages on each day that you write, you could aim for one page (which is about 330 words) per day or even two, this helps you to have a clear goal and enables you to establish a deadline for when you’ll finish your book (one page every day for five days a week will mean a 250 page book would take you 50 weeks to complete).
Once you know how long you’ll have to write you need to know where you’re going to write.
Having a space which is free from distractions as an author is an absolute must, in an ideal world everyone has an office with sound proof walls and an endless coffee supply to keep you going but in reality your office may just have to be the kitchen table. In fairness it really doesn’t matter too much how luxurious your surroundings are (after all, JK Rowling wrote some of her books in a café and she did okay). But where ever your chosen spot is you should ensure that you have everything that you need to write without stopping (pc, pens, paper, pencils etc.), make sure you switch off your cell phone, Facebook, Twitter and email, these side distractions can suck so much time and hamper your train of thought.
If you share a house with family, loved ones or friends make them aware of what you’re doing, writing a book is easier when people stop interrupting you, you don’t need to be harsh (or swear a lot) but if they know that at certain times of the day and week you are writing they can leave you to it.
So now that you have a time, a goal of pages or words each day, a place to write and that people know to leave you alone you can now start upon the plan for your book.
Prior to actually writing your manuscript this will be the most important document for a writer, your plan or guidelines for the manuscript will cover the start, middle and ending of the book, your characters, location, themes, era, relationships between characters, path of the story, dates and all of the relevant detail which will ensure that your work does not contradict itself.
Crafting the plan/outline for your story can take several weeks or even months, it’s not something that should be rushed and will of course take even longer if your story includes factual situations, people or is a work of non-fiction. The more effort you place in the research and planning of your work the better and easier it will be to actually write the book itself.
These stages may seem a little cumbersome to some would-be writers but they hold the key to not only a successful book but also an enjoyable experience for the writer too, your plan will help ensure that not only you complete you book but that it is an excellent read too.
Your journey as a writer can be one of the most amazing but at the same time demanding of paths to follow, starting the first chapter of a book with the very best of intentions is as far as a great many will get, you have to wonder just how many award-winning novels never left the mind of the author.
So what keeps those who successfully complete a book going? Are they superhuman or have IQs which far outweigh that of your own? The likelihood is that they’re just the same as you, what keeps them going is their belief in what they’re doing and a passion for their craft.
Having passion for anything in life will normally yield great results, being passionate tends to bring about a determination to complete your task and in itself lead to greater motivation. Now you will of course have days when your creative flow may be lacking, but those who are successful don’t see this as a reason to give up, any challenge is simply an opportunity to grow in another direction.
Being in a position where you are struggling to write the next chapter may be the ideal opportunity to research other writers or review and edit what you have already written. Researching other writers may sound a little counter intuitive but it can really help, some of the best writers in the world are avid readers themselves, reading the work of an expert does give inspiration.
You should also consider just how much you are trying to achieve and in what timescale, if following one of the many ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes by knocking out a best-selling eBook in a week you are going to find the task somewhat draining. If at the same time you are holding down a fulltime job then it’s easy to put off writing your allocated 2000 words every night, writing in large volumes can be done (and there are lots of copywriters who make a great job of it too), but it does need a great deal of focus and motivation.
For the majority of authors who write in their spare time they do so to a reasonable schedule, being realistic about the amount of time you can honestly commit to your book will improve your chances of successfully completing it by 80%. The most common mistake that new writers commit is in over estimating how much they think they can write on a daily basis, it is better to commit to 300 words a day and keep to it than 900 and not.
The key is in setting yourself a writing schedule that you’ll actually keep to, if you can only write (with your full dedicated attention that is) one day a week the commit to that, if it’s every day then great. Also ensure that you have a place to write which is free of any distractions, turn off your cell phone and leave the social networks alone, if you need to research the internet do it and then close your browser down.
A great novel is within you, just ensure you take the time to set it free.
