About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

Posts tagged ‘authors’

Be An Author Extract – Getting Started, The First Idea

Last week I introduced you to the contributors to my new book Be An Author. So now it’s time to start sharing some of the book with you. This section is from the chapter on Getting Started:

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow”
– Johann Wolfgang Goethe

For many people the idea of writing a book is just that – an idea. You feel you have something to say, and maybe you’ve enjoyed writing some pieces before. But the big one is proving elusive. Maybe you know you want to write a novel, but what genre? Perhaps you are keen on self-help books but worried that everything you know has been said before. So how do you get off the starting block? Let’s turn to our contributing authors to find out how it was for them.

“Where did you first get the idea to write a book?”

Simon : The idea is everything. Mine came when I was talking to a detective about the similarities between the role of journalist and cop – in essence, ask the right questions, read the reactions, get to the hidden truth. From that, came the idea of a TV reporter who covers crimes, and gets so involved in the cases, he ends up helping to solve them.
Wendy : Through working as a life coach and wanting to have a product for clients to take home.
Linda : I’d been thinking about a book to complement the Hysterectomy Association website for some time and it was really the title that came first, 101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy – after I got that it took me another two years to actually write it.
Sallyann : I was asked to write booklets as a copywriter, and I was commissioned to write my first book Using Relaxation for Health and Success because it was my area of experience. The publisher only published books from people who were writers and also experienced in their field.
I have written short fiction for years for magazines and in 1995 I wrote my first full-length book. I didn’t continue with it at that time because the idea of being a novelist felt like an indulgence rather than a way of earning a living.

For some the idea comes fully formed, for others it seems to be a progression out of work they are doing already. In my case, I had wanted to write a book for years as a way of generating long-term income while I slept! That idea on its own, though, was never quite enough to get me started.


Writers Take Note

Well, even I was surprised at how strongly readers feel! On Monday I posed the question as to whether readers mind errors in books – and how much they mind. Now it might be that those who mind were more inclined to answer the survey, but even in these early days the results show heavily that mistakes are just not ok. So far, over 70% of people have agreed that writers should not put out books with errors. From other comments I have had elsewhere, it seems that people feel it is insulting for an author to put a book out without it being checked thoroughly and errors removed. It seems the main problem is the one I found – that it gets in the way of taking in the contents of the book, causes frustration, and may even result in a book being abandoned. If you want to see the full results of the survey so far, or add your vote, you can find it here.

In my forthcoming book, Be An Author, we looked at the rise of ePublishing, and the increase in free content. The consensus was that this would result in the buying public having to ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’. For me the problem has been that these books aren’t ‘chaff’, or at least they didn’t have to be. They are books that have value, with stories to tell, that I want to read. But my reading pleasure has been diminished by the lack of polishing of the finished product.

So I am now in a campaigning mood. As a self-published author, I want self-published books to be regarded just as highly as traditionally published ones. In order for that to happen, though, self-published authors have to be prepared to put in the work, or pay the price, to get their work to a professional standard. I will be making this clear in the self-publishing guide I will be making available on this blog shortly, but in the meantime writers please take note. Anything less than pretty-near-perfect is just not good enough. We could say that we are not just self-published, we are Professionally Self-Published. What do you think?

The other thing I have vowed to do is to review the books I find have this problem truthfully warts and all in the future. I will tell what I like about the book, but if errors have put me off in my reading I will demote the book by one star and say so. Otherwise, how can an author know they have not met the required standard? I know that this means I will also be held up to that standard, and you are all sure to let me know when I don’t meet it. I can live with that. At least I will learn something, too.