I have been asked to reflect on my writing processes and methods as an author. While reflecting on my writing, I realize that my writing has been exciting, scary and a painful process all at the same time. I begin with painful because when I was in school, I got an “F” on my paper in 5th grade for my handwriting and not my ideas. I believe that was my first serious critique of my writing. As much as I loved to read and was a good reader, I lost confidence in my writing and it began there. In college, I had problems with organizing my writing in a systematic format. I received a failing grade on my first freshman English paper. This was scary because I needed English to get my degree. Thankfully, I went to a small liberal arts school with nuns and priests who gladly assisted me to develop my writing skills. My junior year in college, I started working part-time for a law firm in their library and it was there that my library career began. I loved it but still had no desire to write a book even after 30 years in libraries. While in graduate school, I had my first taste of victory with my writing by my research professor. After so many years of feeling like a failure as a writer, she told me, “you write well enough to complete a dissertation.” I said, “me?” She replied, “yes you.” So, I did.
Fast forward to 2008, I published my first book of poetry. Who knew? Today, I have written 20 plus books of my own as well as coached and published the books of many others. What is my process?
The Conclusion. I start with the end in mind. Why am I writing the book? What do I want the reader to learn from my book? Why should a person read my book and what should be the take away or learning points? In essence, what is the message of my book.
The Contents. What do I want to include in the book so that the reader gets the message. With my non-fiction, it is clear, I want to include 30 devotionals about a certain subject. OR, with my fiction writing, I outline what scenes I want to include in the book and determine the path, twists and turns that the main and secondary characters will take to get to the destination.
The Cover. Does the cover represent the contents and the conclusion? I ask my team of advisors as well as post the covers to my database lists and social media to get the opinions of others. When I publish and coach other authors, I advise them about the book cover but encourage them to let their readers, followers, friends and family have input into the book’s cover. Why? If others like your book, they are more likely to purchase it and recommend others to purchase it.
The Cost. I know that you wonder why cost is the last thing that I think about, but it is. Why? Because if the book is well written with a message that connects and is appealing, people will buy it. Secondly, I compare the prices of books in the same genre, page length and topic area especially bestsellers to determine my cost. Most first time authors are concerned about the cost of the book, royalties and sales. It should be a concern but not the first concern when the book is not even finished or in some cases, started. If it is quality, interesting and in demand, people will buy it.
Finally, I encourage new authors and especially those writing memoirs and fiction to have an outline. An outline will be the frame work for the book similar to the foundation and beams necessary to build a house. I personally have trouble ending a book rather than starting, so an outline and an idea of how I want the book to end is critical for me. I personally call it knowing how to “land the plane.” Once you have the outline, you just fill in the contents or text under each outline heading and your rough draft of your book is finished. It is not perfect yet but at least, the rough draft is finished. For more information, visit http://www.bkroystonpublishing.com and to get started, got to http://bit.ly/roystonwriterspackage.