These early versions had names that were simply based on numbers and ran up to thirteen versions of the software, however in 2003 Adobe released their Create Suite (CS) and made the product more commercially available. From here we saw the launch of more user friendly tools and capabilities with each new product release, then in 2013 CreateCloud was launched which gave designers access to the whole Adobe software suite for one monthly charge, along with great updates, file sharing, storage, fonts and a whole host of apps for iPad/iPhone as well as several for Android.
Historically it is clear that Adobe’s suite of products will always keep evolving and that even the way in which we use their products will change with time. Computers, tablets and even cellphones alter very quickly and Adobe are very good in keeping us in a position where we can use the product on multiple devices, again, this is another reason why so many people within design and the creative fields choose Adobe.
For ourselves in the book design industry it’s Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop that ensure we can create book covers which work for both printed and digital alike, they also have a seamless way of working together which leads to using artwork within multiple systems, giving the greatest artistic freedom.
Along with this creative freedom there is another important fact, and that is that it has become the industry standard. For any designer it is vital that your work can be used by others without the need for any conversion (which usually leads to some form of change to your design), keeping your work flow within the same systems ensures a smooth process and outcome which all parties are happy with.
However, it has to be said that with many companies which reach a near saturation point of the potential customer base, you have to hope that they don’t become complacent and forget about innovation too. Most designers will keep using their products as long as the industry has a need for them and that a competitor doesn’t out play them either.
When working with some authors you’ll find that their choice of publisher will vary from what may feel like the established (or routine) print on demand services, this to some degree is bought about by the fact that Amazon and their Createspace publishing wing have such a prominent position within the industry.
From the perspective of the author the only focus will be upon the return on investment, weighing up the positive and negative points of each service and going for what they feel is the better option. On one hand the ease of use and cost effectiveness with Createspace attracts many but its restriction to Amazon alone turns some towards the likes of Ingram Spark, you’re still in with Amazon but your book’s distribution is then opened up to more avenues of sale.
You’ll also find that when you step away from the giants within the print on demand world you’ll pay to get your book published, you may even be hit with fees if there are any errors with your publication too.
However, from a design perspective there are differences and restrictions when working with the various publishers that an author may not consider, color models which you can use within the design will alter along with variations on paper type and even margins & bleed sizes.
Most of the printing services will use templates in which they’ll want the artwork and typeface to sit, the design gets created as a PDF within this template and then uploaded to their website ready to be used with the author’s book. The bigger publishers usually have a template generator where you can input the details of the cover and then download as a PDF, PNG or in some cases even an InDesign file (which is incredibly useful).
These templates become the base layer for each design that the artist works upon (for printed books that is), where the publisher is smaller and doesn’t use a template you’ll find that InDesign works well in creating a base layer to work upon (Photoshop does the same however you’ll need to be precise whilst setting up the layout and using guidelines).
Color models are the other element that a designer will need to check whilst working with a publisher, for the majority of printing services the most common option will be a straight forward use of CMYK, but not all printers are the same, with some you may even find restrictions with ink levels (Ingram Spark and Lightning Source reduce theirs to 240% which can make colors seem a little flat). On the flip side, Createspace allow the designer to create a cover in RGB, this is a larger color model and as such lends itself well to more vivid colors.
Most publishers will want the design as a print ready PDF which is flattened, has fonts embedded and is a one piece design with the back page on the left leading into the spine and then front page with bleed areas on all four sides. There are exceptions to this though, Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing wing ask for book cover designs to be just the front and back pages, they then create the spine for the author (which can lead to artwork being covered and in some cases a mismatch of type from front to spine).
But whichever self-publishing service you choose the key is in doing your research and weighing up what you actually need for the book itself, whether you’re going for a specific market place as a seasoned professional author or just dipping your toe in with your very first eBook, whatever the situation there is a service to suit your needs.
Writing a great story is one thing but getting it ready for publication is another thing all together, with the majority of authors writing in Word it can be a very frustrating time when it comes to the editing stages of your book. For lots of indie authors they will work away at this process themselves, taking many hours and also leading to a frustrating experience that makes you question what it is you've started.
So why on earth would you put yourself through this major headache? Well, for some it will be a budgetary constraint and for others it's the need to micro-manage every aspect of the work itself, however, there are some great alternatives to struggling away at it yourself.
Research is now easy to do and with a quick search through the forums and many online directories you'll see countless companies who offer editing services to authors (not to mention the many freelancing sites), there are people who work with some of the biggest authors offering their services to the indie author as well, so here we have a list of ten editors that you may want to consider whilst getting your book ready for publication.
Having been in operation since 1997 Scribendi is one of the biggest online editing services to date (processing more than 300,000 orders). They offer over 250 separate editors covering virtually every topic and genre imaginable, along with a full editing service they also proof read manuscripts and give many other options for both business and non-fiction.
NY Book Editors, are a group of editors who have worked with the four big hitters of the publishing world, they’ve edited some of the most popular and well recognized books and many well known authors too, they also offer critiques of your work, proposal edits, query letter edits, copy editing and ghostwriting services for a complete editing service.
Edit 911 have a highly trained team of editors on hand who are also writers, they started back in 1999 and have some of the most knowledgeable people available to help authors. They offer editing for fiction, nonfiction, essays, academic, business, help with the publication process and with query letters etc.
Book Editing Associates are a collection of editors, publishing consultants and other experts within the publishing world, they offer copy editing, ghostwriting, query letters and proofreading as well.
Manuscript Critique is a service run by the editor Michael Garrett (who was Stephen Kings first editor), he offers editing services along with proofreading and honest editorial feedback to each author he works with.
Winning edits are a group of editors & writers who specialize in the growth of authors through their books, with a focus in business and productivity they offer copy editing and developmental expertise for works of non-fiction.
First Editing were first established back in 1994 and have worked on over 200,000 documents, they offer editing, proofreading and many other services aimed at all types of authors, genres and written word documents.
Novel Gazing are full editors along with their offering of a proofreading service too, they can also create a synopsis and optimize your work for use as an eBook. Their three editors have close to thirty years-experience between them all.
Prowriting aid is a great free online editing service which alerts the author to potential issues with their work, it can help with the readability of your manuscript and check for hidden & passive verbs, the over use of adverbs or repetitive structure, words or phrases and it can also remove clichés and redundancies. However, it will not edit the creative value of the book (so you will still need a human to take care of this aspect for you).
Edit my novel is a business which is run by Bestselling author and book editor Cara Lockwood, She offers copy editing, copy-proofing, and developmental editing services designed to get the best from your work and look great when published.
But this is now something that we’re seeing more and more writers beginning to understand and take seriously, launching a book is a long term process which is almost akin to launching a business or product (although no author will ever consider their work just a mere product, and rightly so).
So for those of you who are in the last stages of writing or editing their books (or even halfway through), you should now be considering the promotional plan you’ll use to help its launch and ongoing long term advertising.
The launch and publication of your book should be considered (if possible) from the very moment you start writing it, this can be done easily at first with the use of social media and moving on to your own website. Having your own site shouldn’t be off putting and it shouldn’t also soak up your entire life at the same time (if you run a website you know that it can be incredibly time consuming). Your own website gives you a great platform to start from and one which you can build that all important mailing list from.
When using social media, the key is not to become a spammer, we use both Facebook and Twitter and have found that it can become quite tiresome, the sheer volume of authors who excessively self-promote (this can be a very quick way to lose followers). You can of course use automated systems to update and manage this for you, but even so, keep it to several updates per day (not several every five minutes).
This leads us to your social media home page too, how does it look? Does it look professional, would a reader assume you are an author who takes their work seriously? Using a banner which compliments and gives the best first impression is priceless, it’s the same for each and every ‘touch-point’ you have with the reader.
As you get closer to the launch of your book you’ll want to get more details out to your readers, if you have collected a mail-out list from your own website then you can send out details and even the first chapter to them. Again, ensure that your graphics and posters (digital ones) look great and represent you well.
The competition has never been as great as it is now for any author (with about 1250 indie/self-published books coming out every day), but with planning and focus you can make your book a success.
Book cover designers.